Tuesday, February 2, 2010

BABY, IT'S COLD OUTSIDE

Maybe it's because I'm getting old and my skin is thinner, but I seem to be more sensitive to the cold lately. In fact, this recent Arctic blast has affected me more than any cold weather in the past.

When I was a kid, I'd go out and play when the weather was so cold, my top and bottom eyelids would freeze together. Yet, I would stay outside until dark…or until my nose turned purple, whichever came first.

Last Friday, when the wind was howling and the wind chill was 20 below zero, I decided to go shopping. Not the smartest thing I've ever done, but I was in desperate need of groceries. And when it comes to food, I'll battle everything from avalanches to molten lava to get it.

The minute I stepped out of the car and into the store's parking lot, the wind viciously attacked me and beat me to within an inch of my life.

By the time I set foot in the store, I had no feeling in my lips. And my eyes were so watery, everything was a blur. I couldn't tell a head of lettuce from the bald head of the produce clerk.

As I walked down the aisles, I couldn't help but notice how many people were smiling at me.

"Friendly store!" I thought. I would have smiled back at them, but I was afraid my frozen lips would crack.

A few minutes later, I happened to pass a mirror in the cosmetics department. I stopped dead. My windblown hair was sticking straight up on my head. The front part of it had formed what looked like two big horns. In spite of myself, I started to laugh. I looked like a steer…in a winter coat.

I guess that explained why people were smiling at me.

I'd dressed in layers for the cold – two sweaters, a coat, scarf, mittens, woolen knee-socks, fur-lined boots and flannel-lined pants. After about 10 minutes in the store, I began to feel faint, I was so hot. The fact that their thermostat was cranked up to about 95 degrees didn't help. So I stripped off a few layers.

Then when I went back outside, I nearly froze off an essential body part.

By the time I got home, I was chilled to the bone, mainly because my car takes 17 minutes to warm up and I was 16.9 minutes from home

"What are you doing?" my husband asked when I walked past him and directly to the thermostat to turn the furnace up to "rotisserie" level.

"Trying to thaw out. I'm frozen!"

"But we agreed to try to conserve fuel," he had to remind me. He'd practically needed a defibrillator after seeing our last fuel bill. "Go put on some sweat clothes, grab your fleece blanket and some hot tea, and you'll be fine in no time."

I glared at him as he sat there in his shorts and T-shirt. For some reason, the man was always hot. Looking at him, you'd think we lived in Hawaii. The last time he wore a pair of socks was back in 2007.

By the time I sat on the sofa, I was so bundled up, I looked as if I were about to enter the Alaskan Iditarod. Trying to thaw my lips, I gulped down the hot tea so fast, I was worried that I'd blistered my throat and might need a skin graft. I recalled seeing a woman on TV who'd needed a graft and the doctor had taken some skin from her buttocks for it because he said she wouldn't miss it there.

It wasn't a pleasant thought.

Meanwhile, my husband sat sipping ice water. I was half expecting him to drag out the floor fan at any minute.

"Aren't you warm yet?" he asked me, probably because the sound of my teeth chattering was drowning out his favorite TV show – old reruns of Dragnet.

I shook my head and pulled the blanket more tightly around my shoulders.

"Then have some more hot tea," he said.

"Can't I just turn up the heat?" my voice came out in a whine. "It'll be all your fault if I have to have skin taken off my buttocks and put down my throat!"

He had no clue what I was talking about. And the look he gave me all but told me he was debating whether or not I'd finally gone off the deep end (something he's been debating ever since he said, "I do").

So when he later excused himself to the bathroom, I cranked up the heat another five degrees.

"Is it getting hotter in here?" he asked about 15 minutes later.

I shook my head. "You're probably just going through male menopause."

I think he might have bought it. Now I'll just have to find a safe place to hide the heating bill when it arrives.