It’s going to be 70 degrees this week. 70. The heat is coming. And, while thousands of Buffalonians cast limbs towards the heavens, hoping to soak in the precious Vitamin D they’ve been denied for 6 wintery months, I stand in front of my freezer, clinging to the cold and wishing for one more snowfall.
I love the cold.
I was born with red hair and, while my top has faded brown over the years, my skin still proudly displays a complete inability to fight off UV rays. I don’t really get sunburn. I get sun-scorched. I certainly do not tan. The sun attacks the small surface area I leave exposed and, after those burns heal, I get a nice upper mantle of burnt skin. People confuse my neck for a horse saddle.
I don’t trust any sunblock less than 85 SPF. In some cases, to be on the safe side, I’ll use roofing tar. That source of life in the sky you all adore? For me, it’s a migraine machine, complete with laser death rays.
My favorite summertime activity is sitting on a couch, in front of an oscillating fan, trying to feign interest in the show I’m watching on television so I don’t have to muster the energy to click buttons on the remote control. I’m a warm being. I’m too warm. I need freezing temperatures to keep from overheating.
Give me a gray sky any day. I’ll take a biting wind. I’ve got an internal furnace. My wife is a summer lover. She doesn’t produce heat. She steals mine. Our sleeping ritual in the winter is more like incubation. I remain still and crank out BTU’s while heat particles rush to her bloodless limbs. I’m like an Emperor penguin cradling its egg from the elements.
I love the sensation of my arm hair, jumping to attention as the elements attempt to invade. I refuse to pay to park my car so, when I go a Sabres game, I trek from the street spots near the Bus Station. A February journey that would cause a summer lover to recruit Sherpas or cut open a Tauntaun triggers my heart to meet the challenge with thunderous beats. I tuck my head into my shoulders and go.
It’s not that I consider myself tough. I’m not tough. I’m afraid of bees and fists. It’s another reason why I love the winter. The bees have all flown south.
You’ve all heard the expression ‘A Day at the Beach’. My day at the beach is an assortment of sand and sweat. My skin turns to bacon. I can’t even read a book at the beach. It’s too bright. They need to invent beach caves where the pale trolls can lurk and rub aloe on our freckled arms.
I sweat after cold showers. I sweat during cold showers. The Niagara Falls Power Authority should consider tapping into the torrential force of my excretory system. I may single-handedly solve the energy crisis. Air conditioning and swimming pools can only help so much. You still have to walk to and from your car.
Don’t get me wrong. There is such a thing as too much winter. Peeling your windshield wiper away to get at the chunks of ice that cause your wipers to skip over your direct line of sight can get old after the 7th consecutive month. It’s a little inconvenient to always be walking in the direction of a 30 MPH, 3 degree wind. I’m not saying winter is perfect. But I’ll take a little shivering over the exit of all nutrients via my pores.
Of course, I do love mowing my lawn. It’s a weird obsession but, that smell is intoxicating. And you can’t play basketball in the summer. City officials refuse to leave the nets up past October. Outdoor concerts are much better when guitarists can use their fingers. Summer is good for barbeques, baseball games and bocce.
I’m not going to protest summer or begrudge the long-suffering citizens of my favorite city their 90 days of sunshine. I’m happy for you. If my face wasn’t swollen from skin poisoning, you’d see an agreeable smile.
This is your time of year. I’m a ‘bizzaro’ bear in reverse hibernation, shutting down all non-vital systems to conserve energy and make it through the heat marathon. I’ll wait my turn.
That’s the nice thing about living in Buffalo. The cold is always on its way.
Greg Bauch is the author of ‘Frank Dates’ and he’s sweating.