The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Milk, bread, and 7 boxes of condoms: How D.C. prepares for a blizzard


The snow was piling up last January. Work was canceled. Hunkered down for winter storm Juno with her two roommates and a roommate’s male friend, Regina’s plans included snacks, movies, and drinking. Her plans did not include hooking up.

But everyone got a little tipsy, and the roommates went to bed, leaving Regina, 26, and the guy alone on the couch. They decided to watch “Frozen,” and turned it into a drinking game.

“We set rules of when to drink in ‘Frozen’ —  anytime a song starts, anytime weather is used as a metaphor,” she said. “That put more liquor in the system, which relaxed any type of nerves he had.”

You can see where this is going.

“I kid you not — it was the worst hookup of my life,” Regina said. But it was cold outside, and an interested guy was right there in her living room, and she didn’t even have to put on any makeup or do her hair.

“Your standards just plummet,” said Regina, who, like many others in this story, asked to be identified by only her first name.  “As the snow piles high, the standards fall low sexually, and you’re just like, you know what? S—, I’ll take anything that walks this way.”

Just as the impending blizzard is causing a panic on our roads and in our ransacked grocery stores, there is a similar freak-out happening for many of the region’s singles. They might be hunting around for someone to keep them warm over the cold weekend — or once the snow begins, like Regina, they may find that cabin fever lowers their inhibitions.

In a Facebook post, Despina Panagoulias recounted what she saw during the rush to stock up at stores on Wednesday. “Guy in line in front of me at CVS purchased: milk … chips, dip and 7 (seven!) boxes of condoms. I chuckled, he winked.”

According to online dating app Hinge, in the days before Juno last January, activity on the app throughout the East Coast was 27 percent higher than average in the days leading up to the storm, and 47 percent higher during the worst of the storm. The average user logged in five times each day during the storm, compared to their usual three times.

Offers are rolling in on Washington’s Craigslist casual encounters section: “Have you gotten your milk and bread? What about your snowstorm [fun] buddy?” asked one ad. “If you trudge through the snow to get to me, I think you’ll like how I warm you up.”

People who are in new relationships (together two months or fewer) have a different decision to make: They can get snowed in with their new partner — and potentially get sick of each other after three days in a studio apartment — or weather the storm separately, which may put a chill on their relationship.

For Jack*, 29, it’s a little bit of both. He’s in a polyamorous relationship, and his primary partner, Kate*, whom he’s been seeing for nearly two years, is out of town for the weekend. While she’s away, he has options.

There’s the polyamorous woman he hooked up with Wednesday night. She lives two blocks from him in Washington, an easy trudge even in two feet of snow, and is the likeliest candidate to keep him warm over the weekend. Then there’s the other woman he’s dating — but she lives in Arlington. “She and I have been talking about how we want to spend the weekend playing around in the snow, but seeing as how bad it is, she’s going to stay in Arlington,” he said. “I would have loved to spend this awesome weekend with someone who I am much more close to emotionally, than someone I just met.”

Still, he’s bummed, because he likes spending snow days with Kate. “I built my very first snowman with her,” he said.

And having to make this decision is raising even bigger questions for Jack, who has been worrying about his relationship with Kate and “whether or not this is something I even want to be doing — whether I’m seeing these other partners because I have the opportunity to, and not because I want to.”

It’s a less complicated calculus for Sean Blue, 26.

“My house is really old and really cold,” he said. “Staying somewhere that has nice heat would be great.”

But that’s not an option for him. He is seeing a woman, but her sister is visiting for the weekend, so there will be no Netflix and Chill for Blue — just Star Wars, snacks, and his house full of roommates, who are all men.

Even if Blue could have stayed over with her, he’s not sure he would have stayed the whole weekend. Though they’ve known each other for a while, they’ve been dating for only three weeks, and want to give each other their space. 

But he sees how a snowstorm could bring a couple together: “If we were stuck in the tiny studio apartment together for three days, you can try to use that as some kind of building block for the relationship,” Blue said.

That’s what happened for Marlowe Epstein and Corey Newman, a couple featured in The Post’s Weddings column in 2011: “Epstein, who works in communications, invited [Newman] to join some friends at her place as a blizzard was moving toward Washington. After everyone else went home, the two kept talking and the snow continued falling. By early morning Newman realized he was stranded; he wound up snowed in with Epstein and her roommate for four days.” A year and a half later, they were engaged, and married shortly thereafter.

Sometimes, getting stranded is a more deliberate choice. Vicky, now 30, had been dating Taylor, now 37, for six months before the 2010 Snowpocalypse. He lived in Crystal City, and she lived in Petworth, but she wanted to see him despite the transit shutdown. So when the worst of the storm was over, she bundled up — she’s from Buffalo, so she likes wintry weather — and started to walk.

“I didn’t really know where I was going —  I didn’t have a smartphone at that point,” she said. “I ended up walking with a stranger who was doing the same thing, except his girlfriend was in Old Town.”

For the second time during that particularly snowy winter, she camped out in Taylor’s studio apartment in Arlington. And even though it was several days in a small space — a test for any relationship — they enjoyed every minute of each other’s company.

“We just didn’t get sick of each other,” she said.  “I was like, ‘Huh, I don’t think that’s ever happened before,’ spending that much time with one other person and not getting sick of each other. I think that’s rare.”

Thankfully, the greatest distance they’ll have to travel to have a cozy weekend together in this storm is one block. Not to each other — they live together now — but to the Safeway, to pick up snacks.

*Names have been changed. 


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