Don’t Blame Me
I LIKE SNOW LESS than I like going up and down flights of stairs. I like snow less than I like going up and down flights of stairs that don’t have handrails on both sides.
I like snow less than I like Jeff Bridges movies – and that is saying something.
But why do I feel this way? Is there some deep, dark, pseudo-psychological, brain cell tweak memory that has made me feel this way? Could be.
Reaching back into the musty attic of my memory I am sure that, up until the age of ten or so, I was really into winter and snow. There were snowball fights defending the snow-fort we constructed in the back yard. And there was sledding down the sloping streets in the neighborhood. We did that, ignoring the fact that we lived two blocks from a steel mill, which had heavy duty semis going up and down the streets twenty-four hours a day. We rode our sleds down hills where the streets were under construction from dirt to pavement. I think that that might be the when and where that my feelings toward snow may have changed.
I was about nine or ten years old and just one block away from our house was a street that went downhill for three whole blocks until it hit the railroad tracks. There was a lot of work going on along the way downhill. Huge storm drain pipes were being installed and they sat along the side of the street waiting to be buried come spring.
To get a really good rate of speed downhill you would get a running start, then throw yourself down onto the sled and hold on. Steering was accomplished mostly by dragging one foot or the other into the ice. On the day in question, when my love for snow disappeared, I was just flying down that hill!
From what I was told by the other kids, I have no direct personal memory, I was going downhill at a good clip when another kid lost control and swerved right into my path. By reflex I dropped my left foot into the ice and made a sharp right turn right into a huge section of the storm drain pipe by the side of the street.
The next thing I actually recall is being carried by several kids back to our house and my mother screaming. It seems that my face was covered in blood and already swelling up to resemble an overripe cantaloupe.
After a quick preliminary inspection somebody drove us to the hospital emergency room. This was in an era before Paramedics came to you.
The immediate end result was three stitches under my left eye, a face so bloated that I ate soup through a straw for a week, and parental confiscation of my sled. They failed to appreciate my quick reaction time, avoiding a potential collision with another kid, and only saw my failure to choose the lesser of the two collision targets. There were few soups available that could be navigated successfully through a soda straw.
Yup. I think it was then that my love affair with winter and snow ended in an image seared into my brain of scar tissue and sucking up broth through a paper straw.
So, don’t blame me if I grumble and moan about winter. Blame that other kid who couldn’t keep his own sled under control.