For over twenty years now I've successfully avoided Winter. First by fleeing Missouri to New Orleans for a few years. In The Deep South I experienced two years of warm and sultry days interrupted by one extremely cold Mardi Gras. That February the temperatures dropped to well below freezing for the first time in decades. After seeing three hard nipple related injuries and witnessing a flasher have his penis frozen and shattered to the base, all for a chance at some plastic beads, I decided it was time to find someplace warmer. I found South Florida. I was willing to face elderly drivers and man-eating lizards if it I could avoid frostbite in the process.
Looking back I guess my relationship with Winter was of the Love/Hate variety. Like all relationships of that variety the hate part eventually grows faster and eventually wins out. Then there’s nothing left to do but pack up your things and move on with your life.
I didn’t always hate the cold. In the beginning of our relationship, when I was young and naive, I loved the Winter. Snow and Ice made everything new and exciting. But, like with all things time and maturity will make your perspective change. What is at one time considered great fun changes to tedious or dangerous and probably not covered by insuance.
Building a snowman is no longer frozen folk art but is, instead, an invitation to myocardial infarction. Icy roads no longer appear before you as a perfect place to take your sled and ice skate. Now a thin sheet of ice looming in front of you produces the image of your car careening off the road and into a tree or, at the very least, is a reminder of how fragile the human pelvis really is.
But like I said there were times of great happiness and joy in the early years of Winter. As a matter of fact I have yet to recreate the euphoria I experienced after waking up on a January morning after a heavy snow. Overnight the landscape would change from the drab browns and charcoals of the normal landscape to crisp clean whites. I would wake my brother, Bubba so he could share in the wonder of it all. One of the few things I willingly shared with him.
After the regular school breaks of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years the only chanced we had for a day off before President’s Day would be the Snow Day. The most fun holiday of them all.
It took more than mere snow to make a Snow Day. The powers that be had to use some ancient and secret formula to determine whether or not to cancel school. There was no shortage of rumors as to the exact method used to determine the holiday. One was that if the superintendent of schools couldn’t get out of his driveway, in his four wheel drive, then school would be closed. Everyone involved agreed that it wasn’t fair he used four wheel drive for this test.
Other huddled conversations of kids came to the conclusion that Snow Days never happened in the middle of the week since the furnaces in the schools were already going and the buildings would be warm. The opposite theory was also passed around. If there was a Snow Day on Thursday they weren’t going to turn the massive heaters for just one day of the week. The exact method is, to this day, secretive and suspect.
While we were waiting for the official word I would plead the case of a personal Snow Day. Since we lived in a slightly more rural area I made the case that it was too dangerous, no not just dangers, a death sentence, to get on one of those rickety old school busses with no seat belts and no four wheel drive and try to brave frozen back woods dirt trails roads of Missouri. Allowing us to do it was probably a form of child neglect.
It never worked.
“If that school is open you’re going even if I have to drive you there myself” was our mom’s final word. Her children sliding into an icy canyon and freezing to death was a risk she would just have to take in order to some peace and quiet while watching One Life to Live.
Since the final final word could only come from a voice on the radio the three of us would huddle by the huge wooden stereo to wait. We would be wrapped in blankets to avoid getting dressed unnecessarily. If the official word came as “no closings" it was a mad scramble to get dressed make a mad dash to catch our bus.
One morning after our hopes were dashed I used the forty minute bus ride to to fix my hair once it thawed, re-button the shirt that was off kilter and regret that I had forgotten my belt. Once I arrived at the Middle School I regretted not having my belt even more. These jeans just felt wierd and they kept falling down. On closer inspection I saw the Sassoon label. I was wearing my mothers jeans. The entire day I kept my hand in my front pocket trying to look non-chalant, trying to keep my pants from falling off and praying nobody saw me in mom jeans.
If we heard the news. THE news the good news that made it an official Snow Day then the festivities began. The holiday tradition started with our disgusted and defeated mother going back to bed. Her day ruined. We would grab more blankets, comforters or sleeping bags off of our beds and planted ourselves in front of the television for the elusive midweek late morning children’s television that we never got to normally watch.Popeye the Sailor was stronger and funnier on a Thursday for some reason and Miss Sally from Romper Room always knew your name during the week.