Regulars and Shorts, Slightly Off Center

Slightly Off Center: January 2014

By Dennis Hinkamp

How to cope with winter.
by Dennis Hinkamp

Though it has been Utah winter for several weeks, the holiday fun part is over and the realization that there are at least three more months of this weather is starting to sink in. For me, January is sort of the official opening of the Major League Complaining (MLC) season.

I know that climate change laugh-ologists will use any cold snap to make fun of global warming. I imagine wooly mammoths must have been yucking it up elephant style on a warm afternoon just a few months before they were forever encased in ice. It is as hard to believe that elephants once roamed Utah as it is to believe the state once had a two-term Democratic governor. Both, however, are prehistoric documented facts.

There is plenty of advice on winter survival that includes emergency food storage, heating without burning your house down, whimsical Donner Party recipe books and instructions on how to use guns to borrow food from neighbors. This is all common knowledge passed down from generation to generation and cut and pasted into web pages. What is more difficult to find is treatment for the soul-crushing mind games you have to play to get yourself through the surprise of winter that comes approximately the same time every year.

This is what I have to add to the cannon of winter survival:

1. Complain. Get it out of your system; denial will eat at you. Every time some perky clerk or barista asks you “how’s it going?” Reply that your toes are frostbitten and your eyelids are frozen open. “I’m not staring at you; I physically have no choice.”

2. Make hyperbole a game. You can post this on your Facebook page: “It’s colder than….?” For the most part, cursing is uncreative; encourage imaginative word play. For instance, it’s colder than Pluto during an eclipse; it’s colder than voting down food stamps or it is so cold that anti-freeze went on strike.

3. Read about colder places. The book and movie selections are filled with great stories about people who froze to death trying to reach one of the poles or summits. In honor of their memory, surely you can take your dogs out in the snow without asking them to pull you anywhere.

4. Ski if you must. As an avid non-skier I don’t see the attraction, though I know it’s good for the tax base. I do, however, like the idea of getting above the smog line during the winter months. Maybe I will try one of those new monster truck tire mountain bikes this year. That, or just hang around the ski lodges during happy hour.

5. Visit a library. It is amazing how I miss such a wonderful place when the sun is shining and the streams are flowing. Did you know it is almost all free and one of the best rewards for paying taxes? It is also warm and quiet.

6. Leave. I know this is an extreme last resort but many people don’t seem to understand that it is a possibility if even for a only couple weeks. If this is what it takes to keep you from becoming weaponized crazy, I fully endorse it.

Dennis Hinkamp cannot be found on the slopes anywhere ever.

This article was originally published on December 30, 2013.