OK, people, show of hands: Who made a deal with the devil during the polar vortex?
Come on, admit it; one of you did. Ah, you there, looking a bit abashed. Let me guess: Smell of brimstone, tingling sensation in your extremities, poof, guy in a nice suit appears?
“He looked more like the singer in the Super Bowl halftime show. I don’t know, my daughter’s a fan.”
Doesn’t matter. I know what happened. The devil asked what you wanted, and you said you wanted it to be warm, right? And he said, “Do you want the snow to melt?” And you said yes. And the devil said, “Even if it makes the world be encased with ice the next week?” And you said you didn’t care, you just wanted it to melt.
I see you nodding. I thought so. Well, here’s what transpired:
As we all know, the wonderful end to the polar vortex was a hot spell, and we delighted in the warmth. Dare I say we basked. And then it got cold, and it all froze, and now everyone over 40 walks on the sidewalk like their pants are full of nitroglycerin. Under 40, you think your body’s made of Super Ball material and you’ll just bounce right back up if you fall. But everyone else is thinking that they’ll end up with, at best, a minor concussion. At worst, my coccyx shoots up my esophagus.
The other night, we sprinkled grit on the sidewalk, because it is the public-spirited thing to do. Also, there are lawsuits. I can’t remember what 100 pounds of grit cost, but it was cheaper than a lawsuit.
Wife puts on her special ice-traction shoes, because she does not want to suffer traumatic brain injury while making the world a safe place. I put on my sneakers, because they’re handy and I’m stupid.
We split the duties: I haul the 50-pound bags around, refilling the bucket, and she distributes the grit. We’re about 10 yards from the garage when I realize that I cannot move up the garage apron. I just slide back. It was so slick that it was doubtful I could even crawl back to the garage.
The only way to safety — and I think this sums up perfectly our life in this place, at this time — was to shake grit in front of me to create a safe path, and shuffle back to the garage. This I did, feeling like Indiana Jones on a rope bridge stung over a chasm with rotten boards for planks.
The grit scattering completed, I was tempted to sit by the window and watch people walk down the sidewalk without falling, feeling like a benevolent god: “They know not that I watch over them, nor that I protect their butt bones from harm.”
No one came by. Too cold. The next day it snowed, and that provided good traction.
Flash forward six months, when the lawn mower catches the grit and sprays it against a passing car, and I wonder, “Where did that come from?” Then the driver gets out, mad, hits me, and I slip on the sidewalk and hit my head. Somewhere, Satan will laugh.