I've been living in the Northeast all my life and have seen my share of rough winters. Every year the TV weathermen and weather chicks, who get paid by the idiotic phrase, come up with a new one every year. They made up the term, "Wind Chill Factor" so that they could tell you that it's cold AND windy. "Dew Point," is a cocktail of numbers brewed together that pilots use for judging the possibility of icing. I have used the formula to evaluate cupcakes and it works. "Real Feel Temperature" was invented for those to whom the actual temperature did not feel real enough.
This year they have come up with: "The Polar Vortex." It sounds to me like they spent a lot of money on the word "vortex" and were waiting for another word to come along to use with it. It sounds pretty high tech, like it should be flying around the mountains of Pakistan flushing out terrorists. Next year if we had a "Polar Vortex Matrix," it wouldn't surprise me.
All this harping on how cold it is and the fact that it's going to be EVEN COLDER TOMORROW made me intermittently sad and angry, sometimes violent, and almost always cold. I call this the "Bipolar Vortex."
They say that we are losing our polar ice caps, since all the snow has migrated down here to my driveway. Every day brings a new snowstorm with it. As the snow fell gently around the property, making nary a sound, a peaceful smile came over my face. "Isn't it beautiful?" I ask my wife. "Our cable's out," replies my wife. "FUCK THIS CRAP!" I ejaculate.
To get back the romantic mood I attempt to start a fire. In a nick of time, I remember to start it in the fireplace. Some crumpled newspaper (I start with the unfinished Monday New York Times crossword puzzle, which was harder than usual), a little kindling strategically placed, some logs stacked to allow the flow of oxygen and VOILA! Nothing. "You have to heat the draft," says my wife, romance still in the air. "I know you have to heat the draft. Or is it the other way around?" I reply, a hopeless romantic.
Of course I forgot to bring the firewood inside to dry. I suggest that we might use one of the kitchen chairs. "When was the last time we had more than three people sitting in there?" I query. By this time I have burned about four months-worth of newspapers, giving the illusion of a blazing inferno and also singeing off my eyebrows.
I remember that there is a ton of dry firewood under the eaves from hurricane Sandy, in the form of a 20-foot uncut tree trunk. My idea is to feed it into the fire perpendicularly, a little at a time, over the course of about 14 hours. My wife gives me a little look with her eyes that might mean that she thinks I am a genius.
Meanwhile I have run out of newspapers and I am burning our past tax returns. You are supposed to save them for ten days. Or is it ten years? Oops. The ashes from the paper have almost reached the top of the fireplace, and our carbon footprint has swelled to Wilt Chamberlain size. Remember when Wilt Chamberlain said he slept with 20,000 women? How the hell would he remember them all? I'm thinking he slept with the same slut maybe 6,000 of those times and didn't even remember. "Wilt the Stilt" they called him, but they only mention the one stilt. How did he stand up, unless....?
So now more smoke is coming out the front of the fireplace than is going up the chimney. "When was the last time we had the chimney cleaned?" I ask. "Sixteen years ago when we moved in," she replies. I remember my wife called a chimney sweep company, and I was kind of expecting a British bloke with a top hat. Instead, this little Spanish guy showed up who looked small enough to scale down the chimney and scrub it by hand. I asked him if he could sing or tap dance, but he didn't seem to speak any English. I broke into "Chim Chim Cher-ee" to get him started. "Chim chim-a-nee, chim chim-a-nee, chim chim che-ree!" I sing, but he looks like he is pointing to his crotch. In retrospect, I realize now that he wanted to use the bathroom. I don't know where he ended up going, but now that I think about it, our damper was damper.
I hear the plow guy outside, so I head out to see if he wants some hot chocolate. But he is already gone, and so are most of our driveway lights. He has plowed the blacktop into a perfect sheet of ice, like a zamboni. So I have to sprinkle rock salt, and as I descend the 45-degree ski slope of our driveway, I realize I am sliding inexorably down towards the mailbox. I am still tossing the salt granules as I go, and it looks like a weird wedding reception.
But here we are in April, and March came in like a lion, stayed like a lion, married, had cubs, and ate the lamb. But at least finally enough snow has melted around our mailbox so that we could retrieve our newspaper from January 3rd. You know what the headline was that day? "Snow Blankets Area!" It sounded so warm in print, but would have been warmer if a blanket had blanketed the area.
Incidentally, the polar vortex is actually a never-ending cyclone that pushes air masses around near the North and South Poles. It represents a constant low-pressure area, so if you can get a job there, not much will be expected of you.