After the Fact: ‘Baby, It’s Cold Outside’


Anyone who tells you they “REALLY LOVE cold weather” is either lying or having hot flashes. They may love winter sports like ice skating (which you can do even more comfortably in summer) or skiing and sledding but if we were meant to LOVE cold weather, we’d have evolved wearing heavy fur coats. And even bears look for a cozy spot for hibernating through the colder parts of winter.

Along the same lines are those folks who say, “I KNOW how to drive in snow.” Nobody KNOWS how to drive in snow. I’ve been doing it for the better part of a century and I still don’t KNOW how to drive in snow. It’s different every time. I slid in my dad’s ’56 Plymouth and in every car I’ve driven since. It still makes my heart miss a couple of beats.

Snow is always beautiful when it’s falling in those huge flakes that look like they’re floating through the air, frosting the branches of the trees; it’s less beautiful when you’re shoveling it off of your sidewalks and down the driveway. It looks like rolling fields of downy feathers when you’re at the top of the mountain; it’s like concrete when you land on your patoot as you’re skiing down. And the older you get, the more you avoid walking anywhere that hasn’t been totally and completely cleared of snow and ice. Only in the movies do women slip and fall gracefully. From the Three Stooges to Cary Grant, men never fall gracefully and don’t seem to try. In fact, they seem to think it’s a hoot, even when they’ve broken an arm and a dozen eggs.

Over the years, women’s fashions have shrunk from ankle-length skirts to calf-length in the ‘50’s, mini-skirts and, now, skirts that barely have enough fabric to cover the lace around a pair of panties. Just recently, I saw an advertisement for a floor-length dress made of that puffy, down-filled fabric that usually shows up in hunting gear. The ensemble reminded me of the Queen of Hearts in the “Alice in Wonderland” cartoon. It made me wonder why we ever thought shorter skirts were a good idea in the first place.

Are you old enough to remember the matching wool coat and “leggings” we wore in winter? When they got wet, they smelled like sheep (let that sink in a while) and wet or dry, they itched. Our dresses had to be tucked in so we looked like the Pillsbury Dough Boy and, by the time we got to school and could remove the leggings, our dresses were wadded up to the length of a mini-skirt.

The saving grace to -0 degree weather is that we have ZIP humidity. You can actually go outdoors without a coat, provided you go out and turn right around to come back inside. I remember walking across campus when the thermometer said it was -10. I remember standing in line in front of the Student Union building during winter registration and it was nearly that cold. This was in the pre-computer era and you had to sign up for classes with the professor in charge, hoping you could get from one line to the next before the class you wanted was filled. That meant you had to wait until spring quarter to try again, or, failing to get in a second time, you would be back the next fall.  That was catastrophic if it was the ONE class you had to have before you could graduate! And you gave serious thought to transferring to some school in Arizona. Or even, heaven forbid, Texas! I credit the change in dress codes to allow girls to wear pants to class with the number of Valley students enrolling at ASU. I KNOW it reflects on how many go on to receive an MA degree. It sure isn’t because all these folks LOVE cold weather.

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