With the temperatures dipping to 25 below,
I feel it's now safe to pronounce summer officially over and
bring in the lawn furniture. That is, if I can find it under
Judging from the fact that our home only
has two small closets, our house was apparently built for nudist
hermits. With space at a premium, once we're sure the weather
has changed for good, all our clothes perform their ritual migration
south. In our case that's to the basement, where the shorts and
Hawaiian shirts spend the cold months basking in the relative
warmth next to the furnace.
Up come the sweaters, the coats, scarves
You'll notice I forgot to mention hats,
as in: "Stephen, are you going out in the cold without a
Originally that was my mother's favourite
phrase from November until about May. My wife has now laid claim
to it as an advance on my inheritance.
Strangely enough, I can't remember my
father ever suggesting I wear a hat. The most he would do after
an hour or two out in sub-zero weather is casually say: "Boy,
your ears sure are red."
"Yup," I'd reply, and that
would be the end of it.
For her part, mother would come up and
"help" me by putting her hands over my fast-frozen
ears and rubbing until they cracked and bits of them fell off.
Don't get me wrong - I love hats. It's
just that the only ones I've ever liked aren't very practical.
Like the real North Vietnamese Army pith helmet a friend brought
back from a trip. Or the fez I bought on my honeymoon. (Note:
If she is still married to you after wearing a fez home from
your honeymoon, it's a good indication that your marriage can
survive just about anything.)
But I guarantee that anything wooly and
practical won't make its way onto my head.
That's because most men would rather
freeze solid from the Adams apple up than wear a hat in winter.
Maybe it's the toughness thing. We don't want to admit we feel
the cold, even when we're down on our hands and knees looking
in a snow bank for our ears.
Maybe it's the goofy look of most winter
hats, which is important since men are far more vain than women.
It's one thing to wear a hat at a party that you know looks stupid
(see fez or pith helmet above), but it's a completely different
thing to look stupid just because you're trying to avoid frostbite
or hypothermia. That's a sign of weakness, not just poor judgment.
Poor judgment is something men long ago learned to live with.
I've seen a few Jester hats already this
winter, but let's face it - unless you're a bike courier or entertaining
royalty, you just look like a goof.
It reminds me of a friend I had at university
who wore one of those knit wool Sherpa hats all winter. It had
the pointy top and long dangling earflaps. Very fetching. Probably
as warm as anything, but he paid a terrible price. I don't remember
a woman ever saying anything, but every man he knew razzed him
And of course the irony was he had to
listen to our insults, since he was the only man in the group
whose ears weren't frozen solid.