As winter recedes into our memory . . . for a few months . . . a particularly poignant piece showed up in the Wall Street Journal that I thought you might enjoy. Good reading in the WSJ!
By Joe Queenan; March 16, 2017
April is the loveliest month, because if everything goes according to plan, you can finally get your neighbors to shut up about snow. Every year, Americans waste 7.2 billion man-hours moaning about snow, obsessing about snow, devising cunning new strategies to foil the snow.
Nothing makes people run their mouths more than the daunting specter of a good snowstorm. Old-timers spin tall tales about the epic storms of yesteryear, with snow piled so high you could climb up on the roof and see the coast of Venezuela. They talk about building igloos the size of the Lincoln Memorial in the backyard. As the old saw goes, snow makes liars of us all.
Survivors of mythical snowstorms rhapsodize about a golden age when snow shovels never broke and ice picks never became blunt—unlike the cheap trash sold today. And they love to bitterly complain about Mr. Weatherman’s unfathomable inability to get his forecast right—the stupid, overpaid jerk—when all the statistics used to be right there, down to the very last snowflake, in the Farmer’s Almanac.
When brutal storms hit the Midwest or the Northeast, as one did this week, haughty, battle-scarred Canadians, genetically immune to harsh weather conditions, love to get on the phone and engage in a practice called “snowdescension.”
“You call 88 inches with 300-mile-per-hour winds a blizzard?” they sneer. “Why, back in ’78, we had 327 feet in Toronto. Kids had to get to school by cutting holes in Lake Ontario and swimming to class. We had to survive on fried maple syrup for weeks. And that was in July.”
We face other perils. It is sometimes said that Eskimos have 264 words for snow, while we have only that word or “the white stuff.” What Eskimos don’t have are 264 words for antisocial snow behavior, such as “hibernal lactic plunder.” How many times have I arrived at the supermarket two days before a snowstorm to find that my neighbors have made off with all the whole, 2% and skim milk, and only left behind a tiny container of Lactaid?
Why, one might ask, do fully grown Americans need so much milk during a snowstorm? Do they really eat that much cereal or drink that much hot chocolate? Are they afraid that the storm will be so bad it will kill all the cows and they will never be able to get any fresh milk again? Or are they misanthropic milk misers, perched there by the window, gleefully eyeing the phalanxes of hapless tykes who would die for a cup of hot milk?
Snow brings out the worst in humanity, as people become petty, stingy, selfish and even more annoying than usual.
What I find most painful to endure are the mean-spirited people who love it when the snow arrives, because they can pretend to commiserate with the snowbound from the safe confines of Venice Beach or Rio de Janeiro, engaging in an activity best known as snowenfreude. Years go by and you don’t hear from your friends in Los Angeles. Then they see on the news that the Northeast is going to get hit by 24 inches of snow, and they can’t resist the urge to contact you. “We’re so lucky to be living out here in paradise, where it’s going to be 80 this afternoon,” they say. Thanks.
People like this should be forced to engage in community snow service by spending every other winter in Buffalo. That’d teach them to keep their mouths shut.
My comment on Mr. Queenan’s blog:
I recall, when a particularly ravishing ice storm hit our area and the national news, receiving a facebook posted picture from a Floridian “snowenfreude’ friend (a snowenfriend ?). He stood by his lawn mower in a light blue flowered shirt and bermuda shorts with a tall glass of iced tea in hand, and commiserated with my snowbound condition.
I sent back one of me in my brocade turtleneck in front of my fireplace reading a book, as I sipped a hot-toddy, and lamented, “Shame you have to mow your lawn on Christmas break.” 😉