Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Dog Chops with Red Wine

When you were a kid, if you lived in the Midwest, chances are you looked forward to snow in the winter. You hoped there would be enough to go sledding. You hoped it was sticky enough to make a snowman. You absolutely prayed for so much snow that the doors to the school were blocked four feet high and they had to cancel. Then you couldn’t wait to meet your friends outside and have a huge neighborhood snowball fight and use that hopefully sticky snow to plaster that kid you always hated that sits next to you in Math with a slushball to his face.

And if you didn’t look forward to all of this, you at least looked forward to an excuse to stay home and in bed, maybe with some hot chocolate if you were lucky, maybe with a video game controller in your hands most of the day if you were even luckier.

But let’s be devil’s advocates for a moment and pretend you never looked forward to snow as a kid in the Midwest. Let’s pretend that you sat at home, worrying about the gas bill and how much homework you were going to have to make up while you watched soap operas all day. Let’s entertain the thought that you were the lamest kid ever to live north of forty degrees latitude. Even then, you at least expected that it would snow during the winter and that said snow might cause you some level of inconvenience some time between late November and early March.

So when did everyone seem to completely lose that instinct? At what age does the very mention that we might receive a foot of snow start driving everyone over the deep end? How is it that our preparedness actually decreases as we get older on this issue and we begin to panic?

Everybody seems so surprised at the mere possibility of snow. The news comes up with the most terrifying depictions possible for winter storms with headlines like SNOWPOCALYPSE, SNOWMAGEDDON, WHITE DEATH FROM ABOVE or WINTER MASSACRE 2011: WHAT YOU CAN DO TO SURVIVE? NOTHING! They spend hours covering the mad rush to the grocery stores (which puts a real damper in a guy’s plans to just go pick up a case of beer, let me tell you) and the painful details of how every single shovel and ice scraper within a five hundred mile radius has already been purchased and you’ll have to get on a waiting list just to get one by April. Then you get the ridiculous interview with the poor guy at the gas station:

“Sir, are you stocking up on gas now because of the impending blizzard?”

“Um…I was just under a quarter of a tank and figured I ought to fill up.”

The guy is probably confused because the same reporter has been spewing warnings all week about staying indoors, avoiding frostbite and remaining hydrated as if he’s Bear Grylls giving out extreme survival tips to everybody. If we’re supposed to avoid traveling, why should we be running out to get gas?

I sometimes wish I would be the one to be asked such stupid questions by a reporter: “Yes, sir. I’m currently in the process of hoarding as much fuel as possible. That way, when our society crumbles as a result of our complete ineptitude in the face of some winter precipitation, I’ll be the one calling the shots. Ever see The Road Warrior?”

Honestly, we as a nation need to take it easy with our surprise over weather. Flights get cancelled, plans get changed. Our species has survived through much worse. Start remembering what it was like when you were a kid and how excited it would have been to anticipate so much snow.

If you feel like taking a few precautions would make you breathe easier, go ahead, just don’t go overboard.

Me, I’ve spent a little time reading back over The Walking Dead, so that I’m prepared to shoulder the emotional strain that the end of civilization as we know it will bring. I also sat down with my dog and had a long talk about how, if we should become stranded and detached from the rest of society, he is going to be our first alternative source of food once the canned goods run out. We’ve agreed it will be a respectable dinner. I picked up a nice bottle of red wine while I was getting the beer, just in case.

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