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Thursday, March 21, 2013

And in the Summer, There are Those Who Forget to Wear Clothes Altogether


The temperature outside is four degrees. 

When one figures in the wind (out of the northwest, freshly chilled and compliments of the Great State of North Dakota), at four degrees, one is assured of wide-eyed consciousness followed by idle, almost dreamy speculation regarding blackened toes, car trunks doubling as meat lockers, and, for some reason, Mexican food.

The good citizens of Minneapolis, snuggled in fluffy layers of serious clothing, close their eyes against the dark winter-y landscape and inwardly thank the heavens for heated buses.

And then he gets on.

We shall think of him as Mr. Foolish Businessman, because that is how he is dressed.  While the North Wind Doth Blow and the snow eddies in gravity-defying rings in doorways, this guy has taken it upon himself to come to the bus stop in a suit and a light overcoat.

No hat.  No boots.  No scarf.  No gloves.

I frown in concentration, an expression I adopt several times a day that wreaks havoc on my desire for a wrinkle-free face.  So much ridiculousness in the world:  Why is that woman feeding a baby French fries?   Why have so many people taken up recreational spitting?  Why do I have an uncle who warns me, several times a  year, that I am to never fall asleep on cold concrete?

These are the things that keep me awake at night.

And now this guy. 

Why are you dressed for weather at least 40 degrees warmer than today’s projected high?

What would happen if we, the weather-respectful of the bus, were to rise up, push you outside for a bit?  How would ya like that, huh?

In my head, where things are warm and, increasingly, bubble-wrapped for my protection, I envision the regulars on the bus rising in mute consensus. 

We walk, slowly, menacingly, to the front.

“You’re not from around these parts, are ya?”

The man looks around in discomfort, looks up at the non-gruntled collection of sun-deprived, over-stuffed commuters before him.  “I – I was born and raised here.”

Disgusted, a puff of air escapes the lips of the 6:36 crowd.  Somewhere in the background, a woman starts to play the harmonica softly.  A coyote howls in the distance.

“Well then you should know that it’s winter here, partner, and we don’t cotton to people who won’t acknowledge the awesome power of Old Man Winter!”

A grumbling chorus of “thazz righ’, dawg”s and “ja, you betcha”s is heard.

“Bus driver!  I hardly think –“

The bus driver’s face makes an appearance in the rearview mirror, then returns to tailing the die-hard Minneapolis biker earnestly navigating a snow rut in the roadway before him.

“Think?  Well that’s just it, isn’t it? You’re not thinkin’, are ya?  Frostbite is within our stiff-fingered grasp and ohhhh noooo, you can’t be bothered to put a hat on, can ya?”

The group chuckles cruelly, moves forward, arms outstretched…

And what happens next becomes the stuff of transit legend.



They speak of it now, in hushed tones, the morning the riders of the 17W rose up and took back the winter.  They found him, Mr. Foolish Businessman, swaddled tightly in scarves, decorated with the mismatched and abandoned mittens sometimes found on the bus.  “Wind chill, that’s what’ll get ya,” he repeats.  “It’s the wind chill that’ll get ya…”

And he never again forgot to wear a hat.

36 comments:

vanilla said...

Oh, cruel Winter, release thy grip ere these Minneapolitans lose it.

savannah said...

mid way through reading i had to don a sweater AND a scarf AND my knit hat!! *still shivering* xoxoxoxox

Shelly said...

Since we live in a large terrarium down here where heat and humidity are constant and a given and the overhead glass top of the terrarium only magnifies the warmth, I know I would die my first day in Minneapolis.

Pearl said...

vanilla, I like that!

savannah, the amount of clothing I wear from October to May almost guarantees that I will never lose at strip poker. :-)

Shelly, we would just have to keep you draped in cashmere. :-)

Camille said...

It has hit an astonishing 35 degrees here today. I am leaving the house without a hat. That's right, you heard me correctly...without a DANG hat. I am tired of "hat hair". I am taking back my head. Wish me luck.

bill lisleman said...

"...the weather-respectful of the bus, were to rise up..."
Sounds like a rebellion stirring. I guess anything to get your blood flowing to your brain is good.

joeh said...

I never leave the house without hat and gloves until the temp hits 50!

Never fall asleep on cold concrete...now that is some good advice!

Laughing out loud...because LoL is so phony.

Christian at Point Counter-Point Point Point said...

Wait, I need to worry about falling asleep on concrete now? How am I supposed to camp our for Bieber tick... I mean camp out for tickets to a grown up thing.

Pearl said...

camille, it struck me the other day that I have worn the same industrial-strength coat, the same boots since October. I am SO ready to wear a jacket, maybe a pretty little scarf...

bill, :-)

joeh, We're looking at mid-40s next week. I'll probably faint with excitement.

Christian, you'll need to camp out on a bevy of homeless people. :-)

Belle said...

Love this little story. I used to wonder why a mother would take her kid, minus a coat, to the mall in the dead of winter walking through the parking lot. I wondered until my youngest granddaughter was born. She would throw a hissy-fit about putting a coat on. The shrink said to just let her go without a coat, so we did. We brought one, but it was never used. She also wore gum boots in the summer. Somehow, she has grown up okay, but it was touch and go there for awhile.

jenny_o said...

The next intervention should probably be that biker the bus driver is trying to avoid. I don't care if he does have studded tires!

Perpetua said...

Great story! We get them here too, Pearl, especially young men who go our in freezing temperatures in t-shirts. Our wind-chill isn't as ferocious as yours, but it's still very cold and I want to knock their heads together than wrap them in blankets. :-)

Yamini MacLean said...

Hari Om
I have to wear a hat here to keep the helicopters - errrrr I mean ceiling fans - from cutting my head to shreds. Ice picks they are. Neuralgia generators. Heaven's to Betsy, its enough to make one want to move to the sun...

Certainly knocking Minneapolis off the list!

Leenie said...

The non-gruntled sun-deprived, over-layered of SE Idaho raise their mis-matched mittens in solidarity! However, we don't use wimpy coyote howls to go with our harmonica music. We just turn the imported Yellowstone Wolves on anyone who dares take off their snow mobile suit before April.

Joanne Noragon said...

I think he was lying. He was just transferred from, say, Missouri. He's been around a while; he knows how to dress. Can't be from Chicago; their weather is no better than the rest of us. I'm thinking Missouri.

Cloudia said...

That's what I forgot this morn!


Aloha

Douglas said...

When I was quite young (yes, I actually was!) I often wondered why girls would go to school and women would go out in mid-winter in skirts or dresses. Yet, they did. Once my family dragged us to Florida, the question rarely popped into my head.
The businessman dressed like that because he expected the bus to be heated as well as his office and he figured he could handle the relatively few minutes he would not be in one of them.

mybabyjohn/Delores said...

If someone is stupid enough to go out under dressed for the weather, they deserve what they get. Well intentioned bus riders with outer clothing to share should just let the idiot freeze to deasth.

Linda O'Connell said...

and once he was straightened out...that's all it takes, once :)

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

I bet he was with that group of girls huddled outside the bar last night--they were wearing sleeveless tops and miniskirts.

The Geezers said...

Excellent. the 17W appears to have the same crowd as my 4F on the south side.

Susan Kane said...

You have watched "Rango" haven't you.

That'll teach 'em, the young fool.

Optimistic Existentialist said...

There are people my neighborhood who jog in shorts and t-shirts in the snow LOL

Ian Lidster said...

We have daffodils ready to be put into a vase for display. Sorry, couldn't help myself.
Actually, I took liberties with your winter weather in my most recent blog.

Al Penwasser said...

"And in the Summer, There are Those Who Forget to Wear Clothes Altogether"
Well, I know where I want to go for vacation in July.
Unless it's Michael Moore's house.
Ewwww.....

The Savage said...

I've spent a little time in your part of the country during winter... But then I've also spent part of the very same winter in Northern Quebec... You'd admonish me too if you saw me in 4 degree Fahrenheit temps. I'd have been in maybe a long sleeve t-shirt and jeans and a hat... but if it gets windy I may consider a jacket...

Eva Gallant said...

Sounds like the plot of a Stephen King novel!

The Elephant's Child said...

And the only hats I own are sun hats. No gloves. I haven't worn a coat in nearly twenty years (except occasionally while in Antarctica). No boots. No scarfs. And you have made me long (again) to experience your winter. Some year...

Gigi said...

I'm definitely with Shelly...I'd die up there almost immediately. Now I'm off to put on an extra pair of socks since, for some reason, I'm feeling extra chilly.

Jackie said...

I've never lived anywhere that I had to wear a winter coat over 3 days in a row in the winter, and this winter, I didn't even get my coat out of the closet, so I don't really know how cold you all get or feel, but from the flavor of your writing, it must be bone-chilling cold there.
Thank you for a wonderful read...each time I come here.
Hugs,
J.

HermanTurnip said...

There's nothing in this world that can't be overcome with a good chimichanga.

I remember being a young lad, waking up before the sun to go surfing with my dad. Afterwards we'd always hit up this small shack that served the best chimichangas in the world. *sigh*

Thinking about that brings back that feel, ya know? Good times. Good times...

Rose L said...

Here in Oregon, I often walk around in short sleeves all year round. Occasionally I will wear a light weight jacket sometimes and if it gets snowy or frosty, I will put on my very special heavy coat!!!!
Some of us enjoy the bite of the chill in the air!
And we are not wimps!!!!
NYAHHH!
LOL

Tempo said...

I might have been a little scared to visit you in Minnesota before because of the weather....but now I'm scared stiff of visiting you because you and the other residents are obviously quite crazy...

River said...

I got so chilly reading this that I had to put my fluffy slippers on.

the walking man said...

Well you betcha you just our 24 degrees feel warm. Sure enough.

Daisy said...

What a knucklehead! I yell, "Put a hat on!" at the weatherman on the TV when they make him go out and do the weather in the snow. Why doesn't he wear a hat? He's a weatherman, for heaven's sakes! It drives me crazy.

Happy weekend to you, Pearl! :)