S minus seven days 

It starts when some fool — usually the National Weather Service or some media yahoo with years of experience — gets to talking about a storm predicted to arrive in a week or so. 

Mark LaFlamme

“Ptth,” I scoff, even if there’s nobody else in the room, because this is an important part of the process. “They can’t forecast a storm a week away. That sucker is going to blow out to sea or dissolve over Boston or something. You’ll see. I have a knack for these things.” 

S minus five days 

Yahoos are still talking about this alleged “storm” that’s supposedly expected to hit us and now they’re using all the grandiose terms that weather nerds tend to like. They’re all “gusting winds” and “substantial snowfall” and blah blah blah. 

What’s worse is that now ordinary people like possibly you are talking about the coming storm, too, so I have to employ my black belt level talent for denial everywhere I go. 

“Pttth!” I say to the yahoo at Hannaford who had the gall to bring it up while I was just standing there peacefully trying to pay for my tuna. “Ain’t going to happen,” I say. “Too much barometric pressure over lower New England. Low fronts and jet streams, stuff like that. This storm is going to disintegrate and go floating off toward Nova Scotia or something. We won’t see a single flake. Gee, mister. Why do you need that much toilet paper, anyway?” 

S minus one day 

By this point, the hysteria is really getting on my nerves. In what I consider the ultimate betrayal, editors have asked me to write a story about this coming “storm” that I don’t even believe in. Write about a story that isn’t even coming! What am I, a fantasy novelist? 

I write my story in complex code, indicating to the faithful that it is lies. Lies, I tell you! 

Storm day, allegedly 

I’m glaring out my kitchen window (window glaring is one of my favorite things, you ought to try it) when I see them: the first fat flakes that make up the vanguard of the supposed storm that’s now barreling in on us. Reportedly. 

“Won’t see more than two inches, I guarantee it,” I mutter. “No need to gas up the snowblowers. No reason to retrieve the shovel I hurled into the neighbor’s yard the last time we got some snow. I’ll just stay here in my Scooby pj’s and when it’s over I can go out and laaaaaaugh at all the fools who bought into the hype.” 

Then I realize I’m gripping the windowsill so tightly, the wood has cracked. Then I realize the snow is coming down even harder now and the wind is shrieking. Then I realize . . . 

But that’s when the blackouts come, bless them. By the time I come to, it’s a day later and there are 12 #[email protected]#!! inches of snow in the yard. 

“Why the hell didn’t someone warn me that we were getting a storm?” I fume. 

I’ll spend 15 minutes angrily throwing on hat and boots, gloves and fleece-lined pantaloons in preparation for the grim work that must be done. With every step, I’m muttering and swearing in a language so vicious and guttural, only other snow-haters will understand. Denial has given way to rage. 

“You know, if we had a yard that could be plowed, this wouldn’t be such a #$#@! hassle!” I complain to my wife, whose ears have actually evolved to a point that they no longer hear my snow rants. It’s really quite a marvel. 

Once outside, in the cold blowing air, my rage becomes my fuel, and I don’t so much shovel the snow as attack it. If the icy wind is just right, you can hear my battle cries, which include such screamed words as “Florida . . . flamethrower” and “How the $%$#@! did the shovel get all the way over there in the neighbor’s yard?” 

A-shoveling and a-snowblowing is a drag, but if you do the job in a blind rage it goes much quicker. Shake your fists at the passing plows as they fill up the end of your driveway with hard, crusty snow for the fifth %$#[email protected] time that day. Make up a new swear word for each back-breaking shovelful of snow you haul out of the driveway. Do that thing where you place the shovel handle against your gut for leverage, push, and then enjoy the wind being knocked out of you as the shovel slams to a stop against some #$#@! ridge in the pavement. 

Actually, don’t do that last one. You could die. 

As I sit here writing, every fool in the world is blah, blah, blah-ing about this big, bad “storm” that’s “supposed” to begin walloping us “this very day.” As you can see by my copious use of quotation marks, I scoff at the lot of you. My denial for this one is like steel and I just KNOW that this storm is going to break away to nothing due to that hyperbolic low pressure mutton tuber lying off the coast of Vermont or some such. 

I’m going to be right, too, just you wait and see. My system doesn’t always work, but you know what they say about the blind squirrel getting that nut every now and then. 

And if I’m wrong, at least I’ll have the blackouts to look forward to — blackouts and denial. It’s the only way to get through winter, really. 


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