Occasionally, when the barometer of her paranoia about Progress peaks and she is humid with discontent, the woman gets obsessed with one idea. She wants to liberate a window.
You see, like millions of other urban Americans, she spends her days hermetically sealed. The windows of her workaday life have lost all contact with their roots - the wind. They do not open; neither do they close.
Rather, they sit there on their smug sills, oblivious to her fever of discontent.
So, sometimes she glares insanely at those glasses and regards them as transparent symbols of the hubris of modern times. She wonders: Where is Charlie Chaplin when you need him? What would he have done with these antiwindows?
The woman is, of course, an ingrate. It had taken civilization thousands of years to free people from the ravages of nature, from its temperamental ups and downs in order to enslave them to the ravages of unnature with its thermostatic ups and downs.
Now, at all times, her air is conditioned. It is whipped into shape by the most expensive sort of machinery. It is heated when it is cold and cooled when it is hot - and here she is, complaining just because it isn't working right. Here she is, yearning for a breeze.
Who is she, anyway, Ayn Rand? After centuries of being victimized by the outdoors, why doesn't she appreciate the progress that made her a victim of the inside?
Instead, she sits at her desk, mumbling suspicions. Working and eating and visiting in what the engineers call a controlled environment, she feels utterly out of control. Freed from the hand labor of opening and shutting windows into the brave new world of centralization, she feels impotent.
She thinks that every time we invent a machine to make ourselves more independent, we end up dependent on the machine. At best, we are now hermetically sealed technology junkies, breathing air from central casting.
It is all quite mad. The most obscene thing she'd ever heard about Richard Nixon was that he turned on the air conditioner in the White House and lit a fire. It was a ghastly image, worse than the catsup on the cottage cheese. But it was typical.
Americans dump chemicals into all the free water and then spend millions on Perrier water. We pollute the natural air in order to condition the artificial air.
The biggest office building in her city had windows that fell out, but virtually none of the buildings were now built with windows that opened up. She is told that working windows "leak." They are kinky, and subversive. They throw off the Entire System.
So, instead, workers were condemned to be democratically uncomfortable. Each restaurant, each office has its hot spots and cold zones, its rotating sweaters and passing fans. For want of a genuine window.
Now, just now, there were small signs of rebellion. In the underground of fresh-air freaks, this cranky woman had heard of a graduate student incarcerated with his Ph D. thesis in a 10-foot-square room, who had slowly chipped away a hole in the window with his bottle cutter. Like some terrified welfare client, he hid his hole behind a copy of a 14th-century French history book.
In a few quarters, the room with the breeze was becoming the new status symbol. It was replacing the room with the view, which had replaced the room with the rug. One Boston building had even broken its rules for a Saltonstall. Could the Cabots, the Lodges, and the masses be far behind?
What she needs is to stop this incessant complaining and organize a Window Liberation Front. The will is there. The overly conditioned inhabitants of controlled environments, the advocates of defenestration - they only need to have their consciousness raised before they lobby to have their windows raised.
In the summer of her discontent, she would organize a massive breathe-in. She would even, yes, Take a Window Out for Lunch.