punkwalrus (punkwalrus) wrote,
punkwalrus
punkwalrus

‘Snow Joke

I love snow. I have always wondered if it was because my dad hated it so much. I started questioning my atheism for the same way. “If my dad believes it, it may be bullshit.” I also like snow days for some fairly obvious reasons. Fairfax County was still pretty rural back then; I’d say we were 30% city/suburbs, and the rest were back roads that were difficult, if not impossible, to plow. Our county were usually one of the first to close, and I’d say we had maybe an average of 6-10 snow days each winter. Each winter we’d get about 5 decent snows (over 2 inches) and about 1-3 hard blizzards. I haven’t seen that since the 1980s, although we have had about 1 huge blizzard about every 4 years. But Fairfax county is still rather chicken when it comes to snow days, even though I’d say it’s 90% urban now. And yet, when I wake up to the sound of the radio announcing a snow closure or even a mealy 1-hour delay, I can’t help but feel my heart skip a little in reminiscent joy.

My dad loathed snow. He grew up in the Chicago slums, and hated snow with a passion that rivaled anyone I have ever known (my mom, who also grew up in the same slums, didn’t seem to mind snow at all). He used to tell tales about ten foot snowdrifts and blinding blizzards, which seem plausible in the 1940s for a slum in Chicago, and when you’re a kid, things seem bigger anyway. But my father went further than tales of a slum Yukon trail, had a kind of hatred for snow that bled into the realm of denial.

For example until I was 18, he drove this 66’ Thunderbird. This maroon low rider with the squeaky frame tended to get stuck in snow a lot, which would make my dad furious while trying to go to work. Work may have been closed, but not to him! He had the same attitude of snow as he did about being sick: it’s all in the mind, and if you don’t pay attention to it, it’s not real (which, philosophically, can be argued as perceptually valid). But often, his mind and reality were at incredible odds with one another. Sometimes he couldn’t even make it out of the driveway or his car got stuck at the exit of Espey Lane and Southridge, about 30 feet from our house. Often, helpful neighbors would give him a push, of which he was minimally thankful at least.

A dangerous game kids played (and may still play) was during heavy snow conditions before the streets were properly plowed: you’d hook onto a slow-moving car’s bumper and slide behind them on your boots. Well, some kids made a mistake of doing this to my father’s car, which nearly pulled the bumper off when it went over a rim of hardened slush. When he stopped the car, the kids did not linger to offer educated debate to explain their tomfoolery, but “scattered like rats,” according to my father. My father was angry enough because his attempt to get to work was thwarted when the got to Westmoreland because a plow had left a ridge of snow taller than the hood of his car right across the entrance to Southridge. And since I was the only kid he could confront when he got home, I got punished. Really. I don’t know who those kids were (oh, I could guess, but that’s not the point), but I got punished because obviously, I put them up to it, and protesting this nonsensical accusation landed me in my room until my mother quietly freed me a few hours later. I knew my father hated children almost as much as he hated snow, so that was a double-whammy against his denial.

But most of the time, my father could trudge through whatever snow Mother Nature dealt out in his 2-ton low rider, and so snow days were not only time off from school, but time off without my father, who would often be late coming back because of the traffic conditions during snow days.
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