When snow falls, it's time to stay inside and chill out


December 11, 1992|By MIKE LITTWIN

As I write this, it is snowing. Snow means different things t different people. To me, it is God's way of saying to stay indoors.

And so, I am sitting in front of a not-quite-roaring fire (well, how often does your fire actually roar?), sipping on some hot chocolate (yes, of course with marshmallows) and considering life as a snow-challenged person.

I have not been lucky with snow. This dates back to my youth when (this is true) a bunch of us kids were nearly arrested for innocently throwing snowballs at unarmed passers-by. A well-meaning, and yet possibly psychotic, policeman chased us for about three miles until we were finally able to elude him by running past a doughnut shop.

It only got worse after that. Eventually, I would have to drive in the stuff. At first, I knew no fear. I was 16. At 16, one fears nothing but zits, trigonometry and asking out Laura Bromstein. My concept of driving, as an example, was to mash on the accelerator until my Jan-and-Dean racin' machine hit either Mach 1 or a guardrail. I thought it was how you got girls.

Such macho behavior is not much different than what is observed in the animal world when young bucks butt heads at high gear in order to impress young buckettes. Except, of course, there are fewer skid marks and the bucks' parents don't have to pay antler insurance.

Anyway, I was at a high school basketball game when the snow began. When I came out, I got in my car, a bunch of guys piled in, and I mashed on the gas pedal, expecting the usual loud squeal of tires and the hoped-for look of fear on the faces of any nearby adults. Instead, the car, as you may have guessed, did a 360 right there in the parking lot, and I reacted very much the way George Bush would years later at a certain Japanese banquet.

So, I don't like to drive in the snow. Does anybody? Yes, there are those people who come from places like the Yukon who don't even consider it snow unless it's at least a foot deep and call people like me weenies. OK, I'm a weenie. Happy? I'm a weenie because when I drive a car I prefer that I have more control than a dog does when running on a frozen pond.

And even if I had one of those ready-for-any-natural-disaster, four-wheel-drive vehicles, how would I know some idiot isn't going to plow into me? If it snows a quarter of an inch, there's at least one guy chiseled into the side of the road on my exit off the beltway.

Snow is for kids and sleds and mittens and snowmen and incipient frostbite. Mostly, it's for getting out of school, which is about the best thing that can happen to a kid. I mean, say you're 8, and you already have a bike, a dog and Disco Barbie, what more is there? Even if you had to put another day at the end of the school year, you didn't really mind. That was months away, and with any luck, the school might burn down by June.

But I know grown-ups who love snow. They must love snow or they wouldn't pay thousands of dollars to go skiing in it. Those of you who have been skiing know the wonders of the sport. You drive someplace very cold that is often experiencing blizzard conditions. You pay a lot of money to rent (or own) skis, to rent (or own) ski boots, to rent (or own) a ski lodge.

The thing about ski boots is that you'd rather have root canal than wear them. Here's how they fit. If you experience mere pain when you put them on, they don't fit. If your feet feel like Dustin Hoffman's teeth did in "Marathon Man," then they're perfect.

I went skiing once, under duress. My wife and I took lessons on the bunniest of bunny hills, with an incline of about 2 percent. If it were any flatter, we'd be in Kansas. As we were waiting in line for our first trip down the hill, a woman fell and apparently broke her leg.

The very athletic-looking ski instructor, tanned in wintertime, had never seen anyone injured on this particular hill, which looked about as dangerous as your typical driveway. He didn't know what to do, other than pull her to the side where she could wait, screaming, for the stretcher. The lesson continued. At which point, the next skier slammed right into the woman, falling on the same leg. It was very funny, unless you happened to be the person in agony.

This is when I leaped into action. I immediately pulled off my skis and raced to the lodge where I had a hot toddy and pledged I would leave as soon as the thaw hit and never, ever come back.

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