Don’t get me wrong; I like winter a lot. It’s the season I don’t sweat. Oh, how I hate to sweat. And I’m pretty sure I sweat more than most people.
Winter is also the season I don’t cut the lawn. Oh, how I hate to cut the lawn, for it is the sweatiest chore ever invented by anyone ever. And sweating while mowing is beyond awful. By the time I finish cutting and bagging my grass on a hot summer day, a shag carpet’s worth of clippings are spot-welded to every inch of my sweaty, sweaty self. The only thing worse that being sweaty is being sweaty and filthy.
On mowing days that are particularly sweaty and filthy, I attempt to convince Ellen that we should replace our lawn with a yard full with gravel. “Like they do at beach houses!” I say with all the false enthusiasm I can muster. “We can pretend we live near the ocean! Wouldn’t that be fun?”
“No,” she replies. “Now go shower. You’re sweaty and filthy.”
The arrival of winter also means I no longer need to be on-call for spider-killing duty. During the warmer months this is pretty much my full time job.
I find that spiders prefer to reveal themselves three seconds after I sit down to read. It’s quite remarkable, really. In tandem with the cracking of a book spine I hear an anguished “MICHAEL!” or “DAAAAAD!” from a far off corner of the house.
“COMING!” I shout back, for I am nothing if not a dutiful husband and father. “Just let me finish this paragraph!”
BUT IT’S MOOOOOVING!”
So much for the paragraph. I grab a Squishing Tissue and the Assassination Stepstool (the offending spider is almost always on the ceiling) and get to work.
In the days before I was married, my relationship with spiders was not nearly as antagonistic. I lived by one simple rule: If I needed a stepstool to kill them, they wouldn’t get killed. It was a fair arrangement; I stayed on the floor, spiders stayed on the ceiling, and we both had the exact same amount of square footage on which to live. It was a kind of utopia, really.
Ellen’s spider philosophy is different: The Only Good Spider Is A Dead Spider. Ellen is my partner and soulmate, so I kill. Please don’t judge me. I’m just following orders.
Winter doesn’t just keep me away from much-hated chores; the season also has a lot to offer. I like snow. A lot. I even like to shovel it; the act of shoveling places me in a serene meditative state that gets my creative juices flowing. Many of my best story ideas germinate as I clear my driveway.
I’m more alert in cold weather. I laugh easier. My bed is comfier. Long showers are more satisfying. You can make an entire dinner out of nothing but soup and bread. And, thanks to my mother-in-law, the house is stocked with enough gingerbread to last until April.
Unfortunately, there is a big downside to winter that I try my best to forget:
No one wants to come near me.
Winter is the time of year I attract static electricity. Oh, how I hate static electricity. And I’m pretty sure I attract more static electricity than most people. The simple act of getting out of a chair churns up enough energy in my body to power a small African village. Everything I touch sends sparks flying and pain shooting up my fingers and arms.
I deliver pain as often as I receive it. Last week I touched my son on the shoulder and he collapsed to the floor as if he was Luke Skywalker getting worked over by Emperor Palpatine.
My son has a flair for the dramatic, yes. But he has since made a concerted effort to stay out of my reach.
Ellen can also count herself as a victim. This morning as she got ready to leave for work I leaned in for a kiss. My electrified lips sent us both lurching backwards in pain.
“DAMMIT!” she exclaimed. Not exactly a sweet nothing, but justified under the circumstances.
“Um. Sorry. I love you!”
“I love you, too,” she grumbled as she headed out the door.
Then she gave me a peculiar sideways glance. Maybe I read her expression wrong, but I think she has decided to treat me like a leper until March.
It is a depressing thought. To soothe my emotional pain, I will drown my sorrows in gingerbread. As I do so, I will contemplate the unthinkable: maybe lawn cutting and spider killing isn’t as bad as I once thought.