As I write this, I am hoping with every fiber of my being that my back doesn’t suddenly seize up. Not because writing the letter from the editor is such an onerous, spine-twisting task. No, the reason is that I’ve already shoveled two driveways today—and for someone whose idea of intense exercise is a round of golf and a nice hot bath, two driveways in one day is more than enough.
It is early February, mere days before this issue goes to press, and as you may have guessed, it has snowed. In most parts of the country that experience all four seasons, snow is treated as something less than an extraordinary event. Snow happens and people just deal with it. If you live in one of those parts of the country, I envy you. Because here in Cincinnati, snow doesn’t just happen. It invades. Or at least that’s how its arrival is treated on local newscasts and in the paper—like an alien force descending from on high. Most of the populace reacts accordingly. And so begins our annual ritual of weather-induced panic.
Now, I may only be 42, but one is never too young to come off sounding like an ancient windbag looking back wistfully at the snows of yesteryear. No kidding: I remember the snows of my youth being much deeper, the winters much colder, and the citizenry much hardier. Granted, I was shorter, less insulated, and more impressionable back then. But consider the frigid winter of 1976-77: It snowed so much and the mercury dropped so low for so long that the Ohio River froze, enabling a number of crazy people to walk across to Kentucky. That was a bad winter. But three to six inches of white stuff and temperatures hovering in the low 30s? Come on, people! Get a grip.
Of course, the 21st century Cincinnatian’s predilection for poor driving, rampant Krogering, and a general feeling of giddy woe at the merest hint of frozen precipitation makes fine fodder for satire. One example appeared in my e-mail in-box just as the latest winter storm was about to hit. It came from Deli Seven20, the stellar lunch spot down on Pete Rose Way, and was written by a guy named Justin, who likes to salt the daily sandwich alert with wry commentary. His February 5 dispatch did not disappoint. It read, in part: “Beware! The end is near, peoples. Snow like we’ve never seen (and honestly probably won’t see at all) is heading our way (maybe). My advice? Leave work right now and go straight to the grocery and buy as much Slim Jim as you can squeeze into your cart. Even if you’re vegetarian….” The special sandwich that day was dubbed “The White Out Returns.”
This month in The Last Detail, Bob Woodiwiss, a keen observer of the ways and means of Cincinnati, presents his own take on the city’s fear and loathing of snow. In fact, he’s come up with a label for this acute mental condition: “Snowpocalypse Now.” Whether you suffer from it, or just suffer because other people do, you will recognize it. And, hopefully, laugh.