It’s the coldest week of winter we’ve had in a while. So cold that it’s been the lead story on the news for a week straight. So cold that everyone who got stuck on the BART train that filled up with smoke had to see that their story was placed after the countless man on the street interviews where Joe Average moaned about it being cold, and Bob the last farmer in the silicon valley had to talk about covering his plants so it wouldn’t freeze.
I am getting over a cold and I probably risked pneumonia walking around my neighborhood trying to find the mostly outdoor neighborhood cat who I adopted. She doesn’t like being inside once her bowl is empty and she really doesn’t like my other cat who is an indoor loving cuddle fiend.
I like weather like this, because I can finally wear my winter stuff and not look like a fool. I can wear a scarf and maybe a cute hat and pretend that I actually live somewhere snowy and romantic. For a few days every winter I let myself believe my childhood dream of snow coming to me might come true. Real snow, not trucked in snow or a snowflake that lands on your car in the rain and melts 2 seconds later. The kind of snow where there is sledding and making snowmen and snowball fights and snow angels and hot cocoa and ice skating on a lake and riding around on a horse drawn sleigh that just magically appears and doesn’t have an admission of 52 bucks and line of 35,000 people in front of you. There will always be a part of me that believes in all the stuff countless childhood Christmas specials sold me that never came true. Every time it gets this bone chillingly cold I believe that this might be the year the mythical white Christmas finally happens.
The closest I’ve ever come to a white Christmas is stopping in a pit stop of a town called Fraser Park just off highway 5 in the Grapevine on the way to LA. My brother and I played in the snow beneath a giant sign that said EAT for as long as we could, but it wasn’t long enough. Soon we had to get back on the road to Los Angeles where all the white Christmases are made of potato flakes on movie back lots.
So why was I running my car ac on the coldest day of winter? Because I made a silly decision to shop. After all it is the season of shopping and it’s so darn frosty out I might need more cute scarves, and hats and mittens, and sweaters, and maybe some earmuffs, or maybe even a new coat. I didn’t have time for the mall so I shopped at a store whose name rhymes with moles. I was wearing a jacket and a scarf, not my winter coat. I decided to look at coats inside, and scarves, and hats and gloves and all the other winter stuff I usually ignore until it’s marked down to $1.95.
Then I stepped inside. It was 85 degrees, or maybe 90. Suddenly all my dreams of cute sweaters and cozy jackets vanished. Who would want to try on more clothes in this tropical climate? I wandered through the jacket aisles but none were on clearance. I glanced at some sweaters but they looked like they needed to be tried on. No thank you. The only thing I bought were bras. Bras and tanktops were the only items that held any appeal, given the temp in the dressing room.
Once I finished shopping and got my car I just wanted to cool off as quickly as possible. So I found myself using the AC on the coldest day of the year.
Why do stores always crank up the heat in winter? Is there one master climate control for every store located in Duluth Minnesota? Don’t they know that when it’s cold out we are going to already be wearing stuff to keep us warm and it’s a pain in the butt to walk around a department store carrying a heavy winter jacket, while all the employees are giving you the stink eye because they think it’s merchandise you are going to walk out the front door with?
Maybe stores like JC Penny, and Sears and all those others pundits keep predicting the demise of will learn they can save millions if they just turn down the damn heat. Plus they might actually sell a jacket every now and then. At full price even.