Here at City College News we always look on the brighter side of life, whether that’s because we’re naturally optimistic or because we’ve completely distorted the line between sarcasm and genuine human emotion still remains to be seen. Either way, this winter — complete with subzero temperatures, multiple snow emergencies, and something that someone called a Polar Vortex — is, beyond question, one of the worst things that ever happened to Minneapolis in our lifetimes. So it’s time to polish off your rose-tinted glasses and take a long, cold gander at our list of the seven best things about this winter.
1) Forgive me
Whether you’re late to class because your usual 8-minute bus ride stretched out over an hour, or you call-in to work because your car won’t start with half-a-tank of gas in it — people are going to be pretty lenient with you. Maybe it’s because the draft in our skulls has frozen the part of the brain responsible for expectations, but for the most part it’s suddenly become acceptable to show up late (or not show up at all) to the boring shit we typically do out of obligation.
Don’t want to visit you mom and pop this week? They’ll understand. They have to, they’re your parents. Don’t want to walk around looking for jobs in the frozen wasteland? Your roommates won’t think you’re being a slacker, they’ll just think you’re being a survivalist. Don’t want to go into the office to attend your board meeting? Y’know, I bet everyone else is skipping it too. Meanwhile, you’ve got a bottle VSOP and half a season of GIRLS waiting for you in the comfort of your own apartment.
2) A common enemy
Here’s a joke: A Californian, a New Yorker, and a Minnesotan are in heaven waiting out the rest of eternity. The Californian says: “I love it here, everyone’s so fit and happy and I can jog forever without ever getting exhausted.” The New Yorker says: “This place is great, there’s no crime, the air is clean, and I can eat all the food and see all the music and art that I want without ever having to pay.” The Minnesotan has nothing to say because the weather is nice.
Small talk is a gift, and nobody does it quite like us locals. Whether we’re awkwardly waiting for the postman to leave us alone on our smoke break or just awkwardly trying not to creep-out the cute barista while she’s cupping our coffee, Minnesotans need to talk about the weather or else it just seems wrong. “I hear it’s going to be -20 tomorrow,” “I hear we’re getting another four inches,” “I hear the sun’s going to die and plunge the world into a new era of perpetual darkness.” If we don’t have bad weather to talk about, there’s nothing uniting us, and then we’re no better than all the other Beta-class world cities with no common distinguishing features. Just a nameless, faceless, turd of a city. Like Indianapolis.
3) Stop doing laundry
It’s harder to smell anything when the air is dry, and on top of that most people’s noses are either too runny or too congested to catch a whiff of your natural essence anyway. Which is really good news if you’ve been wearing the same full-body thermal underwear for the past three weeks.
Winter is the perfect opportunity to let the social contract about personal hygiene slip, and forgo showers in favor of allowing your oily body to protect itself from the bitter knife of a dry wind in the best way it knows how: getting greasy. So let your pits get wet, let your junk get funky, let your hair get gross, because, honestly, it’s too cold to give a fuck about something like taking a shower anyway.
4) Tough guys
Winter is the only season where chubby guys with stupid faces can pretend they’re tough. How do they do it, you ask? By being “that guy”, you know the one I’m talking about, the one who wears shorts and a T-shirt in the snow, and says garbage like “Oh, I’m from up north so this cold is nothing to me.” Yeah, we get it, you’re acclimated or you’re some kind of karate master that’s disciplined himself past the sensation of pain. You don’t have to rub it in our faces all the time when we’re bundled up with three pairs of jeans and a down comforter wrapped around our heads.
But you know what? Good for him. Once summer comes around and it’s beach season, and all the skinny girls and boys are frolicking half-naked on Calhoun Beach, chubby little Shorts In Winter Guy will still have the memory of being the toughest guy in January to keep him cold. And doesn’t every dumbass deserve his day?
5) Non-Exercise Aggro-metabolic Technique (NEAT)
According to Cha Cha, shivering burns 400 to 500 calories an hour. Factor in the strength training you’re doing by shoveling snow and you might actually lose weight this winter. Of course, all the fat burned off from shivering is only robbing you of much needed insulation and making you colder, so consider this white-knuckle winter an open invitation to pig out on the heartiest foods available from the city’s finest slophouses.
Just like winter is an excuse to let go of cleanliness, it’s also a chance to give up on ever being able to jump up and down without all of your parts bouncing for a minute after you’ve stopped. Winter means drinking the blackest beers, downing carbs on carbs on carbs, and taking an enormous dump just so you can do it all over again. If you really want, you can go to a gym — especially one with a sauna — and try to hang on to your summertime abs. But no one really cares this winter, because everyone looks like they have the same body when they’re all tangled up in two coats and three sweaters.
6) A place of my own
If you aren’t afraid of frostbite, and do decide to venture out into the world beyond your bedroom, you’ll find it a lot more sparsely packed than you remembered it being in November. That’s because everyone else is a wimp, and isn’t committed enough to beer and pizza to go to the bar when there’s a -40 windchill.
This is a good opportunity to really get to know the servers and bartenders at joints that are usually too overcrowded with the Dinkytown set on the weekends for you to even get an order in. Chances are you won’t have to wait for a pool table, or suffer through anyone playing Journey on the jukebox, and if they do bar Bingo then that gift card is practically yours.
7) Nothing lasts forever
Even though winter 2013 stretched deep into May, it still ended, and when it did the world was beautiful and everything was perfect. Just like an orgasm is nothing but a release of built up sexual tension, a good spring is just a release of built up winter. Places without winter will never be able to appreciate the sight of green grass or stupid little birds the way a Minnesotan can.
And you can whine all you want about how this year you’ll be in Florida before Christmas, but deep in your heart you know that 365 days of sun isn’t worth one day in spring in Minneapolis. Specifically that one day where you don’t have to wear a coat and you feel 50 pounds lighter and you walk down Hennepin like you’re floating on a cloud. Everyone is smiling at you from the patios and people you’ve never met are buying you drinks because, goddamnit, it’s gorgeous out!