February 8, 2002
People who engage in so-called extreme sports claim they do so because it makes them feel alive, it gives them that adrenaline rush that they can only get from cheating death, and for them the only way to cheat death is to do things like climbing cliffs with bare-handed, then diving head-first from the top of the cliff with only a thin elastic cord to stop them from hitting the ground a second time. However, I know of at least one activity that gives the same adrenaline rush, as well as the same level of danger, as most extreme sports: shopping for groceries in any Southern town when there’s a mere warning of snow. (Forget shopping if snow is already falling, because by that time the shelves will have been cleared of everything. You’ll be lucky to find a can of expired creamed radishes.) I know what you’re thinking: this is picking on a stereotype of people who live in the Southern United States. However, Frank Zappa once said that there’s a bit of truth in all satire and stereotypes, and a man who named his children Moon Unit and Dweezil knows whereof he speaks. As with any extreme sport, however, shopping when there’s a snow warning out does have rules. Here are just a few:
Go with the flow. If you try to go against the oncoming traffic of wild-eyed people with overloaded shopping carts, you’re going to get crushed. If you need a break, park behind the bag boy in the magazine aisle who’s staring slack-jawed at pictures of women in dental floss bikinis. (Bag boys in grocery stores are a lot like Baptists in Heaven: they think they’re the only ones there.) If you want to keep moving but can’t keep up with the pace, get behind the 98-year old woman who pushes her shopping cart at the same speed she drives her car. Beware, though: you’re likely to get stuck in the oat bran section.
Grab all the bread, eggs, milk, and toilet paper you can get your hands on. If you’re lactose intolerant, grab non-dairy creamer. And don’t say you’re watching your cholesterol. The store stocks of these four items will be so severely depleted it’ll be weeks before you’ll be able to buy eggs again.
When checking out, get in the longest line you can find. Trust me on this one. Even at the best of times the lines on either side of you are going to move faster than the line you’re in. You might as well just get in the longest line and deal with it. Besides, you’ll need the time to decompress. While you’re waiting you’ll actually have time to read those little books about how to talk to your cat, why Elvis and the Loch Ness monster are connected, and how some D-List celebrity you’ve never heard of was caught in a "love triangle" and why this has caused her weight or his personality to spiral out of control.
Get everything you need the first time around. There’s no going back. If you don’t get it the first time around, you’d better do without it. And if you drink beer, make sure it’s one of the first things you get. Although this is the South where no one drinks alcohol, people are going to want something to help them deal with being trapped in their homes for the next twenty-four hours. Besides, if you don’t get beer early, the last one will end up in the hands of the bag boy in the magazine aisle.
Enjoy this week’s offerings.
[Note: the following information was forwarded to me by my wife. I couldn’t think of anything to add to it, so I thought I’d share it with the rest of you for your edification. I’m also celebrating the fact that, for the first time this winter, we’ve actually seen snow.]
For those of you who have always wanted to know how much snow would have fallen if the rain had turned to snow, I have the answer for you:
WHAT IS THE RATIO BETWEEN RAIN AND SNOW, IN TERMS OF HOW MUCH AN INCH OF RAIN EQUATES TO INCHES OF SNOW?
It is popularly believed that a 10-to-1 ratio prevails between snowfall and water content. But the water content of snow is more variable than this, making the 10-to-1 ratio inaccurate, as it depends on temperature and wind speed. One inch of water yields about 10 inches of snow in light winds whn temperatures are 28 to 34 degrees. One inch of water yields about 15 inches of snow at 20 to 27 degrees, and when temperatures are in the teens, 20 to 30 inches.
An elderly couple was driving across the country. While the woman was behind the wheel, the couple was pulled over by the highway patrol.
"Ma’am, did you know you were speeding?" the officer said.
The woman, hard of hearing, turned to her husband and asked, "What did he say?"
"He said you were speeding!" the old man yelled.
The patrolman then asked, "May I see your license?"
The woman turned to her husband again, "What did he say?"
The old man yelled back, "He wants to see your license!"
The woman then gave the officer her license.
"I see you are from Arkansas," the patrolman said. "I spent some time there once and went on a blind date with the ugliest woman I’ve ever seen."
The woman turned to her husband again and asked, "What did he say?"
The old man replied, "He said he knows you!