On Hoth, no one can hear your shame.

January 6th, 2014, 7pm

Every time the news media mentioned this mass of frozen bile called the Polar Vortex (and this has been a lot, lately), I immediately thought of old Lovecraft stories. All those clutching, frozen fingers of long-dead and forgotten gods, spiraling outward to feed on our fear and our spirit, drain us of warmth, and take our sanity back into whatever empty beyond they gibber endlessly into.

I’m in the South. Seeing a single-digit temperature on my car dash is enough to have me suspecting eldritch horrors at work, so that’s where my mind returns. I’m used to riding my bike in short sleeves at least twice a week in our schizophrenic winters in SC. All this business of having to dress my dog in his least-favorite clothes just to have him take a dump without it freezing to his leg is borderline insanity, and I’d like to complain to management.

Another unfortunate side-effect of brutally cold and sustained weather in the South is everyone wanting to talk about it. Incessantly. They’re as fascinated by cold weather as a cat eye-fucking a ping-pong match. Not a moment goes by that someone isn’t pointing out that yes, as a matter of fact, it is still cold outside. Literally 100% of everyone I’ve talked to in a professional or personal capacity over the past 3 days has opened with some form of “Cold, huh?” as a way to try and wedge into the dreaded Southern Small-Talk Barrage.

Oh, not familiar with that one? Let me give you a warning, then.

It usually starts with the weather or your garden, then about how your mom is, then what gas prices are like, and then somehow you’re talking about your gross income last year and how much you stole on your taxes.

There’s an art to it; if done correctly, they only realize that they’re incriminating themselves as the words come out of their mouths. A stunned, downward glance at those little treacherous slices of flesh, the victim wondering what they ever did to warrant this kind of insubordination from something usually so compliant.

It’s a form of magic in itself, and almost as insidious as the whispers of the dying elder gods. Instead of your sanity, though, you tend to lose standing with the HOA board.

I’m trying to avoid both of those (and my dog’s judgmental glare) by staying inside. I can only stiff-arm questions about what I’m planting for the spring for so long before I’m talking about what I was really doing in 1999 outside of that gas station.

Lia, David Wade and Emanuel said thanks.

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Allan Lazenby

Wrencher of bicycles, petter of dogs. Active cyclist and a cycling activist. I unabashedly put the worst of me into words.

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