* It was so cold, the politicians had their hands in their own pockets.
It was so cold in Beverly Hills even folks without Botox couldn’t move their faces.
“It’s coooold!” complained my wife, as she burrowed under a blanket. I admit, there was a light chill in the air as we sat at rest in the living room, watching the latest Christmas movies on the tube. But relatively speaking, how cold was it?
It was a day in Portland when winter made itself known with more than the usual emphasis. Snow had been falling off and on all morning and afternoon, accompanied by whistling winds pushing the trees hither and yon. In the evening the snow turned to freezing rain, building a crunchy crust atop the snow, entombing branches and plants in a layer of ice.
But in the living room, the thermostat was set to 68°F (20°C). If it were a spring day outside that would be considered balmy. We’d be wearing t-shirts, daring to reveal winter bleached legs while breaking out the shorts. What’s the difference? Was it more than just cold air pooling around our feet on a winter night?
In defense of my wife, she was not bred for the cold. Born and raised in the Philippines, a tropical place where the notion of snow shares fabled ground with Santa Claus, folks are more conditioned for hot weather than cold. Even swimming; I remember scuba diving in a lagoon there where the local dive master wore both a full wetsuit and a shorty because the lagoon water was a mere 80°F (27°C) instead of the usual 83°F (28°C). I wore a wetsuit too, unzipped because I was overheating in what I thought was bathtub warm water.
I could claim to be inured to the cold. After all, I did much of my growing up in Minnesota, a land where the depths of winter can drop to -30°F (-34°C). And that’s not even counting the wind chill. Don’t know what a wind chill is? Consider yourself lucky.
It was so cold the optician was giving away free ice scrapers with every new pair of eyeglasses.
It was so cold when we milked the cows, we got ice cream. When we milked the brown cows, we got chocolate ice cream.
But that was many moons ago – I’ve been in Oregon nearly 40 years now. The tincture of antifreeze I once had in my blood, allowing me to walk to school in little more than a denim jacket when it was but 20°F (-7°C) – this has evaporated.
In truth, the antifreeze started its disappearing act before I left Minnesota. Once I graduated from walking to driving, venturing outside afoot, amassing icicles on my mustache lost its charm. Hence my reason for moving to less extreme climes.
It was so cold the dogs were getting stuck to the fire hydrants.
It was so cold we had an ice-fishing shack in the bathtub.
So on those days when the roses are as encased in ice as a jilted lover’s heart, and the wife bundles up in sweaters and blankets, the ice cubes that were once my toes suggest I grab a blanket too.
* I found the cold jokes on the internet. Trying to dream them up would have given me brain freeze.