Now that the holidays are past and the cliché greeting of "Are you ready for Christmas?" is packed up for another 10 months, we have moved to the "Is it cold enough for you?" greeting. In a diverse and opinionated nation where differences (race, religion, politics, and college football) often divide us, we always have weather as the common ground to unite us.
But if you ever weary of the trite and true, and you want to keep others off-balance, then join me in trying some of these responses:
Cashier: Is it cold enough for you?
Ramon: This is nothing. When I lived in Saskatchewan I had to break the ice layer of the creek so I could bathe before school.
Barista: Is it cold enough for you?
Ramon: I have a nerve disease so I can't feel cold or heat. Can you put some ice cubes in my cappuccino?
Waitress: Is it cold enough for you?
Ramon: Oh yea. In fact, the ground’s so hard we're gonna have to wait till Spring to bury the cat.
But it’s a dry cold
I have several friends who live in Colorado and I find their comment about cold weather the most amusing: “Yea, the winters here can get really cold…but it’s a dry cold.” Huh? What’s their point? I cannot recall ever hearing someone say, “It was 10 below zero when I skied off the side of the mountain, hit some trees, and fell unconscious into a snowbank. It was so cold that when rescuers found me two days later I had such severe frostbite that my hands and feet had to be amputated. But it was a dry cold.”
Get thee to a Kroger
It only takes a frosty dusting to shut down our quaint southern town and force us to retreat into our two-story red brick shells like scared turtles…but not before we raid the grocery stores of bread and milk. Even people who are lactose intolerant anti-gluten activists suddenly feel compelled to rush to Kroger for two gallons of milk and a loaf of honey wheat sandwich bread.
Why always bread and milk? So if the power goes out and the roads become icy death traps preventing us from getting to Starbucks, are we going to huddle for warmth and pass around bread slices and cups of milk? Folks, let me give you some advice--if you’re ever facing the possibility of being stranded in your home with teenagers for more than three hours the main thing you want to make sure you don’t run out of is toilet paper. Trust me on this.
Speaking of winter road conditions, you know that the Northern transplants among us have just been waiting for the first half-inch blizzard so they can once again tell us how southerners don’t know how to drive in the snow.
An ignored factor of winter navigation is that northern states get snow while southern states get ice. Until GM or Nissan makes a Zamboni we're stuck with a Toyota Tundra that might as well be a Prius with glass tires. Ice instead of snow is the reason that people only ski on North Carolina slopes if they have no other viable options. I realize, of course, these facts do not explain why there are no Georgia natives in the National Hockey League or why Arkansas hasn't produced more Olympic figure skaters.
Nevertheless, have you noticed that by far the majority of news reports we see of massive highway pileups are up north? I could be wrong but I’m guessing that the majority of those motorists in a long crumpled accordion of cars were not folks from south Alabama desperately trying to make it to Iowa in February to beat the spring break crowd.
Here in the south we do not turn our highways into massive demolition derbies. That is because southern commuters don’t even make it TO the highway. Instead, when confronted with slippery asphalt we Dixie drivers do one of three things:
1. Gently and politely slide into the car ahead of us at a stop sign,
2. Slide off into a ditch soon after exiting our subdivision or driveway, (sorta like this poor guy in Franklin in a video that has gone viral.)
3. Simply abandon our car on the side of the road (or in the road) and start walking home…or to a grocery store.
All of those are altruistic acts of southern courtesy, lest we collide and clog up interstates like our Northern neighbors do. And yet instead of our thoughtfulness and self-sacrifice being appreciated, we are mocked. I, for one, am waiting for some gratitude…and for the AAA tow-truck to arrive and get my Camry out of the ditch in front of our mailbox.
Ramon Presson, PhD, is a licensed marriage & family therapist in Franklin (www.ramonpressontherapy.com), the author of multiple books and a member of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists. He can be reached at [email protected].