Sunday, January 22, 2012

You Call that a Snow Storm?

The change of seasons, some love it, some hate it. For the past two winters in the DC Metropolitan area, I’ll bet a good portion of the residents hated it. I love it.

As you know, I lived in South Florida for five years, where people ask, “How’s the weather?” and you answer, “The same.” I never pulled out my winter coat the entire time I was there. The drawback to living in Florida is that it is the Jewish Gateway to Heaven. Basically, you move there to die. Running errands is synonymous with funeral processions.

Ironically, they ship your body back via Federal Express, so you can be buried within twenty-four hours in the land of the living. You die there, but God forbid you should be buried there. I think Florida has two cemeteries, one of which has six plots, four of which are for sale.

It is all about visitation. What is a better way to guilt your children than to be buried where they have no excuse to skip putting a rock on your stone at least four times a year?

Friends of mine moved to Palm Springs. Forgive me, all you happy homosexuals in the desert, but for me, Palm Springs is just like South Florida. Instead of old leathery Jews counting the days and planning the menu at their shiva services, you have old leathery queens, drinking away at happy hours, while they plan the menu at their “going away” parties. Oh, and they are all real estate agents.

This is where I am supposed to say that I am going to get mail about that one.

When I first moved back to the Eastern Seaboard, I arrived on Martin Luther King Day 1997 with temperatures in the teens. Two days prior, I was wearing shorts in eighty-degree weather. My poor Serena looked at me as we exited the car and said in French, “C'est quoi ce bordel?”* She was a toy parti-poodle, and my friend Sarah will tell me if I got that right. Poodles are French if I lost you there for a minute.

I admit that I thought the same thing. But within a day or so, I was glad to be back in the land of the living rather than the balmy hospice by the sea.

The next day, I pulled my red winter coat out of the steamer trunk and put it on for the first time in five years. No one told me that everyone in DC wears charcoal gray. Not black, not navy, but charcoal gray. I was the six-four freak in the red winter coat on the bus. You know me. I didn’t care.

After my first year back, I realized I really did like the change of seasons. Serena got somewhat used to it, too. We had our share of snow storms. In March of 1999, we got a doozy – three feet of snow in twenty-four hours.

I actually went to work via train then bus to our office in the armpit of Maryland, Rockville, in the middle of it. There were maybe twenty of use there, so the company bought pizzas for everyone. One of my co-workers, who lived behind our offices, called in saying it was too dangerous to walk, but when I told her we had free pizza, she was standing behind me before I could hang up the phone. I asked what took her so long, and she said she had to tie her boots.

By 2:00 pm, I decided it might be best to go home. I stepped out of the office and prepared to walk the half mile up to the White Flint Metro. When I stepped off the curb, the snow was up to my waist, and I immediately thought of Serena home alone with me freezing to death on Rockville Pike.

God heard my call and sent a bus with a lady bus driver. The bus driver opened the door, and I asked where her bus was going, and she said, “Silver Spring Metro.” If you don’t know the area, the Silver Spring Metro is clear across town from White Flint, but it was either that or die in Rockville. I also knew I could catch a bus from Silver Spring to my street.

This is going to sound sexist, but women bus drivers are the best. She navigated that bus through one residential street after another and didn’t slip once. I almost kissed her before I thanked her and alighted.

My next bus was also driven by a woman, and by 4:00 pm, I was home. Funny how two-hour commutes don’t freak us out around here.

I was greeted by a happy little dog. I put her sweater and leash on, and I opened the door. She took a flying leap and disappeared. It was funny, and even she got a kick out of it. One of the best pictures ever taken of us was the next day after that snow storm.

Above, Serena Rose Elizabeth Montgomery standing on three feet of snow

We had our share of snow in the years that followed, including 2002 when it snowed every Friday, but nothing compared to my first winter in Rockville. A little less than a month after Serena died in December 2009, we had one storm followed by two storms and close to five feet of snow. I was stuck on the fifth floor of Rockville Town Square for a week. The Metro was not running above ground, the streets weren’t plowed, and everything came to a complete stop.

I was so desperate for food that I almost bought a chicken at the drug store.

To keep myself entertained, I taught myself the lyrics to every song written by Harold Arlen. I think one of my neighbors committed suicide by putting an ice pick into her ear, through her ear and out the other side.

The following winter, Esmeralda’s first outside of Mississippi, we had an ice storm followed by a snow storm, and I had a beagle who didn’t want to go to the bathroom outside. Upon first seeing snow, Esmeralda said, “Bloody hell!” Beagles are British.

So, now we live in a trailer park in Jessup, and I want to experience all the seasons during my first year as a home owner, but Bloody Hell, we are having the mildest winter in years. C'est quoi ce bordel?

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want a paralyzing blizzard, but seriously, no snow at all?

We did get a small dusting of about an inch or two this past weekend. It did require a bit of shoveling and cleaning of the cars, but it was hardly worth writing home to Mom about. However, there was enough to make things icy dicey for yours truly.

I drove to a friend’s house the night after our “big” storm, and he said to watch out for a patch of ice near his porch. Being the study of poise and grace that I am, I slipped on that very patch and went asshole over teacups. I was up on my feet in seconds. When I was a dancer in Florida, my choreographer/instructor knew what a klutz I was, so he taught me how to fall properly, so I wasn’t hurt. My friend said it was both the funniest and most amazing thing he had ever seen.

I just wish someone would catch me on film when I do that, so I can win $10,000 on America’s Funnies Home Videos.

There is still hope. God once sent me a bus with a lady driver; maybe if I pray enough, put ice cubes in the toilet and sleep with my pajamas inside out, God will send me at least eight inches … of snow.

*/Apparently “what the fuck?” in French. It was on the internet, so it must be right.
If you also like the change of seasons, join me, follow me, tell your friends.

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