Waiting in a winter wonderland
My wife was stranded in Mississippi. She was supposed to get home late on Friday night, but then the big snowstorm came. We ended up with 4-6 inches, which in the North would be considered a flurry. In the South, it means we have to shut her down for a spell.
While I was in the Food Lion — which felt like Times Square on New Year’s Eve, except with people clutching gallons of milk instead of glasses of cheap champagne — my wife was getting the terrible news that her flight to Charlotte had been canceled and the kids were getting the awesome news that school was closing early.
We weren’t really out of milk, but we were running low on food. I had no choice but to join the teeming masses in the grocery store unless we wanted to spend the weekend on a diet comprised of two small cans of mandarin oranges, a cup of stale cereal, and half a head of brownish lettuce.
Ordinarily, the first good snow of the year might make me a little giddy — snowed in, a day off work, playing board games with the kids, reading a good book with a glass of cabernet, buried beneath a pile of blankets with my trusty dachshund glued to my hip like a weird, furry sidearm. But, with Tammy stuck in Mississippi for who knew how long and the forecast assuring us that temperatures wouldn’t crawl much past single digits over the entire weekend, I just could not muster much enthusiasm for it.
By the time I got home, the snow was pelting everything in sight and the roads were already turning white. The kids were jumping all over the place, jabbering in unison about all of the great and heroic adventures we have in the snow, including snowball fights, making snow cream, and sledding at the fairgrounds, an annual Cox family ritual that ends with a pile of dripping clothes and a feast of hot dogs, tater tots, and hot chocolate.
“Goody, goody,” I said, imagining us out there in four degree weather with the wind sneering at me and my face feeling like a pin cushion. “Won’t that be great? Now let’s get these groceries out of the car. Watch out for the cabernet!”
“Never mind, I’ll get that bag.”
As the snow began to pile up outside, we retreated to our own corners of the house. I logged onto Facebook and already people were posting pictures of snowy driveways and decks and birdhouses. I glanced at the time and realized that Tammy would be 30,000 feet in the air at the very moment and not be seated in the best Mexican restaurant in Jackson, Mississippi, if not for that same snow.
One thing about Tammy: you can put her in any type of adverse situation in any city in America, and she will find her way to the best chicken chimichanga the town has to offer. It is her special gift.
Ordinarily, she would be thrilled to be trying out a new city’s best Mexican food, but when the inevitable text came telling me about it, there just was no heart in it. She didn’t even send a picture of her entrée, which spelled “depression.”
On Saturday morning, the temperature outside nudged tentatively above zero, like a rabbit poking its head out of a hole. I opened the front door so the dachshund could go out to potty. He paused at the door, took one sniff of the bitter air, and then looked at me as if I were trying to teach him how to do algebra. No thanks, you go ahead. I’ll pee on the bathroom rug while you’re not looking, if it’s all the same to you.
My daughter decided to make homemade creampuffs from a recipe she found on Pinterest, and my son was downstairs watching those hilarious prank videos on YouTube. As I was making coffee, I got another forlorn text from Tammy. Another flight canceled. She wondered if it would be “worth it” to rent a car, then drive from Mississippi to Charlotte, and then from Charlotte to home. One more flight cancellation, and she would be investigating the purchase of cross-country skis.
I told her to stay put. I bet her that the best Mexican restaurant also served up some killer fajitas. She said she could not spend another whole day in a hotel room watching Scrubs re-runs while crocheting.
After we ate some creampuffs, I convinced the kids that we should wait to go sledding until Mom got home. This bought me some precious time to watch re-runs of The Wire while eating leftover Christmas party-mix made out of pretzels, Chex cereal, and mixed nuts. Which goes great with cabernet, in case you ever wondered.