Well, you voted for "Snow Day." So here's a Snow Day post. I have no idea what it's about.
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My favorite kind of snow days were always the kind I didn't know about when I went to bed the night before. That goes along with a theory of life I came up with when I was about 11 years old -- you never, ever are more comfortable than when you need to be doing something else. I have since come to realize that this is not a theory but fact, and that I did not come up with the theory anymore than I came up with the miraculous concept of changing my team's sporting luck by shifting into a different watching position.*
*Many years ago, when I was just starting out at The Charlotte Observer, I went to Fayetteville, NC and wrote a story about Putt Putt founder Don Clayton. I was too young to fully appreciate his story, I think, because Clayton was one of those rare people you run into who is half myth, half real. He was kind of the Evel Knievel of miniature golf. He was a self-made millionaire who (if you believed the stories) once lived in a brothel and was once almost shot by his stepfather and once almost had a nervous breakdown when he was trying to sell insurance and so on. I wasn't yet equipped to deal with the many layers of that sort of story. It was like giving a student driver a Formula One car. Don died about 15 years ago.
Anyway, I could only follow the basics: One day after playing miniature golf on some crummy dirt course swarming with bees and lazy windmills that turned half-heartedly, Don decided that he could do way better. And so he created a classier kind of miniature golf, with green mats that were cleaned daily and multi-colored balls (that disappeared on the 18th hole) and no windmill gimmicks. Over time, he added fun centers with video games. Over time, he started promoting Putt Putt with commercials ("Putt Putt for the fun of it!") and with a televised Putt Putt competition which featured putting savants and was announced by Clayton and Billy Packer. Billy was a GREAT Putt-Putt announcer, by the way.
In any case, I bring him up here because of one extraordinary thing he told me that I DID include in the story. He said that wherever he would go around country and around the world -- because he built Putt Putt courses in many other countries -- he would see the same thing again and again. He would see a child, no older than 3, trying to putt the ball into the hole. And after ineffectively smacking the ball around a few dozen times, they would all do the same thing. They would grab the ball, put it right next to the hole, and putt it in. They never put the ball IN the hole. No. They put it right next to the hole and putted it in. When our youngest daughter was three, she played miniature golf, and sure enough she did PRECISELY the same thing.
And I'm sure she thought she had invented it.
My version of the "You are never more comfortable" theory goes like so: You are lying on the couch watching something kind of pointless on TV -- for me it might be a cooking show where the host is making something with artichokes and cabbage, or a home improvement show where the host is tearing down a wall to expand his bathroom. I will never do either of these things, ever. But in that bored stupor, I will start thinking about it. No, I don't like artichokes and cabbage, but maybe if I add leeks the flavor will entirely change. And, hey, maybe I could tear down the wall in the downstairs bathroom and make that thing bigger. There's absolutely no chance of these things happen -- it is literally a zero percent chance, zero, it is more likely that someone will invent a flying pill and I will away fly to China before either of these things happen. Still, I will watch these shows when I have nothing else to do (or nothing else that I particularly want to do).
And in that situation, I am never entirely comfortable. Ever. I want a Diet Coke to drink. The volume's too loud or too quiet. The couch cushions aren't right, or I'm a little bit hot, or the sun is coming through the windows in an annoying way, or it's too dark in the room or SOMETHING.
Now, different situation: I have to shovel the driveway right now. No, really, this is true. Our driveway is an absolute mess, and we have someone flying into town (for reasons I'd rather not get into), and I HAVE to go outside and shovel the driveway, there's no way around it. And I have to tell you that my chair here in my office, which is slightly broken and leans badly to the right and was never especially agreeable in the first place, has suddenly become the most comfortable chair on planet earth. No, I'm completely serious. My wife is shouting from downstairs, the girls are getting dressed so they can "help," and this stupid office chair suddenly feels like the bed they carried Cleopatra around in ... I'm waiting for someone to drop grapes in my mouth.*
*Through the magic of time-lapse blogging, I am writing this Pozterisk AFTER I have shoveled the driveway. In truth, I don't shovel anymore -- that's the wrong verb. I shoveled driveways until I was 43 years old. I believed in shoveling because I grew up in Cleveland, and I have been shoveling driveways since I was 6, and this was one theme that I carried with me, like the Cleve-bonic plague: Real people shovel driveways. Then last year, I had two revelations at about the same time. (1) People seem to have heart attacks while shoveling driveways and (2) Nobody else even understands my shoveling principle, much less admires me for them. So, I got a snow-blower, which inspired a third revelation: (3) What in the hell have I been thinking all these years?
So, I revved up the snowblower and cleaned out the driveway, opened up the paths to the neighbors (imagining all the while that the snowblower was Pac-Man chomping dots ... hey, you clear your driveway your way, and I'll do it mine), and about threw out my back because snow blower or not I'm in terrible shape. Now I'm back in my chair and, as expected, it it not one-one-thousandth as comfortable as it was before I went out there to shovel. In fact, this is the least comfortable chair in the bleepin' house. My back hurts. This stupid chair leans so far to the right I feel like a tourist attraction. I have to finish this stupid post because I put up a poll about it. Nothing feels right at the moment.
Built around this theory -- unexpected snow days were the best ever. I never slept better than I did on a surprise snow day. I'd wake up like one of those kids on Christmas morning in one of those holiday movies, sprightly, full of life, wondering why it was so bright, wondering why nobody had kicked my bed for school. And slowly it would dawn on me: SNOW DAY! And that was the best feeling in the entire world.
When you become an adult, snow days are not nearly as cool as they used to be ... and by this I mean they suck. The roads suck. The other drivers suck. The biting cold sucks. Brushing snow off your car sucks. Waiting for the heat to kick in sucks. Slipping on ice sucks. Going to supermarket sucks. Going to work sucks (and except for a few there ARE no work snow days). The wind blowing snow back on your driveway after you've shoveled sucks. It all kind of sucks.
Except ... this morning, woke up, and even thought it was cloudy outside it was also bright, the kind of glitter only snow provides. It's sort of like turning up the brightness level on your computer only it's that way for the WHOLE WORLD. The snow looks beautiful in the morning, before the footprints, before the plows push slush. Everything feels peaceful. The girls were running around in their pajamas, thrilled beyond belief about the snow day, the youngest looking every bit like Cindy Lou Who. They were so happy -- for them this day is a little bit of a miracle. They were supposed to go to school. And then, God dropped a lot of cold white rain on the world and granted them a day of Polly Pockets, board games and sledding. They look in the refrigerator for carrots in case they get to build a snowman.
And, yeah, I don't ever want to get old enough that I can't help but get caught up in that, at least a little bit. I'm not that far removed from childhood, am I? I watch them, and I remember one of my best friends growing up, his father had a trick knee which would hurt whenever it was about to rain really hard or snow. This was in North Carolina, so snow didn't come often, but the knee never failed to predict rain. I remember one day my friend calling me late and saying: "There won't be any school tomorrow. Dad's knee hurts." I looked outside. It was clear. It didn't seem very cold either. And it was North Carolina, where it didn't snow. I set the alarm clock like always, and I went to bed.
The next morning, I woke up -- my alarm clock had not gone off. It was bright outside. I was going to miss school. I jumped out of bed, started to do the fireman dressing thing, and then I looked outside ... and there was snow everywhere. Everywhere. A miracle. My parents had turned off the alarm clock and let me sleep. The day was so bright I had to cover my eyes. That's how it is outside now ... so bright I have to cover my eyes. But I look at the girls and I remember: Kids don't cover their eyes.