Snow used to be fun. And then someone started naming storms.
A long time ago, falling snow was the stuff of Bing Crosby songs and picturesque scenes worthy of the family Christmas card. Snowflakes formed in a billion different symmetrical shapes and later recreated in first-grade art classes and then saved by mothers in perpetuity.
Somewhere along the way, however, snow got a bad name. Snowfall became a winter storm and then the Weather Channel named it Titan, Cleon and Dion. Simultaneously, the talking heads announce “thousands of flights canceled” with recycled photos of passengers curled up on the commercial grade carpet. All events, everywhere, at all places get canceled, starting with Bible study classes in obscure schools with a two-student enrollment.
Snow prompts four other things:
• People rush to Price Chopper and strip the shelves.
• Regular programming is canceled.
• News stories about salt inventories go viral.
• The declaration is repeated over and over again: Don’t drive on the streets.
So maybe I’m different because none of this matters to me. I maintain my routine and, as far as I can tell, am still alive to talk about it. One of the biggest offenses I commit is this: I don’t drive a Monster Truck or even a SUV. I drive an import, and a bankrupt one at that — a Saab. And the one I’m commandeering just passed 100,000 miles. On snow-covered streets, it’s the equivalent of walking in the Apple store carrying a Dell.
This car has other failings. One of my sons affixed to the back a bumper sticker that says “Radiohead” — a message to uptight snow-phobes that the driver is either an irresponsible teen, or worse, the parent of one. Also, you don’t need a ladder to climb inside, which means I get to see the mufflers of all the other cars at the stoplights. Spoiler alert: They are big.
There is more. It sports a broken rearview mirror, with a back seat that doubles as an episode of “Storage Wars.” This combination of features prompts the SUV brigade to switch lanes, speed up, slow down — whatever is necessary to avoid my car.
But nothing prompts fibrillation more than this: standing snow on the car. Like a tophat about to blow into the Suburban behind me. A car that doesn’t have the luxury of a four-car garage should never be on the street during Cleon, they are thinking. Something parked outside conjures up disturbing notions that I might live in an apartment complex, subsidized housing or worse — in a college dorm.
Their minds are spinning — careless, reckless, loser with no car insurance. Even those panhandlers who hold cardboard signs take a smoke break when I pull up.
So sue me. I love that car. Sure, it’s adept at fish tails, slipping and sliding with tires as smooth as a baby’s bald head, but it has one feature purse lady’s gas hog doesn’t — it was paid off when “Jaws” debuted. And if I spill something, which happens often because the cupholder is broken — the coffee disappears in the floor. No worries.
Does it present some challenges? Yes, like when I drive on Southwest Trafficway, you need lots of momentum to make it up hills. Turns can be a challenge, so I rarely switch lanes. I leave that to the lady who rides with the Shih Tzu while she texts and drives.
So if you see a blue Saab spitting off sheets of snow barreling down Ward Parkway, resistance is futile. Best to pull off and let me pass. But don’t worry about spotting me and my four-door buddy at night. That’s the only time we’re grounded. It’s missing a headlight.