Farewell, winter. Goodbye and ta-ta and a big fat sayonara. Go beat up on Australia for a while.
Nothing personal, Downunderites. It's just that we've had our share, and our fill, of The Longest Season. We may even be ready to welcome another air-polluted summer without so much as a cough of complaint. But we are certainly not ready for:
Any more sanctimonious solicitors on the phone, asking, if our insulation is all right.
Any more of those purely absurd moments when we look out the window, see that it's snowing, call up the weather recording and learn that the chance of precipitation is 40 percent.
Any more of that squeaking when a driver uses one of those plastic thingies to scrape a windshield.
Any more mittens. Any more boots. Any more of that white film that forms on a shoe when it has been implanted in snow.
Any more colds. Any more nationalistic flus. Any more kids who ring the doorbell at 7:30 Sunday morning and offer to shovel your seven steps for a dollar apiece.
So take the hint, winter. Have a little mercy and a little pride. But as you go, give one short listen to what you wrought in the lives of a few of us.
Your car is stuck in the ice? You hail a few passersby. They push. You go. Easy.
Except that ice is a funny thing on Washington's side streets. It doesn't melt. Real funny.
Real funny when the passersby you hail can't push the car without falling down. Even funnier when you've got 15 minutes to make a business appointment that is 20 minutes' drive away.
"Do you have any kitty litter?" asks one pusher. Fresh out, you reply. "Well, why don't you go borrow some? We can put it right under the wheels."
Have you ever asked a neighbor for kitty litter?
Her eyes sort out the possibilities: This guy is weird, this guy is too lazy to go the grocery, this guy's cat is going to lower the property values.
But she forks it over. The car comes popping right out. And the business appointment isn't there.
His car was stuck in the ice.
Saddest story of the winter: Cathleen Calhoun of Springfield, Va., moved here from Chicago in September. Chicagoans know how to drive in snow. Calhoun, 54, had never been stuck and had never had an accident there in all her years of driving.
She bought a new Buick in November. The next day, it snowed. The car was "plowed in" and could not be budged for three days.
On the fourth day, Calhoun budged it as far as Backlick Road. Where someone sideslipped into her car, wrecking it.
All-news radio never has better ratings than on mornings after it has snowed, or is snowing. The reason is the list of school closings.
According to a source at WTOP-AM (he calls himself Golden Throat), the first snowed-out announcement in each of this winter's big storms was called in by the "principal" of Mount Vernon High School.
First came suspicion, then a little investigative reporting. The "principal" turned out to be an 11th grader who liked days off.
Figuring there is no such thing as too soon, a conscientious homeowner calls Sears Roebuck on a 10-degree February day. He inquires about maintenance work on his air conditioners.
"Are you kidding?" asks the service adviser.
A gray rush-hour morning along Connecticut Avenue. It snowed 36 hours before. Gutters and sidewalks are ankle-deep in slush.
Grandmotherish woman boarding the L-2 drops her 50 cents just as she jumps up on the bottom step. The coins disappear into the muck.
"All I have is ten dollars," she tells the driver. He lets her ride free.
Hope-springs-eternal department: Irving's Sport Shops held a tennis togs sale in January. All sales records were shattered.
Murphy's Law department: Hechinger's, Peoples Drug, Memco and Montgomery Ward all happen to be sold out of snow shovels the third week of January. At which point it snows harder than at any other time the whole winter.
Someone has forgotten to shovel an icy piece of sidewalk in Crystal City.Pedestrians are careening like Marx Brothers.
See Dick slip. See him skid flat on his back. See Jame stoop to help him up. See Jane tumble too.
Hear Dick ask Jane out for a beer. "It's the least I can do," he says. Hear Jane accept.
Sporting note: Although they have lost 80 percent of their games, fans still wait by the Washington Capitals dressing room door for autographs of their hockey heroes.
One player, since banished to the minor leagues, is the first Capital to come out into the cold after an especially bumbling loss to the Detroit Red Wings at Capital Centre. As he buttons his coat, he loses his balance and falls.
"I thought the game was over," remarks an obviously knowledgable fan.
It may just be that a new game is beginning. Late in February, a citizen's revolt took place in the Aspen Hill Shopping Center in Silver Spring. Sick to death of one particular Pothole, a group of teen-agers filled it one Saturday afternoon with mulch and crocus seedlings.
Can spring be far behind?