February 7, 2011

Hurry, August

After last week, I don’t feel bad at all when I proclaim my disdain for winter. I’d rather be sweating like a nun in Nairobi than being moments away from losing a toe or other digit from exposure to 10 degree weather. I know everyone doesn’t share this same sentiment, but it is the view of several million southerners and myself and on the other end of the matter, I don’t hold ill will against anyone who does in fact enjoy winter or in my opinion, inhumane weather.


My reasons for despising miserably cold winter weather pretty much lie in my comfort or lack there of during the activities I enjoy. I am an outdoorsman. I love to be outside hunting, fishing, camping or whatever else I can do out of doors. But once the dry, cool air comes to North Texas, for me, the countdown is on until I can bid adieu to Old Man Winter. I know, I know, loving hunting and the outdoor lifestyle seems sort of contradictory with me not liking cold weather. Point taken...

The first drafts of winter bring dry weather and my old nemesis, static electricity. I know that sounds trivial, but those small, blue, arcing milli-volts of winter surprise catch me off guard every single year. I’m sure if I had enough hair to stand up, I just know in that instant that I become a human lightning rod, I would resemble a child rubbing a balloon on his head for a few minutes in order to get maximum hair air. And I can only imagine what runs through people’s minds as I go about my day, smacking the the handle of my pickup, giving high-fives to filing cabinets and metal doors and thumping toilet handles to discharge myself. It eventually becomes a built in reaction and I find myself whacking metal objects well into May.

My entire life I have been fortunate or unfortunate, depending on your point of view, to have oily skin. The dermatologist I used to frequent as a teen used to tell me that when I turned 50, I’d be thankful for the oily skin. Well, that was easy for him to say as he looked down on skin that more closely resembled a supreme pizza than the clear, blemish free skin I live in today. I wasn’t sure until the last few years why he said I’d be happy with oily skin as a kid. Well, I have turned fifty and it seems oily skin has the unique ability to help keep wrinkles at bay, so yes, I’m thankful. But the point of talking about my skin is what happens to it during the winter. At the first hint of cooler weather, my skin turns into cheap, 100 grit sandpaper. Not only is it rough and dry, it also brings along its cousin, Unending Itch.

Every year from mid December until early March, I frequently resemble Chief Jumpnscratch, Tribal Medicine Man, as I jerk and sway around the house, trying to get to that one spot in the middle of my back that I can’t reach. During the itchy season anything, and I do mean anything, becomes a back scratcher. It could be a door, bed posts, sharp cabinet edges, straightened wire hangers, a hair brush, irons or anything else in reach that will quell the itch. I promise you I ain’t proud and I figure I can always take a shower after I get relief so I grab what's closest. I suppose God feels bad for me and has been "watching my back", because luckily, there has never been a butcher knife within reach during one of my “itch fits”.

The middle of the night is the worst time though. I toss and turn, scratch, moan and get up saying words I shouldn’t and then usually end up using the edge of the bathroom door in order to get some relief. Doors are great, because they have hinges and I can back up to the door and reach behind and swing the door to and fro and lean that portion of my body that’s making me crazy into the swinging door.

Static electricity and dry skin are two instances that have me praying out loud for the first signs of summer. But there is one thing that is worse. In the winter I dread having to visit the john. I make sure I watch the weather and try to time my nature calls in accordance with the warmer days. My wife and I sit each morning drinking coffee and watching the news and weather because that’s the only time we both get to be together, alone, enjoying the quiet. As we watch the weather, I’m making mental notes of the upcoming warm spells. “Hmmm, it’s gonna be 31 tonight, don’t guess I can schedule it then. But, it’s gonna be in the low 60’s tomorrow, so yep, tomorrow at 3:00 p.m. the day will be its warmest. Appointment made”.

You know you’ve all done this. You wake up in the middle of the night, half asleep and the call from Mother Nature comes in and uhhhm, guess what, there’s no compromise, you have to accept the call, period. Getting up frequently at night isn’t an issue with me since I have an overactive, fifty two year old prostate with a sense of humor that enjoys prodding my bladder over and over during the night. My problem lies with the visit in the middle of the night, during those long winter nights in the low 20’s, that requires me to sit.

I psyche myself up and try to be ready for the initial shock as I head toward the throne. But no matter what I do, I can never be fully prepared for the initial jolt of the icy reception. The sudden change in temperature below the equator causes my lungs to reflex wildly and suck everything above them down a full inch…trachea, saliva, nasal contents, you name it, they make a hasty retreat south. Any hope for activity at that point is temporarily put on hold as the muscles required to perform such activity are suddenly atrophied from the frigid toilet seat. And soon the cold creeps up to the top of my waist and down in to the back of my legs, so guess what, fifteen minutes gets added to the job while I wait for the thaw. Eventually the paralysis subsides and I can finally feel my legs enough to stand up and make my way back to the bed and the warm covers.

As I’m lying there, shivering and trying to find that one little spot that will bring the heat, that naughty little guy that sits on one shoulder thinks it would probably be pretty funny to place my frozen toes in the middle of my wifes bare legs. It has always amazed me at how painful the reactive kick from a 5’ 1”, 106 pound tiger can be as it lands in the meatiest part of my calf. Guess I deserved that one.

Happy winter season everyone, but hurry August!!!


The Impulsive Texan