You can add snow to the list of things, like fireworks, that I was totally taken with as a kid, then grew to regard with something between ambivalence and soul-twisting hatred as an adult, then started to appreciate again once I got together with Ashley. The girl has done wonders for my disposition (seriously; you think I’m an asshole now, you should’a seen me, like, five years ago — ask Varjak). It’s quite something how having someone to share it with can turn a day-long blizzard from a confounding nuisance into a wondrous and magical experience.
So imagine my delight when I woke up this morning to find myself in the middle of a day-long blizzard. It started snowing well before I was up, and as I write this it’s around 10:30 p.m. and still going, albeit only barely. There’s like two feet of snow on the ground. Earlier today some due pulled into the parking lot of our building to plow it out and got stuck. That’s not a good sign. But once we helped get him un-stuck (I did very little myself) we came inside, drank coffee and hot chocolate, watched Damaged Lives and Sex Madness — two hysterical exploitation films from the 1930s that Ashley got as part of a boxed set a few weeks ago — and the Horrors of Spider Island episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000, waded through the knee-high drifts to get a couple of Cokes from the vending machine across the street, and it’s turned out to be a pretty damn good day.
It’s been a long time since we got this much snow all at once. The sheer volume reminds me of the blizzard we had around here in 1983. We’ve had comparable snowfall since then a few times, but I always remember the Blizzard of ’83 because it’s the only one I have a story for.
Dad had left to rejoin the Navy, so it was just Mom and me at home. She went out to get a start on shoveling the driveway, and I went with her. I was three years old, and all bundled up like the little brother in A Christmas Story. Remember how he couldn’t get his arms to go down? That was me. I soon realized I wasn’t going to be much help with the shoveling, so I wound up moving into the front yard and just fucking around in the snow. Mom went inside at one point — maybe she was through with shoveling, I’m not sure — and I fell over. I landed on my side, and with me being so small and the snow being so high, I couldn’t get up. After a brief struggle, I did the only thing any self-respecting three year-old in my position could do: I screamed for help.
In a few seconds Mom had raced outside. “What happened?” she asked.
“I can’t get up!”
And Mom, bless her heart, a woman who had been raised in the strictest and most pious of Christian families, who’d helped to raise her younger brothers, and who’d had the sacred duty of a mother to her child drilled into her head over and over again since birth, started to laugh. Uncontrolled, uninhibited, she laughed and laughed and laughed. At the pathetic sight of her only child trapped in a three-foot-high pile of snow, struggling to free himself, she laughed.
Then she ran back into the house.
Another minute or so went by, and she returned with her Kodak Instamatic camera. She snapped a few pictures of me in my helpless state, then reached down and pulled me out of the snow. We went inside, she warmed me up with a cup of cocoa . . . and we may have made snow ice cream at some point that day, too, I’m not sure. She still has the pictures she took, and if I can get hold of them one day, I will gladly scan them and post them here so you can all see what the hell was so funny about a little boy trapped in a snow drift.
She ran outside at the screams of her little boy, discovered him trapped sideways in the snow, and found it so funny she was compelled to record it for posterity. And I’ve always loved her for that.