Thursday, December 24, 2009

Permanent Wedgie: Life Between the Cracks

A Christmas Story for You

Wow! It's cold out today. Thirty degrees, I think.

I don't go out in it any more, but because of my up-bringing in the north woods of Minnesota, I just know that if I donned a pair of boots and walked outside and down the sidewalk, every step would cause the snow to squeak. That is how we Minnesotans measure the cold. Not in namby-pamby temperatures but, rather, by sound. If it doesn't squeak then it isn't cold enough for a hat or mittens. However, if it does squeak you should probably wear a hat and keep mittens close by at all times.

Not wearing mittens but keeping them accessible is accomplished with special clips attached to long measures of strong yarn that are strung through your jacket and down each sleeve. A mitten is then clipped in place and permanently dangles from the end of the sleeve, near your wrist, where it stretches out as it gathers snow and freezes into a firm and irritating appendage. They really have one purpose and one purpose only: To serve as an ice pack to your broken nose after the four children who, when you started down Mount Death on the old and forgotten ski slope, were evenly placed and spaced behind you on the re-furbished toboggan ( the one Dad found at the dump three weeks earlier ) but, who end up line-driving you into that beautifully curled yet somewhat jagged front end of the narrow and newly waxed ( really Dad, was that necessary? ) sleigh to hell. Yep, that's when these frozen, multi-colored, snow sacks on strings finally come in handy. And you always need two, so don't try to skimp and just clip on one at the beginning of your day.

When that nose starts to bleed, the first frozen mitt applied tends to melt rather quickly BUT it is at this point it will absorb most of the blood flow keeping it from pooling and freezing in the surrounding snow, reducing the horror and lessening the screams of the four children behind you who have come away unscathed because you took the blow for the whole freakin' lot of them. The stark sight of blood in snow can cause a life time of issues, and this is where the second mitten comes in. Once the first mitten has reached blood capacity, it is easy to switch to the second mitten dangling just below your other wrist, where it has served to cause a bit of frost bite, but I digress.

Dad merely un-clips the first blood soaked mitt and tosses it into the bushes that unceremoniously stopped you in the first place and to which none of the five adults with you thought you could even get. Otherwise, I am certain, they never would have launched you off the cliff with such vigor. Of course, none of the five fathers realized how much the waxing would add to the over all ease with which the projectile would skim over the icy surface as they all put their backs into blast off. But, I digress, again.

After having tossed the first mitten away and out of sight of the other four, now merely blubbering, bombardiers, Dad unclips the second frozen block of tightly knit yarn from your frost bitten wrist and as you lay limply in his lap and he gently applies the wooly, scratchy ice pack to your swollen nose he looks up at the four other children and their dads and says with swelling pride….”I knew that damn toboggan still had some life in her!” And though it hurts to do so, you laugh so hard you nearly cry. Miraculously, you are ready to try again.

And that’s life, really…..between the cracks. To me, that’s a Christmas story! I hope you can find your own message hidden in there somewhere! I pray you do, anyway. Merry Christmas!

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