As I write this, much of the country is doing its best imitation of a meat freezer. Here in Dallas it’s 15° and while that has us all bundled up in our winter finest, folks in places like Michigan and Minnesota would consider this a heat wave. Like so many things in our country today, this incursion of artic air has us separating into raucous factions. No, not the climate change guys versus everyone else–although this certainly gives them something more to grapple over—I’m talking about the “let’s hibernate until its over crowd” versus their “suck it up and put on a jacket” opponents.
Personally, I think the arguments from both sides have merit. Other than Eskimos, and those crazy people who like to jump into frozen lakes, the majority of us would prefer to avoid venturing outdoors when the thermometer is hovering near its nether regions. For example, fashion goes right out the window when the temperature reading is prefaced by a minus sign. Whether you’re wearing one of those down coats that make you look like a human hand grenade, or have assembled enough layers to approximate the Michelin Man, you’re not going to wind up on the cover of the next issue of GQ. The cold also forces us to deal with issues that we’d like to avoid. For example, when someone has to pick up take-out at the Crosby house, it’s typically yours truly. And I don’t have a problem with that. But when the temperature goes south of the freezing mark, I do have to wonder why the Mrs. never makes the trek to Howard Wang’s for Chinese—I mean she’s from Canada for crying out loud.
The “suck it up” crowd are perhaps a little more realistic than the more “artic reticent” among us. They realize that life must go on now matter what the atmospheric condition, and they tend to look a little disdainfully at the rest of us. Now I’m not talking about those people you see at football games showcasing their bare chests in allegiance to their team. Those guys are idiots. However, the suck it up oriented player is recognizable due to their refusal to wear warm clothing on their arms. Nothing say “macho” more than a frostbitten forearm, but at least they are getting paid to do it. For the rest of us, the follower of the suck it up philosophy can be identified as the person who affects an air that screams out, “I am impervious to the cold”.
They demonstrate this resilience through their seeming lack of ownership of hats, scarves, gloves and any coat heavier than a windbreaker—which they never ever button up. Whenever they are asked if they are cold they respond by tossing their head back and unleashing a throaty chortle—or at least that’s the way it always sounds through the earflaps of my sheepskin hat. Personally, I’ve always felt that for many of these hearty souls, their dismissal of the cold is really more of an act rather than due to some physical anomaly. Sure, some of these folks probably do have an internal thermostat like a nuclear reactor, but I think most of them are just less obnoxious versions of the aforementioned bare chested football aficionado.
Of course, some people are simply forced to brave the elements because that’s in their job description. It’s 27 degrees below zero today in Minneapolis, but the guys building our data center there are still working. And somebody has to put those high-tension power lines back up after ice storms and drive the snowplow. The weather is a cruel mistress for these folks. How many of us would take a job where we know we have to go into work when it’s twenty below? Talk about your motivated, self-starters. God Bless ‘Em!
Fortunately for all of us, these frigid days will soon pass and we’ll be complaining about the heat in no time. Until that time we’ll each just have to find our own way to deal with the effects of the plummeting mercury. I don’t know about you but I’m going to throw another log on the fire, grab another blanket and tell Mrs. Crosby it’s her turn to pick up the Chinese.