Thursday, January 21, 2016

Despicable Snow

I am making stew. I had to go to two food stores to find potatoes and to a third one for bananas. This is because the Washington area, according to the media, will soon be buried under either inches or feet of snow, depending on who’s doing the reporting. A blizzard, people chortle. Yesterday, we had a dusting, less than an inch, I’m told, that fell right as the rush hour began. Friends are recounting three- and four-hour commutes with the same horrified glee I imagine Romans displayed at the Circus.

Personally, I don’t think there’s a word in French or English that adequately describes my feelings about this loathsome winter abomination. I abhor snow. I despise it.

Perhaps this stems from my childhood in Paris, a city that rarely gets snowed upon. Except that one year, when I was a kid, it did snow, and the two snowplow drivers were—of course—on strike. Traffic was at a standstill amid a cacophony of horns and the pin-pan of a police car siren. I was in the courtyard of our apartment building on the Rue de la Terrasse packing a snowball meant for my aging and gimpy Uncle Répaud.  Uncle Répaud was a World War I veteran who’d lost some toes in the trenches, and this gave him the slow, rolling gait of a drunken sailor on shore leave. He moved slowly but steadily, walking his dog, Soldat, who only had three legs and regularly urinated on my uncle’s shoes.

Soldat must have sensed something. Perhaps his missing leg gave him a form of canine ESP, such as the reputed heightened hearing of visually impaired people. He turned just as I was winding up for the throw, growled showing yellow teeth, and launched himself in my direction. The jump was so energetic that it tore the leash from Oncle Répaud’s mittened hand. Soldat’s large head hit me square in the chest. I fell over backwards. My own head hit the ground with a fearsome thud and I fainted for a moment. I came to with Soldat on my chest, leering and drooling, his foul asphyxiating breath washing over my face. Oncle Répaud toddled over carefully; the ground was slippery and he didn’t want to fall. He wrestled the dog off me but did not admonish the beast, as I felt he should have. Instead, her looked at me blankly, shrugged his shoulders and ambled off. I ran back inside and was reprimanded for having lost a shoe, which I hadn’t noticed. I was stripped down to my undies without ceremony and my soaked pants, shirt and coat were draped over the radiators. I didn’t even get any compassion for the knot on the back of my head. And all this was because of snow.

Around here, people seem to think snow is pretty. It is, for a nanosecond, until it gets gray and slushy. It breaks branches that fall on the power lines and knock out the electricity for days, so that I have to spend a night or three at Inns of Virginia, where the rooms reek of stale smoke and God-knows-what-else. Snow makes people trip and fall down stairs where they lie unconscious until their cats eat them. I know because this almost happened to me a few years ago, and though the cat didn’t really approach me, I could tell he was considering it. Snow makes people stupid, which explains why there’s a run on toilet paper as soon as the first few flakes appear. Snow, in other words, has no redeeming value.

In fact, let’s face it--if snow was the last woman on earth, I’d stay celibate, even if she’d have me.

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