Squawk Radio

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Connie Gives Advice to Newcomers to the Northland

The world is a cold, cold place.

This morning, it was a brisk MINUS TEN FRICKING DEGREES outside! The weatherman cheerfully informed us that as of today we’re experiencing the coldest December since ’91. Oh, joy. Now add snow. About four or five inches thus far. Now, to complete this idyllic scene, set little Connie on the end of the driveway with a shovel (because in a fit of economic frugality her husband decided that we could shovel the bloody driveway ourselves. Heck! It’ll be good exercise!) and “Blue Christmas” takes on a whole new meaning.

I’ve lived in this state (Minnesota, not the cold) for most of my life and every winter I find myself asking the age old question, how do polar bears keep that smile on their faces? I’ve pretty much figured it out.

So, for any of you out there new to frigid climes, here is my advice:

Step One: Cold or not, it’s pretty. Arm yourself mentally by sitting well back from a window and experiencing the pretty from a distance. Do not attempt to go out during this adjustment period. You are simply zenning into the thing. Do so slowly. You might want to consider drinking a quart or so of hot spiced wine while you contemplate how pretty all that cold is.

the view from my office window yesterday a.m.

Step Two: Go outside. You can do this. The trick is to forget every impulse toward being fashionable you have ever had or ever anticipate having. Embrace The Ugly as you prepare to venture out into The Pretty. Layers? Think extreme layering. Think swaddling for grown-ups. The good part of this is that you can forget your diet for the entire winter. No one has any idea what your body looks like under all that stuff. See included picture of Connie for affirmation.

Step Three: Adopt denial as a lifestyle. “It’s not cold; it’s invigorating.” I have found this works well for marriage, too.

Step Four: One step up from denial is.... ? Psychosis! That’s right! Another viable lifestyle alternative. Don’t just experience winter, become one with winter! Winter is your friend. Heed the voices in your head, the ones that say "take up winter sports" like cross country-skiing, or ice fishing –and I’m not talking the completely wimped out ice-fishing en la casa done in the film GRUMPY OLD MEN. I’m talking ice fishing as in “sitting on an upturned bucket beside a hole drilled into the center of a lake exposed to minus thrity degree windchill while you stare at a piece of monofilament." Hey. It’s fun (or so the voices claim.)

Step Five: Okay. You've tried befriending winter. Now try outlasting him. Hibernate. But, before you hibernate remember, you’ll be living off your fat for the next four or five months so make sure you have plenty to live off of. The Scandinavians of Minnesota take this advice seriously. Ergo the stockpiles of butter cookies that reside in every garage (because, let’s face it, there’s not nearly enough room in the fridge for all of the cookies you're going to eat.)

Step Six: You’re going to be fat and you’re going to be bored and December is rerun month on TV. Order books online! MY books.

Step Seven: When you’re done with my books (okay—any good romance) you will still be fat but you won’t be bored. Sex is a good winter sport. If you keep the lights off.

Steve Eight: If sex is too much exercise for you, drink a lot. It helps numb you to the depression that has set in as a result of having packed on a walloping 20 pounds in one month and therefore being too ugly to enjoy sex.

Step Nine: There is no step eight. You have done all you can do to face down Old Man Winter. If you follow my advice you might not get cabin fever, find the chain saw, and go after your neighbors (the ones who backed over your flower bed last summer? yeah. Those bastards!) But just to be safe, maybe you ought think about taking a vacation to a Caribbean Island. That’s my plan.
Connie Brockway, 11:12 AM