DISCLAIMER: I have influenza (which is a dramatic way of saying “the flu”). I’m pretty sure that this post isn’t contagious, but I ask that you be merciful as you read it.
I have a superpower, and no, I’m not delirious with fever. Don’t get too excited; it’s nothing that lets me fight crime, and I’m not about to post pictures of myself in a flashy leotard. (Not that I wouldn’t create a uniform for myself in a second with the slightest provocation.) Like a lot of superpowers, mine’s origin is linked to personal injury. In fact its linked to my only personal injury story that involves a snowman.
Not a radioactive snowman though, which is too bad. I might have become Snowman-man, wielding the awesome ability to draw magic out of old silk hats. This in addition to being the manliest of superheroes because I would use “man” twice in my name. The only possible option for greater manliness would be created if, in a fit of radioactive stupor, I bit someone and turned him into Snowman-man-man. Luckily my mother always told me not to bite.
Either way, back in the somewhat disappointing reality, I had never seen snow before college. I’m from the tropics. (Essentially anyway, but more on that another time.) Snow was always an ideal, a sort of fairy tale. Until you’ve sweated through your shorts and t-shirt while viewing Christmas light’s on a palm tree, you probably can’t understand how far-fetched (and vaguely mocking) the song “White Christmas” is. Thus I was pretty excited about moving north for school.
In fact I chose my college in part because there had been a massive blizzard there during my senior year of high school. (I’m serious; that was how I made decisions.) I wanted to dive into winter and be overwhelmed by it. In my defense I didn’t have any real way of understanding what that might mean. I pretty much thought it involved singing and cookies.
Luckily, I didn’t get what I wanted. The next four years were the mildest that anyone could remember. In four years, it snowed three times, and never more than a couple of inches. The first time I had mono, so I spent it trapped in bed. The third time I learned that I shouldn’t ice skate down a frozen hill if there’s loose gravel at the bottom, so I spent a lot of time in bed after that too. The second time changed my life forever.
(You should supply some dramatic music here. It makes the story better.)
The snow came on suddenly. In the course of a single evening, a cold front moved through the area and dropped the temperature more than 40 degrees. I entered that evening completely unaware. When I left dinner, the weather was still fairly mild. I had dressed for those conditions– jeans and a light long-sleeve shirt–and not bothered to carry any boreal accoutrements.
Then I made–(music builds)–the fateful decision to visit one of my friends. He lived on the opposite side of campus from my own dorm, in a room with a single window. At that time of year when the sun set, the glare was almost blinding, so he kept the curtain closed. If he had kept it open, I might still be a mere mortal.
Instead I had the proverbial date with destiny, or if destiny had bid farewell to dating, the supervised opportunity to court destiny.
I didn’t leave his room until two in the morning, but then it was through some strange magical doorway into a different world, a world of incredible beauty and vanishing body parts. For example, I’m pretty sure I had an upper lip when I left my friend’s room, but after about 15 seconds outside, there was just an empty tingly space between my nose and chin. A few seconds after that, my nose was replaced by a phantom ache, and my cheeks felt like they might shatter at any moment.
It occurs to me now, if I had had a faithful dog with me, I would have been in the beginnings of a Jack London story. I wasn’t upset though. I was distracted by the wintry awesomeness: there was snow everywhere.
Then a snowman fell off of a passing airplane and flattened me like a cartoon character under an anvil.
Ok, that didn’t actually happen. But years later I did suffer from la grippe (an even more dramatic way of saying “the flu”), which is making me break this post into two parts. Sadly, my as-yet-undisclosed superpower doesn’t help me at all. Who thought that typing could feel strenuous?
Stay tuned, because in part 2 I decide not to be a walrus, imitate Saint Francis of Assisi, and discover the power of shade.