Friday, December 29, 2017

THE OLDER I GET, THE COLDER I GET


I’m sitting here wearing long underwear, sweatpants, a sweatshirt, fuzzy slippers and woolen knee socks, and I’m wrapped in a fleece blanket. I’ve downed so many cups of hot tea, I think my throat is blistered. And that worries me because I once read a story about a woman who drank so many hot beverages, she badly burned her throat and then had to have skin grafts done on it – with skin taken from her buttocks.

Believe me, it’s not a pleasant thought.

But this current arctic blast with sub-zero temperatures is really getting to me. I’m beginning to think that as I age, I am becoming more and more of a cold-weather sissy.

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 nearly fell off from frostbite, whichever came first.

I think, however, I was forced to be brave in cold weather when I was a kid. Back then, girls weren’t allowed to wear slacks or pants to school. The dress code strictly stated we had to wear dresses or skirts. We, however, were allowed to wear slacks underneath our dresses if we promptly removed them (the slacks, not the dresses) the minute we entered the school building.

Most of the time, especially once I was in junior high, I didn’t want to bother with the hassle of the whole pants-underneath-the-dress thing (and besides that, I thought it looked ridiculous), so I walked to school with my legs clad in only nylon stockings.  By the time I arrived, I had no feeling from my hips to my ankles.

I remember one time, when I was in such a rush to get ready for school, I put on my sweater and warm, corduroy slacks…and forgot to wear the skirt over them!  When I arrived at school and removed my coat to reveal I was wearing only slacks and a sweater, the gasps were so horrified, you would think I’d shown up wearing just a push-up bra and a thong. And the teacher, visibly upset, promptly sent me back home to get my skirt. My mother was so angry that I'd been forced to walk back home in such frigid weather, she told me to just stay home and not go back.

She didn’t have to tell me twice.

Anyway, during this most recent arctic blast, even though I fully intended to hibernate, after four days I began to feel lazy, kind of like a giant slug. So I decided to take my usual (prior to the deep-freeze, that is) daily two-mile walk.

“Dress in a lot of layers,” the guy on the TV news advised. “The wind chill out there is minus 28 degrees, and any exposed flesh can freeze within minutes.”

He then proceeded to show clips of soap bubbles freezing in mid-air and crashing to the ground. He also showed a guy tossing a pot of hot water into the air. The water immediately turned into what looked like a miniature blizzard.

So I dressed in layers. In fact, I dressed in so many layers, it took me over 45 minutes to get ready for my walk. I dug out a hat, mittens, earmuffs, thermal leggings and underwear, fleece pants, woolen knee-socks, a scarf, a fleece-lined shirt, a ski-parka with a hood, fur-lined boots and something my friend knitted for me for Christmas – wrist warmers. I looked like someone preparing to enter the Alaskan Iditarod.

The moment I stepped outside, the wind savagely attacked me.  My eyes began to water, blurring my vision, and my nose started to drip. My cheeks felt as if they were being snapped with rubber bands. Even worse, the road was so icy, I was afraid I would slip and fall and become a permanent speed bump until spring.

Still, I was determined to walk my usual two miles.

There is one area of my road where the wind is always really brutal. It feels similar to entering a wind tunnel. Well, on that particular day, which was cold enough to freeze a penguin, when that wind hit me, I honestly thought I was going to freeze into a statue-like position. But at least I didn’t have to worry about my eyes and nose running any more, because by then, all of my bodily fluids had turned to ice.

Finally, about halfway through my walk, I started to warm up. In fact, I began to feel sweaty.  There was no place, however, beneath my 42 layers of clothing for the perspiration to escape. By the time I got back home, I was soaked. When I took off my hat, my hair looked as if it had been plastered to my head with bear grease.  And my armpits were telling me that my antiperspirant had waved the white flag of surrender about a half-hour before.

So I stripped off all my layers of clothing, which took me about 20 minutes, and took a shower.

The minute I stepped out of the hot, steamy shower, I felt chilled again.  I put on several fresh layers of clothing and cranked up the heat. Then I once again started drinking boiling-hot tea.

I think I’m beginning to understand why so many of my friends spend their winters in Florida.

They don’t have to worry about losing skin from their buttocks so it can be grafted onto their throats.



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