Issue # 44
March 5, 2001
By Rich Wilhelm

I was going to a write a column other than this one this week, but I got distracted by the weather, or should I say, the WEATHER!!!?

It all started this past Friday night. Donna returned from a trip to a shoe store and related the following bit of conversation she overheard. The saleswoman said something about how much she likes snow. The customer replied by saying, "Yeah, but 16 inches???" This reminded us both that we'd heard vague notions about some kind of snowstorm, so maybe we ought to watch the news.

One thing you should know about me at this point is that I often tune out any conversation about weather, traffic and food. To me, these three topics form the trifecta of "polite elevator talk" and, even when I'm the one making the conversation, I tend to be thinking about something else. For example, I may be saying, "That Big Mac I ate last night was really tasty," but I'm thinking, "whatever happened to those pictures I took during my eighth grade class trip to New York, when the photo shop lost them." So, while I probably had heard something about a snowstorm that was headed for town, I didn't pay any attention.

However, we were intrigued by the shoe store talk, so a little before 11:00 on Friday night we tuned into our local TV news. We made sure to pick the news program where the weather is ALWAYS the big story, where no hyperbolic statement is too ridiculous to describe the approach of WEATHER!!!. This is the station where, a few years ago, the weather team experimented with the concept of naming snowstorms alphabetically, the way hurricanes are named. I don't think the weather team got to "Snowstorm Conrad" before even they realized that naming snowstorms was just too silly.

Between 10:55 and 11:00, we see three teasers about the upcoming weather report. When the news finally starts, the first 15 minutes of the show are spent on WEATHER!!!. The weather team couldn't tell us much since the computers were down. But this much they knew: there was a storm down south, somewhere in Alabama. And sometime on Sunday afternoon or Sunday night or Monday morning or Monday afternoon or Monday night that storm was going to bring us WEATHER!!! and lots of it. The prediction (without the invaluable computer models) was that we'd get anywhere from 12 to 73 inches of serious WEATHER!!!. After 15 minutes of interviews with road crew members standing in front of mountains of rock salt and milk'n'bread shoppers standing in front of supermarkets, the news program cut to a commercial. After the commercials the news returned and went directly to the regular weather report, in which viewers were warned that WEATHER!!! was coming.

Of course, we were concerned. I considered a late night trip to our all-night supermarket for milk'n'bread, but I wound up just going to sleep instead. However, at 8:00 the next morning, I headed to the market for provisions. Fortunately, milk'n'bread were still plentiful at that point. I did have to stand in line for 20 minutes to buy lunchmeat, but I was so thankful to have the milk'n'bread in my shopping cart that the wait didn't seem all that bad.

We ignored the weather reports for the rest of the day on Saturday, choosing instead to hang out with Jimmy. He and I visited his friend Ryan and Ryan's dad in the afternoon, and that evening, Donna and I went to see a play in Philadelphia, all the while not even thinking about the WEATHER!!!.

When Sunday dawned gray and dismal, we knew it was time to ditch our devil-may-care attitude about WEATHER!!!.

As I attended Sunday morning Mass (all the while, praying fervantly for a change in the weather, I can assure you...), the WEATHER!!! began. Or so we thought. It snowed for awhile. As the morning wore on, the snow turned into rain. And then it turned back into snow. This was weather, but not WEATHER!!!.

Sunday afternoon became a waiting game for us. As each of us took an afternoon nap (Jimmy in his bed, Donna on the living room couch and me on the family room couch), I'm sure we all dreamed of the WEATHER!!! that was about to be visited upon us. However, after a day of waiting and watching, we only had an inch or so of wet snow and we were beginning to wonder where the WEATHER!!! was.

So we woke up this morning, looked out the window and discovered...that things had not changed much from last night. I did have to shovel a little bit, and knock some snow off the car, but the WEATHER!!! had not yet come. Our dreams of sitting at home all day drinking hot chocolate and watching The View and The Price Is Right were now dashed, so we sadly prepared for work.

The ride to work was uneventful. We dropped Jimmy off at daycare and drove to work without any real slushy, icey, snowy, traffic-y problems to stop us. When I got to work, I noticed that a number of people had stayed home, but I basically just got down to the business of editing.

Now, remember, even though not much WEATHER!!! had happened yet, there was still a chance that it would. WEATHER!!! was all anyone wanted to talk about, and when it started to snow just before lunchtime, well, let me tell you, chaos erupted!

Snow started falling heavily at that time, conjuring up memories of two recent Mondays when afternoon snowstorms so thoroughly snarled up the local roadways that it took people who live 15 minutes from work over five hours to get home. Few people wanted to take those chances so, once the WEATHER!!! seemed to begin, the exodus from work began. I left around noon to pick Donna up.

Of course, I began to notice as I drove over to Donna's office that the WEATHER!!! I was driving through was a rapidly diminishing snow squall. I was beginning to think this was just plain old unitalicized weather, but I wasn't taking any chances. I picked Donna up and headed to daycare, where we woke Jimmy from his nap to bring him home.

So, what about the WEATHER!!!, you ask? Well, the WEATHER!!! just never lived up to the hype. I think it went up to New England or somewhere else instead of socking it to us. Whatever.

In retrospect, I temporarily felt lame for taking this afternoon as vacation time, but not anymore. After all, we were able to take Jimmy out in the snow, and I got the little bit of shoveling I had to do done early. I had a chance to sprawl out on the family room floor and listen to Merle Haggard's If Only I Could Fly album while Jimmy jumped all over me, and that's not something I can do most Monday afternoons. The time was not wasted, and I'll get to that other story I want to write sometime this week.

I must go for now though. The 11:00 news is coming on in a few minutes and I need to catch the weather report. I heard a rumor that this coming Friday our region is going to get pounded with WEATHER!!!. If you live around here, better stock up on some more milk'n'bread!

(Please feel free to email to others who may be interested or to print a hard copy for them but remember: The Dichotomy of the Dog is copyright 2001 by Rich Wilhelm. If you plan on making a bazillion dollars from this piece of writing, please let me know so I can sue you or something.)