Cold is Relative

When we moved to New England, I felt overwhelmed by the “locals” fascination toward all-things-weather. Within minutes of arriving at our new home, on a beautiful New England fall day, the neighbors who greeted us didn’t waste time noticing our California license plates.

Skipping the usual niceties, the husband chortled, going for the jugular – the weather vein, “Whoa! Hey! California! Oh, you are SO going to freeze this winter.” Ha ha ha hahaha. Ha.

My attempts to ally their concerns, “Well, you know, we both grew up in Minnesota….”, were ignored. Misery loves company, and they were determined to make me as miserable as they were. The temptation to fall back into weather-fatalism – dreading every day, because it meant winter-was-one-step-closer – was not how I wanted to live my life, having spent enough years during my childhood living under that burden.

I can understand confusion on their part, that Californians would swap ideal weather conditions, moving to New England, something I also found confusing. I decided to view the joking as just a good-natured, socially-odd way to get to know someone.

Half-a-dozen taunts later, the neighbor, having changed my name to, “Hey! California!”, was tapping out my patience. When he ratcheted it up to, “How’s it going, Weather Wimps?”, I made a decision. Talking about weather in specific degrees, was never as effective as euphemisms, colloquialisms and word pictures.

Putting on my Minnesota-affectation – think Sarah Palin – I said, “Sooooo…..you know there, doncha, New England winter sounds pretty darn scary. You’ve got me all wound up tighter than a twister in Kansas. Sooooo, I’m wondering, you know, if let’s say around about midnight, the dog wants to go outside and do his duty. Well, doncha know, that dog goes out….and he sits down….he’s looking around….and you just just keep standin and waitin’, standin’ and waitin’, scraping a hole in the ice that’s on the glass storm door, so you can see outside, checkin’ up on him. But, he’s still just sittin’ and starin’. Then he whimpers. And you’re thinking, ‘That’s weird. Why doesn’t the dumb dog just come in?’ And the ice keeps buildin’ up on the glass faster than you can scrape it off, so you open the door a crack – talk about heavy, there’s nothing heavier than a door loaded with ice – and you look out, and he looks at you and whines even louder. ‘C’mere!’, you say, ‘get on in here you!’ Your hand is freezing to the metal door handle, and suddenly, the lights are on and somebody is home. You scream for your husband. Well, in your case, the wife. And you yell ‘hurry up and bring a bucket of water’. You rush out, throwin’ the warm water under the dog’s backside, peeling him off the sidewalk, because you know what, he went and froze his testicles to the brick, and that’s why he was sitting out there in -48-degree weather and not coming in. So. I’m just wondering. Does it ever get that cold here in the winter?”

That did the trick.

I got my name back. And the neighbor? He gained a whole new perspective on winter.


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