A number of years ago, back when I was invincible, I felt it important that I drive from one tiny town to another during a blizzard.
What? I was going to have some beers with a friend!
Do they have blizzards where you are? They don’t? Blizzards are a combination of cold temperatures, snow pushed from one serpentine drift to another, and yet more snow coming down, sometimes horizontally.
Consider it a test of your fortitude, your driving skills, your imagination, and your intelligence.
Can you handle the stress of not seeing more than a couple feet in front of you?
Can you keep the car on the road?
Can you see the road? Can you see the exit?
What in the world are you doing out in a blizzard, anyway?
All of your abilities will be tested – some of them just by getting in the car in the first place.
Believe me when I tell you that the majority of the time there’s no where you need to go during a blizzard except to the closet for another blanket.
Or perhaps to the fridge.
But like I said: I used to be invincible.
I was invincible right up to two miles outside of town, when my ’74 Ford LTD, a car you and seven of your best friends could sit in easily, slid, ever so slowly, off the side of the road and sideways into a shallow ditch.
Now, when you find yourself with your tail pipe in the snow, you also find yourself seeing the beauty in what you should’ve seen earlier and you turn everything off and sit in the cold, gray silence, considering the possibility that you may be mentally retarded and that those closest to you, for some reason, have been reluctant to say so; thinking about how the sun is setting and there’s a friend waiting just eight miles away.
This is sometimes the part in the story where you proceed to read of the writer’s slow and painful demise, how they found her body, the way her last words were recorded on the interior of the car in lipstick.
Either that or it’s the part where a large red pick-up comes down this same deserted county road and how four large, corn-fed Wisconsin boys in seed-and-feed caps pull over, jump out in jeans and sweatshirt and head towards your car.
“Ma’am?” says the biggest one, holding his arms out.
Yes, yes, please! I open my car door and hold my arms up for Farm Boy #1 and he lifts me, easily, out of the car and out of the ditch, and places me inside the cab of the truck.
My feet never even touched the ground.
He shuts the door, and Farm Boys One through Four step down into the ditch, each of them taking a corner of my car. They lift the LTD as if it is hollow, step carefully up the shallow ditch, and place the car back on the road.
And then they refused to take my money.
And I drove on to Paula’s house, where we drank beer, played Scrabble, and went out for breakfast in the morning.
I just love Wisconsin. If you’re going to slide off the road, I suggest you do it there.
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