Now is the winter of my discontent.
This winter has been colder than the past few winters, snowier than the past few winters, more worthy of complaint than the past few winters.
Of course, when you complain about winter, people will call you a wimp. They will point out that, duh, winter is cold in these here parts. They will suggest that if you can’t stand the heat, you should get out of the kitchen, or, to use a more appropriate metaphor, if you can’t stand the cold, you should get out of the meat locker.
To which I say: I don’t hate winter. I hate everything associated with winter.
If this winter consisted solely in pausing in silent wonder as snowflakes fell from the heavens like God’s own dandruff, if winter was entirely riding in horse-drawn sleighs, wrapped in warm blankets and sipping hot toddies, or sitting by the fire, listening to the wind howl, knowing you needn’t stir till spring, I would say, yes, winter, bring it.
But there is no sleigh. There is only my car, which needs to be cleared of snow, along with my driveway and the path to my front door. There is the pile of towels just inside the door, sodden now from the wet snow boots we have kicked off. There is the grit underfoot from the ice melt substance I have scattered outside but accidentally tracked inside so that it now scores the hardwood floors. There is the spalling concrete on my front walk, caused by the corrosive effects of the ice melt.
There is the snow, less picturesque now, blackened by car exhaust, yellowed by dog bladder.
I endure. But I would endure so much better if I didn’t have to deal with winter’s housekeeping. I want more winter wonderland, less winter drudgery.
What really bothers me about this winter is what I’m learning about myself. I’ve never seen the appeal of Florida or North Carolina except as places to visit. Now I see why people flee the cold.
Cold. So very, very cold. And old. As the Bard wrote, “Age, with his stealing steps, hath clawed me in his clutch.”
Now, where did I put that ice melt?
I was working from home the other day when the doorbell rang. It was a guy selling replacement windows. “We’re just installing some windows for one of your neighbors up the street and wanted to see if you were interested in getting a quote,” he said.
I guess there was a time when door-to-door salespeople were welcomed, and if not welcomed, respected, or if not respected, at least tolerated. It was an up-from-the-bootstraps sort of profession. If you could persuade people to buy your brushes, vacuum cleaners or encyclopedias, who knew how successful you could be?
Now, though, we don’t like strangers coming to our doors. When the doorbell rings, it’s either someone trying to persuade you to shed whatever religious beliefs you have and join them in their faith or it’s an earnest young person who wants you to save the Bay.
Or it’s a serial killer.
That’s the fear, anyway, and it’s why I always like having Charlie, my 75-pound black Lab, standing next to me when I answer the door to a stranger. (Never mind that Charlie would offer as much protection as an Angora rabbit. I think he’d rat me out for a single Snausage.)
What really gets me about today’s door-to-door salesmen is their typical patter. Almost without exception they say they’re already in the neighborhood doing work for one of my neighbors and are just curious to see if they can do a little deal with me.
They’re lying, right? Or does every neighborhood have one resident who is perpetually getting his windows replaced and his basement waterproofed and his trees trimmed?
Then there’s the meat. A couple of times a year a truck comes through our neighborhood selling meat. Like the others, these guys just happen to be in the area delivering meat to one of my neighbors and want to know if I want any.
“Meat from a stranger” might be a good name for a band, but it’s not how I like to acquire my pot roast and pork chops. Buying meat from a door-to-door salesman is like getting a donor heart valve from some guy you sat next to on the Metro. Unhygienic.
You’d think the Internet would put these people out of business, but they soldier on, just one door away from success.