Some new suggestions for cold-weather survival

January 19, 1994|By MIKE ROYKO

Mike Royko is on vacation. In his absence, we are reprinting some of his favorite columns. This column was originally published on Jan. 9, 1976.

Before I left for work this morning, I read the paper and there was a story with tips on surviving the cold spell.

It said dress warmly. So I put on long underwear, boots and earmuffs. Actually, I already had them on when I got up. It said to avoid frostbite, wiggle toes and fingers. All the way to work, I wiggled my toes and fingers, even on a crowded bus. A young lady standing next to me on the bus was offended.

I followed all the instructions, and when I got to work I was cold and numb and miserable.

That always happens, because it is the same lousy advice we get every cold winter. I've been reading the same stuff all my life, and wiggling my toes and fingers, and wearing long underwear, and taking shortcuts through office buildings, and not rubbing snow on frostbite but using warm water instead, and putting a scarf over my face, and every winter I'm still cold and miserable.

We need some new cold weather advice. And since nobody else is offering any, here are a few of my suggestions for surviving sub-zero temperatures in Chicago, where I live, and other Northern cities.

1) Don't go to work. To hell with it. The world isn't going to end if you don't show up. And even if it does, you might as well be home to make sure looters don't break in. Call in with some kind of excuse. Tell them a pack of wild dogs is outside your door and will eat you if you go out.

Then stay in bed all morning. When you get up, don't wash. It's bad for you. Eskimos don't. Spend the afternoon watching the soap operas. There are some good ones on. Really dirty. They do more shocking things in one segment than Helen Trent or Our Gal Sunday did in a lifetime. If your wife knows the soap opera plots, and what they've been doing in detail, you might make a mental note to check on what else she has been up to while you are at work. TV can put ideas in a person's head, you know.

Or, in the morning, you might call a few pals and suggest that they take the day off, too, and invite them over and get a poker game going. There's nothing like sitting around on a cold day, playing poker and drinking beer, when everybody else is at work. You'll like it.

And order out for some pizza. It's the best thing for warding off frostbite. You never hear of frostbite cases in Rome.

If your wife says that having you and your friends around the house all day makes her nervous, tell her to go out and get a job and she won't be so nervous anymore. On the way, she can start up the car and run it for a while. That's another good cold weather tip.

The next morning, call in with another excuse. Say there is a grizzly bear blocking the driveway. And -- another cold weather tip -- open a fresh deck of cards. Pizza gets them marked up easy.

2) Maybe you aren't the kind of person who can sit home all day. OK. Then get up and leave for work. But don't go there. Go out to the airport and buy a ticket for the next plane to Jamaica.

If you don't have enough cash, use credit cards or write a check. You can pay later. And even if you can't pay later, don't worry. Let them sue. This is an emergency.

When you get to Jamaica, tell a cab driver to take you to a little bar called Toto's. On the way, stop at a men's shop and pick up some cutoff pants, a T-shirt with bold stripes, a bandanna, some wrap-around sunglasses, and a long, thin cigar. But remember to take off your black, ribbed business socks.

When you get to Toto's Bar, ask for Toto (he wears a black eye patch) and tell him I sent you. He'll fix you a great rum and scotch and gin mixed with coconut milk. Don't have more than three. The coconut milk is fattening.

When you settle down by the pool, call home collect. Tell your wife you've been kidnapped by some crazy radicals, and you don't know how long you'll be gone but you'll keep in touch. If she asks you why you are chuckling, tell her the radicals are tickling your feet.

3) Or go to Sears and buy an extra set of long underwear.

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