Lileks: We sent the Vortex packing

  • Article by: JAMES LILEKS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 11, 2014 - 4:37 PM

You probably had the same experience during last week’s Attack of the Polar Vortex: You’d be talking to someone in another city, and they’d say, Wow, how do you survive?

Well, I don’t strip naked, cover myself with fast-evaporating alcohol and run around outside, for starters. We have this thing called “a civilization” with heat and everything.

Yeah, I know, but I saw on the news where it was like 40 below in some town called Humiliation.

That’s Embarrass, up in Mortification County, and that’s at least — hey, wait a minute, you’re in St. Louis Park.

Well it’s 14 below here but I see it’s 16 below in the Cities. How’re you managing?

If you didn’t get the taunting call from sunbird relatives — which is like someone who had the money to flee the Black Death and calls to say “How’s the plague? Saw on the news they’re dying like flies!” — then you missed the opportunity to defend the Polar Vortex. It brought us together as a people, united in our desire to not lose a toe if we could avoid it.

Unless you were a teen who headed off for the bus undressed because some theoretical peer might judge your mittens, and required a parent to intervene: “Wear this or your nose will die. Do you understand? You will not get a letter of recommendation from the Teen Council of Awesomeness for sacrificing your nose because scarves are lame.”

You watch them march down the street and take off the scarf when they think they’re out of sight. A week later the letter actually shows up and you tear it up before they see it.

Bright side: The snap killed 80 percent of the ash-borer beetles. Sure, the 20 percent that survived will probably pass on their hardy genes and we’ll see them wearing tiny parkas next year, but it’s not often you see stories that say, more or less, “Massive Slaughter of Living Things Brings Cheer to Hearts of Many.” The phrase “bad for the beetles” could be the new “good for the crops” when we wish to sound wise about weather.

Now it’s done. We’ve seen winter’s worst and shrugged: eh. And if the Vortex descends in May and the scientists say it’ll kill all the beetles, well, you know what we hardy folk will say!

Really? Really? C’mon, it’s not like we need all those trees.

jlileks@startribune.com • 612-673-7858

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