I was talking to my friend Vivian the other day and she told me that she would totally move back to Chicago, if it weren’t for the weather.
But you live in New York City, I said. New York isn’t exactly Palm Springs, you know.
She told me that yeah it’s cold, but New York never gets as cold as Chicago.
I told her that being able to endure sub-zero temperatures builds character. It teaches survival skills. Like me, I know how to get by. I don’t leave my house with less than four layers on. I have wool blankets and extra hats in my trunk, and hand warmers in my glove compartment. In the Midwest, you learn that in winter, fashion is for fools.
Take the other night. After getting home an hour late because the trains were delayed due to drifting snow on the switches, I had to shovel my car out from under three feet of snow, piled high and compact by the snowplows. It was so high that I couldn’t even open my car door. Twenty minutes later, I had cleared the snow and ice from around my tires and doors, and made a path out to the street. Then, it took me fifteen minutes of rocking the car back and forth – drive, reverse, drive, reverse, floor it, wait here comes another plow, now go, give it gas – until I finally was able to swerve out of that parking spot. And did you ever hear me complaining? Even once? No, you didn’t. Because you weren’t there. But if you had been there, you would’ve heard something like this:
Motherf@#$in goddamn snow plows! You have got to be kidding me. Oh, you $%&#@. If you f@#$ing plow me in again while I’m trying to get out of this spot, so help me god I will pull you out of that plow and beat you to a pulp with my shovel. And you too, you lazy neighbor man, staring at me for thirty minutes while my wheels are spinning in vain. Ever hear of a little help? Oh, I’m sorry – is your prissy little dog too cold to stay out here so you can help me get out of this frickin’ iceberg? Why don’t you get a dog that actually has fur, huh? Huh?! You heard me. Yeah, you’d better look away. Don’t make me get my jumper cables, sh*t. I swear to god – I know I say this every year – but this time I mean it, I am done. I have had it with this subzero bullsh*t for 28 days in a row. If one more dripping nose leaky boot hacking cough mofo shoves into me on the train again, I’m gonna lose it. I will kill someone, and it won’t be quick or painless. Mofo.
So anyway, I told Vivian I never thought I’d say this, but New York has made her soft.

19 Responses to “Character”

  1. mainja Says:

    have i mentioned lately that i love you?

  2. Dave2 Says:

    I have been to places plenty more cold than Chicago… but the wind always makes it FEEL so much worse. Biting, slashing winds that chill you to the bone.
    So don’t go forgetting your gloves anywhere… :-)

  3. Rhea Says:

    Winter, as a concept, is getting reaaaalllly old.

  4. sween Says:

    Pffff… Americans. Bunch of wimps. Ducks.]

  5. roy Says:

    That’s how bad Chicago is? That New York makes you soft? Is that why you guys talk funny? Because your cheeks are frozen?

  6. jenny Says:

    mainja: i can never hear that enough from you. :)
    dave2: i’ve been afraid to tell anyone that i have now lost my third pair of mittens in as many months. i really do need those mitten clips.
    rhea: amen, sister!
    sween: well, to be fair, you canadians genetically have that layer of fur to keep you warm, so you can’t really compare.
    roy: talk funny? do we talk funny in chicaaaaago?

  7. sandra Says:

    I’m laughing as I remember the first time I saw an ironing board holding a parking spot. I need to blog about winter parking in Chicago. :-)

  8. Anonymous Says:

    Dear Jenny,
    People in New York never swear. And the sun shines most days.

  9. Karl Says:

    You wear mittens? That’s hawt.

  10. RW Says:

    You never fail to crack me up.

  11. churlita Says:

    I feel your pain. Literally. It’s even colder in Iowa, because there are none of those tall buildings to stop the wind. The only thing I like about it, is that it’s fun to watch everyone walk around so covered up, that no one can tell who anyone else is. It’s like we have a whole town of people who look like the unibomber.

  12. sizzle Says:

    something about you saying mofo… it just gets me. right. here. :)

  13. jenny Says:

    sandra: isn’t that hilarious? so far i’ve seen lawn chairs, weber grills, boards, crates… never an ironing board though!
    vivian: hmm. i seem to recall you telling me that every single day in NYC, something triggers your gag reflex. all that sunshine?
    karl: wow, i never knew. do long underwear do anything for you? ;)
    RW: thanks – so glad my vulgar rants can entertain! :)
    churlita: actually, the buildings just create wind tunnels. and i agree – i couldn’t recognize my own mother in the crowd of coats, scarves, hats, and gloves!
    sizzle: i’ll be sure to drop the “m” word once or twice in portland.

  14. Tracy Lynn Says:

    And I’M the crazy ass scary girl? I can’t remember the last time I threatened anyone with a shovel. OK, that might be because I don’t actually OWN a shovel, but still. Glad to see you have it in you. Well done!

  15. teahouseblossom Says:’re totally right. I picked NY over Chicago for my legal career for just that reason. Being from the Deep South, there’s a limit to the cold weather that I can endure!

  16. peefer Says:

    Okay Jenny, like everything in this story is credible and all, but I’m not buying the bit about the extra hats in the trunk. No one keeps extra hats in the trunk unless they’ve been on a murdering spree and they’re disposing bodies and—
    Sorry, uh, I really have to go, Jenny. You take care okay.

  17. Dop Says:

    So far, I haven’t really found it all to be too bad. Yes, it’s cold. But we all know it won’t last, right? Remember those few days last summer when it was so hot we couldn’t breathe? A bike ride from my house to The BF’s place left me dehydrated and ready for my next heart attack.

  18. shari Says:

    So, um, not being much of a city girl myself, I’m stuck here on the concept of you having your car parked somewhere, even though you’re riding the subway or train or whatever you call it, the L? Um, if you take the train, why do you need your car? And if you take your car, why do you ride the train? Can’t you just run Jen, run?

  19. jenny Says:

    tracy lynn: you’re the person i want with me the next time i’m plowed in, because i know you would’ve threatened the man w/ the dog into helping us out.
    thb: weather-wise, i think you made the right choice!
    peefer: you only need to worry when you find duct tape and garbage bags in my trunk… both of which, i think, are actually there.
    dop: for all my complaining, i’ll gladly take freezing cold over insufferable heat. at least i can put on more layers in the winter!
    shari: lemme ‘splain – i could walk to the el, but the el makes 1,000 stops on the way to the loop, so i take the commuter train instead. much faster, but the station’s about a mile and a half from my house – too far to walk in -5 degrees!