WINTERLINGS," those of us who live where it snows, fall into one of three categories: snow lovers, snow haters, and those who pretend they love the snow then go to Florida when it happens.
There are those winterlings who lilke to complain that everybody else panics at the first snowflake and nobody else knows how to drive on icy roads, then they can hardly wait to sleep in.
During January and February, everyone talks about snow all the time, whether it happens or not.
Now let's take Barney at the office. A real snow hater and doomsayer.
He gets on the elevator early in the morning and says: "Today's a breeder. There's going to be a hell of a snow storm; I feel it in my bones. Be careful out there."
Or, "Did you see what happened in Buffalo last night? Well, let me tell you, it can happen here, you just wait and see. We've been lucky so far."
Or, "It's getting worse out there, I just saw a 10-car pile-up on the Beltway. We'll be lucky if we get home tonight."
Then he says, "Do you remember that snow storm in the '70s when many of us had to spend the night on our desks covered with typewriter covers?"
"Yes, I remember," I tell him. "We had dinner guests and they stayed three days."
Barney makes you feel the end of the world is coming with the first snow flake, and if it doesn't come, then you've missed something important.
Then there's Dixie, also given to snow panic. She runs out to the grocery store when it opens. "We'd better hurry. I'm stocking up on eggs, bread and milk and, of course, some kerosene."
I usually run to the store, get the cat food and stand behind Dixie, who spends around $400 to stock her shelves for weeks.
The snow lovers are almost as bad in their exuberance.
Kids, for instance, see snow as a way to get out of school.
Snow lovers call early in the morning as chirpy as a snow bird: "Isn't this great? The kids will be home and we are shining up the rungs of the sleds. Come on over later for hot rum, we're making snow ice cream."
And there's always one historian: "Snow doesn't bother me," he always says. "Where I grew up we walked to school three miles in the stuff in heavy boots. When I was a boy, schools never closed. That's why kids didn't get as sick in the winter, it made us hardier."
Or, from Hope: "Isn't it beautiful? It makes all the world so quiet. I just love it, I'd hate to live where it didn't snow . . . The neighbors are out using their snow blower. Isn't that ridiculous? It is just going to keep on coming down."
The middle group of winterlings doesn't even notice snow and they don't worry about it. Take my daughter in Cleveland. The other day I called her to just talk, and I said, "Is it snowing there? It is here." (You know how long-distance calls always start with a couple of minutes of weather exchange talk.)
"Oh, I dunno, I haven't looked out," she said. "Wait a minute I'll go see . . . Yep, there's a few inches on the ground. We never notice, it snows so much here."
That's the secret, get used to it, don't sweat it. Snow makes a lot of places a lot prettier anyway. Cleveland, for instance.
I've lived in snow country most of my life. We made snowmen, snow forts and angel wings in the front yard; you know, you lie down on your back in the snow, flap your arms and get totally wet and cold.
If snow falls during the night and stops by morning, it is lovely, peaceful, a marvel of mother nature. If it snows at commuting time or when planning a weekend car trip, it is a pain in the butt.
But move to Bali? Never.