According to soothsayers, mystics, and National Weather Service meteorologists, "March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb." Furthermore, soothsayers, mystics, and National Weather Service meteorologist recommend that everyone (especially ancient Roman politicians with imperial ambitions) "beware the Ides of March."
In short, soothsayers, mystics, and National Weather Service meteorologist are a bunch of wild-eyed lunatics, and their "proclamations" (read: thinly veiled threats) are utter rubbish - the products of demented minds that get a deranged kick out of inventing nonsense words like "ides" and "meteorologist," then bandying them about willy-nilly to scare the public into spending trillions of dollars a year on thermometers.
Nonetheless, these inveterate charlatans were actually on to something when they decided to make March sound threatening and dangerous and capable of destroying your life (and the lives of everyone you hold dear) if you fail to purchase a case of thermometers posthaste. I figured this out firsthand last week, on the bike ride from my apartment to campus.
A little background: I'm a graduate student at a large Midwestern university, and my apartment's less than a mile from the English building. I ride my bike there year round, through blizzards, rainstorms, plagues of locusts - you name the unpleasant natural phenomenon, and I've pedaled into it at top speed, most likely nude and screaming obscenities at the top of my lungs (almost certainly in a lame German accent) while a large crowd looked on. In fact, I'm a bit of a celebrity here - an institution, really. Japan has Godzilla, England has Dermot Mulroney, and the four-block radius around my apartment has me.
But my status as a cultural icon doesn't matter. What matters is that a cold front nosed its way into the region last week and, arriving as it did after several days of temperatures in the 40s and 50s, I reacted to that cold front the same way that Dr. Leo Marvin reacted to Bob Wiley's unexpected arrival at his lakeside cottage in What About Bob? - with a kind of shocked-and-appalled exasperation.
As I rode my bike to campus on the cold snap's first day, the bitter wind brought tears to my eyes and caused the snot to flow from my nostrils like fine wine from an oak cask. In my head, I raved at the inhumanity of it all. This was March 2nd for crying out loud! I shouldn't have been braving a subzero wind chill on March 2! March was a time for wearing silk tunics and blissfully frolicking through flowery meadows! Looking back now, I have to plead temporary insanity.
When I reached the English building - an interminable four minutes after leaving my apartment - I locked my bike up and made it inside just in time to squeeze between the elevator's closing doors. My advisor, Lee, was onboard, too, and, after saying hello, I couldn't resist commenting on the weather.
"It's a nightmare out there," I said, sniffling and wiping snot from my face with the back of my hand. I squinted into the middle distance and lowered my voice a couple of octaves. "A bone-chilling nightmare the likes of which man has never known."
Lee raised his eyebrows. "Come on," he said. "What kind of Saranac Laker complains about the cold?"
I almost choked on my own mucus. Over the past couple of years, I'd regaled Lee with tales of Saranac Lake's legendary deep freezes, and now all my boasting had come back to show me what a pathetic pantywaist I'd turned into during my time in the Midwest.
My cheeks burning with shame, I stammered out a half-coherent response - something about how I was just kidding with all that bone-chilling nightmare stuff, it was just a funny joke, ha-ha - and then we reached Lee's floor and he was gone, leaving me alone with his awful question.
Indeed, I wondered, what kind of Saranac Laker complains about the cold? But when I really thought about it, it only took a couple of seconds to come up with an answer, and that answer instantly allayed my fears. Every kind of Saranac Laker complains about the cold, I thought - in fact, complaining about the cold is one of the ties that binds us together, no matter where we are.
Dan Leonidas makes shallow observations. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or myspace.com/lastminuteconcerns.