It’s been a while since we had one of these ice storms, so I guess we’re due. The weather map is all over pink with it right now I can hear it falling on the metal chimney top. Not like hail at all, which always sounds like a great fist is hurling it. Sleet is skittery and indifferent.
School is already closed for tomorrow because that’s how we do things. The closing was announced long before the first drop fell and while the temperature was certainly above freezing. It was a good call this time. No one needs to be driving around in the Armageddon we’ll have tomorrow morning, especially since no one around here knows how to drive in winter weather. We’re generally experts at driving muddy dirt roads, though. We also think we’re experts at driving on ice, but it’s never true.
In college, we used to put on golf shoes and walk to the corner of Donaghey and Bruce, lugging green-and-white folding lawn chairs. We found that if we positioned ourselves carefully, we could see two, maybe three fender-benders an hour as we nipped judiciously at a shared bottle of peppermint schnapps. Occasionally we’d hold up signs to “score” each driver’s attempt or failure. If I remember correctly, it took a good 360-degree spin to earn anything higher than an “8”.
No one was ever hurt, by the way. Cars had real metal fenders back then and didn’t crush like cheap Coke cans.
But that’s not my favorite winter-weather story. The best one I heard second-hand at a year-end teacher party some years ago when I was still teaching high school English. Many of the schoolmarms I taught with had been my teachers back in the 70s, and they told a Snow-Day Cautionary Tale to end all tales.
No one remembered exactly what year it happened, but seems the weathermen were all convinced the entire state would be buried under 12-18 inches of snow by the next morning. it had been an especially tense and arduous school year, so a good number of teachers plotted to ride the snow storm out at one house – the plan was a dusk to dawn Snow Day celebration.
At the final bell, everyone scurried to gather food and liquor. These were the lean years, mind you, when a good teacher might have made $9,000 a year or so. Add that to the insult of living in a dry county, and it was no wonder these otherwise staid educators needed a throw-down.
And throw-down they did. As the marms told it, the liquor and food held out until dawn when one young teacher stumbled out to retrieve the morning paper and found it hadn’t snowed at all.
No snow, no Snow Day. No one had slept a minute all night, most were still under the influence, and they were now due in their classrooms in a little over an hour.
They all made it in, by the way, mainlining coffee and propping each other up for the duration. I can tell this story only because all the suspects have since retired, but I do wonder if I might have been a student sitting in one of their classrooms that hangover day. If I was, I never suspected a thing and none of my friends did either. None of us would ever have dreamed such a thing could happen, really. Teachers partying all night? Naw.
So even though I hear the sleet beating hearty rumba on the neighbor lady’s wind chimes right now, I’m setting an alarm. You never know.