The Rear End

So Very Cold: You may have noticed that wintertime is now

Mike Paulus, illustrated by Beth Czech |

It was 19 degrees this morning, so I opted to put on a thick flannel shirt instead of a coat. “A coat?” I thought. “Let’s not go crazy here. I mean, it’s only going to get warmer as the day goes on, right?” So I left my coat hanging there by the door, next to my hat, since it was practically 20 degrees outside.

This was not the case just a few days ago. No, a few days before I find myself typing this (on my triple lacquered, mahogany trimmed, pewter plated keyboard), we were waking up to mornings filled with air at 19 degrees below zero.

I’m not sure how cold things got after you factor in windchill, but by my own calculations, these were the coldest winter temperatures in the history of all humanity.

I’m not sure how cold things got after you factor in windchill, but by my own calculations, these were the coldest winter temperatures in the history of all humanity. It’s a fact you don’t need to look up. Even the hardy, outdoorsy people in my life began complaining about the coldness. In the face of butt-numbingly frigid weather, these resilient individuals are the people I usually look to for inspiration. They keep me going. But this winter, they failed me. And I may have grumbled a tad.

I’m not one to complain, but my normally awesome hair got totally frizzy and unresponsive to my standard styling regime. Why? The cold. And that’s just the tip of the ill-affected iceberg.

My fingertips and knuckle-skins are still healing from the deep freeze dry out. The index finger on my right hand, the one I use to point at things, developed a nasty split, starting at the nail, curving over the top of the finger, extending down the other side to my palm and all the way to my elbow (pretty much). Tapping the Facebook icon on my phone HURTS. Because of the cold.

The modest amount forest of hair in my nostrils seemed to freeze solid every single time I stepped outside, causing me to snortle like I had a big wad of snot stuck in the back of my throat. Also, I developed a big wad of snot stuck in the back of my throat. Why? This damn weather.

When it gets ultra-cold like this, I can’t put on a T-shirt without it crackling and sparking with electricity. If the static-charged bolts don’t electrocute me on contact, and I actually get the shirt on, it clings uncomfortably to my chest like a soul-sucking cling monster. Why must I deal with this? It’s that big dumb jerk The Cold.

My joints ached. My joints ached. I was constantly grunting when I had to, like, walk or open a car door. I sounded like an 80-year-old man (and not the cool kind who goes hiking and parasailing and takes cooking classes). Why does this happening to me? Is it my exceedingly sedentary lifestyle coupled with poor seating options and a total lack of motivation to exercise? Naw. I’m gonna have to go with all this mother-kickin’ cold weather.

Trying to make the best of it, I decided to show my kids that amazing science experiment people in Northern Canada do where they lean out their patio door and throw boiling hot water into the air to watch as it instantly turns into a cloud of glorious ice crystals. I boiled the water and opened the patio door, but when I leaned out and threw it, my arm froze as solid as an iron rod. It broke clean off my shoulder and went sailing across the yard and crashed through my neighbor’s bathroom window. So I just shut the door and moved on.

This was a cold that penetrated my normal, winter-lovin’ life. Usually, I look down on Wisconsinites who complain about snow and chilly weather. I wonder why they live here (if not to have an ever-ready subject about which to blubber and moan). Well, this was different.

When my car wouldn’t start, I took it to the mechanic and he replaced the engine with a team of sled dogs and a walrus-skin jumpsuit. IT WAS COLD IS WHAT I’M SAYING.

But really, I’m not one to complain.