OP-EDS

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February 28, 2006

Snow is more fun than you’d think

I have recently developed a real obsession with blizzards. By “recently,” I mean “over the past two days,” because that is approximately how long I’ve been snowbound in Boston. I wish I could complain about being stuck here, but I wouldn’t have a great case, since it’s entirely my fault that I didn’t fly back to Chicago while I had the chance.

Everyone knew this blizzard was coming: Shop clerks, radio DJs, and even chipmunks were darting around, stocking up on canned soup and bottled water for days before the storm hit. “There will definitely be a major blizzard,” stated The Boston Globe, which I took as an unequivocal sign that there would definitely not be a major blizzard. While the rest of New England wrestled with snow tires, I decided the most sensible thing to do was: nothing.

In nearly every situation, “nothing” is the best course of action. I mean, I definitely wasn’t going to invest in gallons of bottled water just because a snowstorm might hit. It’s a couple feet of crystallized water, not a goddamn nuclear holocaust. I think your Brita filter will keep working.

Otherwise, though, every shop clerk, radio DJ, and small suburban rodent was proven right, and Boston has been transformed into a true winter wonderland. I can’t get out my front door, so I’ve spent the entire day watching snow fall. On TV, that is.

Watching blizzards on TV has been a popular New England pastime ever since televisions or possibly blizzards were first invented. So I sit inside the sunroom, with its three full walls of windows, and stare at the snow on TV. I don’t know what it’s like outside because I haven’t left my couch in a couple days, but I’ll tell you, on my 21-inch television, this weather looks mighty dramatic.

The Weather Channel is thrilled to bits about the storm. They try to cover this up by expressing their “grave concern” for everyone who’s stranded by the snow (e.g., me), but they obviously relish their sudden popularity. Generally, in the television hierarchy, the Weather Channel is down there with QVC and Community Access in the category of “channels you watch only when you’re having trouble falling asleep.”

But this storm has skyrocketed the Weather Channel to VH1-like status. They’ve even interrupted their regularly scheduled programming to devote full attention to the Winter Storm Watch. To be frank, I didn’t know that the Weather Channel HAD regularly scheduled programming, but this just shows what a fool I am. Their regular scheduling, I learned, goes like so: “4:00-4:30: Local Weather Report. 4:30-5:00: Regional Weather Report. 5:00-5:30: Report On The Weather In Your General Area.” Woo-hoo! Weather! What fun!

The meteorologists think it’s fun, though, and that’s what counts. We should all have job satisfaction levels as high as meteorologists. “Oh my God!” they keep exclaiming. “We’ve accumulated 19 inches of snow! By tonight, that could even be 21 inches! Take a look at this graphic of a cold front!” Then they wriggle with joy.

Periodically, the Weather Channel interrupts the meteorologists with station identifications. This is when they try to make their channel appear vitally important, so they have a voice-over uttering solemn sentence fragments like, “The weather. Part of your world. Every day.” Meanwhile, dramatic words swoop across the screen: “Blizzard! Flood! Partly cloudy!”

It’s hard to drag myself away from this sort of visual excitement. But I have managed to participate in a couple of other fun blizzard traditions, such as Not Helping To Shovel The Driveway, Drinking So Much Hot Chocolate That I Almost Vomit, and Laughing At My Cat When She Tries To Go Outside Only To Discover That The Snowfall Is Twice Her Height.

Clearly, blizzards are amazing, and I have to pity Chicago for its deprivation of real snow. We have real COLD, but that may not be a good thing, since it makes me want to die and also doesn’t look impressive on television. I had to wait for the #55 bus for half an hour on the -10 degree day we had last week. If I could have removed my frostbitten hands from my mittens, I would have unhesitatingly clawed my own heart out.

I thought life couldn’t get worse until I was approached by a 15-year-old hoodlum with—get this—his jacket unzipped. Apparently, modern ruffians come equipped with super-warmth. He asked me if I was married. When I said no, he asked for my digits. When I said no, he asked if I was a lesbian. When I said no, he asked for my number again. I suddenly realized: There are many things more evil than cold. Namely, talking to strangers.

One of the nice parts of being snowed in is that I never encounter any strangers at all. Well, except for Meteorologist Mark. But he and I have become really good friends by now.