Saturday, February 4, 2023


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. A couple hours ago, I was sitting here with my teeth chattering so loudly, they were drowning out the TV show I was trying to watch. 

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 face was so frozen, it could have replaced one of the faces on Mount Rushmore.

Today, when the wind was howling and the wind chill was a balmy 35-below zero, I decided to go shopping. Not the smartest decision I’ve ever made, especially when the TV newscasters constantly were shouting, “Don’t go outside today unless it’s absolutely necessary! Any exposed skin can freeze, turn black, fall off and land at your feet within five minutes!”

But heck, even in the summer heat, I don’t “expose” much skin, so I wasn’t concerned.

In my opinion, going shopping in weather that would cause even a polar bear to suffer from hypothermia was a necessity. Even though I’d stocked up on a month’s worth of what I considered to be essentials just the week before, I realized I’d forgotten a few important items, like baking powder, which I needed to bake my weekly stash of cookies, and rice, so I could brew a big caldron of chicken-rice soup and keep my innards thawed. When it comes to food, believe me, I'll battle everything from avalanches to molten lava to get it. I’d never venture out in sub-zero temperatures to buy something like toothpaste or dishwashing liquid, but I’d drive through a raging blizzard for a bag of Hershey’s kisses or a box of brownies.

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’d lost the feeling in just about every part of my body. And my eyes were so watery, everything was a blur. I couldn't tell the difference between a head of cabbage and the bald head of the produce clerk.

In my defense, I’d dressed in layers for the cold – long underwear, two sweaters, a coat, scarf, mittens, woolen knee-socks, fur-lined boots, a thermal hat and flannel-lined jeans. And after about 10 minutes in the store, I began to feel like one of the rotisserie chickens. The fact the thermostat seemed to be cranked up to about 95 degrees didn't help, either. I stripped off my coat and yanked off my hat and scarf.

 As I walked down the aisles, I couldn't help but notice how many people were staring at me…well, actually, specifically staring at my head. A few minutes later, I happened to pass a mirror in the cosmetics department and stopped dead. My hair, what little of it I still have, was sticking straight up due to the static when I’d yanked off my hat. And on the sides of my head, the hair had formed what looked like two horns. In spite of myself, I started to laugh. I resembled a cow, especially considering my added girth in so many layers of clothes.

By the time I got back home, I was chilled to the bone, mainly because my car takes about 17 minutes to warm up and the drive was 16.5 minutes.

I knew the quickest way to thaw out would be to crank up the heat in the house to the "surface of the sun" setting, but ever since the last fuel bill nearly caused me to need a defibrillator after I opened it, I’ve been trying hard to be more frugal when it comes to staying warm. So I decided I’d put on my sweat clothes, drink some hot tea and wrap myself in a fleece blanket, and I’d be toasty in no time. 

When I finally curled up on the sofa, I was so bundled up, I looked as if I were about to enter the Alaskan Iditarod.

Unfortunately, I gulped down my first sip of hot tea so fast, I was worried I'd blistered my throat to the point where I might need a skin graft. I recalled seeing a woman on TV who'd needed a graft and said the doctor had taken some skin from her buttocks for the procedure because he’d figured she wouldn't miss it there.

It definitely wasn't a pleasant thought...

But at this very moment, my two dogs are helping to keep me warm. I have one lying on each of my feet.

Trouble is, I think it’s destined to be a proverbial three-dog night.

Maybe even four.

And the fact that the Mount Washington observatory just reported a record-breaking wind chill of minus 110 degrees up there isn’t helping any. It gives me the sudden urge to gulp down more hot tea – like a gallon of it…even if it means I’ll end up having to sacrifice some of the skin on my buttocks.

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Sally Breslin is an award-winning syndicated humor columnist who has written regularly for newspapers and magazines all of her adult life. She is the author of several novels in a variety of genres, from humor and romance to science-fiction. Contact her at: