It’s freezing in the Northeast this week. Specifically, it’s freezing here in the city. Seeing as how it’s January, not a surprise, but that doesn’t make it any more pleasant. This is the time of year when Mrs Fringe wakes up and says a prayer of thanks to the inventor of long underwear, quickly followed by a daydream about Bora Bora.
Layer up, take the dogs for a walk, come back home and work intricate algebraic equations trying to determine how many layers it makes sense to remove when I have to go back out to take Flower Child to school in 30 minutes.
Shouldn’t be too much of a problem, right? Put on 50 layers and stop whining. Come on over to my apartment, sit down, I’ll make you a cup of coffee and you’ll defrost in no time. In fact, you’ll defrost so quickly your fingers and toes will experience a lovely burning tingle before you register you aren’t numb anymore. Then your nose will plug and buzz from the dry heat being pumped up at outrageous levels through the radiators. You’ll start to shift uncomfortably on the couch, as beads of sweat pop up, try to roll freely down your lumps and bumps, but instead get trapped by the aforementioned long underwear. We’ll engage in some witty repartee.
You’ll say, “Holy shit! It’s hot in here.”
I’ll agree, try to explain that these tall buildings send a tremendous amount of heat in the winter in order for the heat to reach the top floors; and to make life bearable for the senior citizens who live on those top floors, with their thin skin, all alone in their four bedroom apartments. “Would you like me to open the terrace door a little wider for some fresh air?”
Three minutes will pass, you’ll be on the couch doing what looks like the pee dance once more, look miserably at the open terrace door when the sweat under your bra line freezes the wire to your skin, and wonder if it would be unreasonable to ask me to close it a little.
Two more minutes will pass, you’ll mumble something, unable to think of and verbalize a coherent excuse in your stupor, then you’ll stumble out the door.
I will do what looks like a happy dance when the door closes, but is actually a contortionist act, removing several layers. Cooler, and gives me access to scratch, scratch, scratch at my skin, the dryness from the indoor heat leaves me itching like a 3 year old with chicken pox. I decide it’s just as reasonable to scratch off the top 8 layers of skin as it is to take off the top 8 layers of cold weather gear.
Oh yeah, now I’m feeling comfortable. I make a cup of tea, dance around in my long johns because it’s silly, and then have a productive hour or two where I write. Time to layer up and walk the dogs again. The cold air in the lobby feels great by the time I get off the elevator. Sadly, standing outside in 11 degree temps while the dogs sniff around, not so great. Bring the dogs back up, take off layers, half an hour or so to putter, or clean, make a shopping list or call in med refills. Put layers on, go to the grocery store. Come home, top few layers off, put groceries away.
Layers on, walk to the school to pick up Flower Child. Grateful for the fur hat I got from my mother. Yes, yes, fur is bad, it isn’t politically correct, but it is warm. Arrive at school, wonder if my fingers are in fact frostbitten. Get the girl, walk to the train station, look enviously at the lady hailing a cab in a full length mink. Go down the steps, wait for train on the 500 degree platform. Get home to the 87 degree apartment, rip off layers from myself and the girl. Make her hot chocolate and assess if her temperature is coming back up to her normal range within a reasonable time frame. Do what needs to be done, homework, dinner prep, etc.
Oh look, it’s time to walk another dog. Layers back on, trek to pick up the dog, walk along the edge of the park. I eye the dog, and ponder how I would look in a mutt coat. Is there enough for a hood? This hat isn’t a really good fur, and doesn’t sit too snug, so the frigid air is wrapping an ace bandage of dried sweat from the overly hot apartment around my head. Time to walk home. By now my brain is frozen, and I’m hallucinating a polar bear. You know the sweet, sad one from the Central Park Zoo, lives on Prozac? I’m ready to disembowel said polar bear with the daggers that are my icicle fingers, and drape myself head to toe with the still steaming skin.
Go home, do the evening thing, alternate sweating with standing shivering on the terrace, unwilling to strip down to the long johns yet, because I still have to walk my dogs for the night. Dog poop is super easy to pick up when it comes out already frozen.