Sunday, December 21, 2008

oh the weather outside is frightful...

The Usual Suspects are all of them, all, bitching about the cold this week. From Canada to Texas, everyone is pissed and befuddled. Even JJ out in San Diego is sort of empathizing with her Moose, who apparently had to fly into Chicago this week. Moose joined Judy Coates-Perez and countless others as they curse and slap themselves.

So why not join the fun? Yes indeed, it is colder than a witch's tit outside, and windy besides. Last night I worked past dark at the office, and for once there was no one around by the time I wanted to leave, so I toughed it out alone. That means putting on boots, sweater number two, scarf number one, arm-warmers, long wool coat, chenille hat, hood, scarf number two, gloves. Wrap a messenger bag around the whole kit to keep it from flapping in the arctic gale. Trudge downstairs, feeling a little like that kid in "A Christmas Story" whose mom bundles him up so well that he cannot move his arms up or down. Step outside, gasp, curse, pull scarf number two up over my mouth to muffle my curses -- and off I go. Four blocks or so to the bus stop, and most of it is (no shit) uphill through a foot of unplowed, unshoveled snow. The bus stop is likewise snowed under, and at the top of a hill besides, so the wind is knifelike and shelter nonexistent. I meet a few other nondescript, bundled figures standing silently in wait. I think of those cattle on the prairie in the "Little House" books by Laura Ingalls Wilder -- the cows who were frozen to the ground, their breath literally freezing into ice that bridged the distance from their mouths to the ground, then buried under a foot of snow. Mound after mound of hairy snow, motionless, deathlike; trapped, until Pa Ingalls goes to them one by one and breaks the cast of ice from their muzzles to allow them breath. They shake off the snow and run bawling away, one by one. These folks at the bus stop remind me of those cows.

Eventually, before we are frozen like some ill-fated Everest expedition, the bus comes. My glasses instantly fog over and freeze, completely occluded, as I climb aboard. I let them slide down my nose, meeting the top of the now-damp and funky scarf number two. "Free rides until 8pm" the driver says. I know it's because of some event downtown (a crazy parade they do in all weather, every night through Christmas, called Holidazzle.) But I'd like to think it's to encourage the frozen poor to jump on the bus, instead of walking up Central Avenue on a freezing Minnesota night.

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