Winter Woe

winter woeEvery year I convince myself that I like winter a little more than I actually do.

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!”


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.

Ow ow ow ow ow!
Daaaaaaad! Ow ow ow ow ow!

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.



107 Replies to “Winter Woe”

  1. MIke, Sorry to hear you’ve been a sweaty mess. If you need to contemplate story ideas, I hate shoveling the driveway. Mi driveway es tu driveway. 🙂 Somehow my husband never EVER seems to do it and I find myself out there with the dog looking at me like I’m the meanest person in the world. This was a very funny post.

    1. Tell ya what. I’ll shovel if you mow.

      And you need to tell that ungrateful, rodent-hating pooch of yours that the meanest owner in the world would make THE DOG shovel and cut the grass. Sheesh. Such entitlement!

  2. 1. Get cows for the lawn. Bonus upside–cows don’t sweat.
    2. Purchase each of your loved ones a can of air for the spiders. Spiders don’t like poofy fluffs aimed at them.
    3. Install a humidifier. What you need is some misting, mister. That dry air is what causes those zaps or touch something before you reach out to touch someone. Ma Bell has good advice.
    4. Shoveling snow doesn’t make you sweat!

    1. 1. I am a goat person and, alas, my yard is not large enough for me to keep them.

      2. While I applaud your humane spider removal system, Ellen would never go for it. She demands death. DEMANDS it.

      3. You’re right about the humidity, of course. But such is my electrical conductivity, I would need to keep the house’s humidity at rain forest level. And, well, I wanna keep the wallpaper of the walls.

      4. And, yes, I do sweat a little when I shovel, but it is an acceptable, manageable sweat.

  3. Don’t forget to ground yourself before visiting a self-serve gas station! Don’t want those sparks flying into the tank!

    1. It’s a moot point, my friend. New Jersey is the only state in the Union that has a law against self-serve gas stations. This convenience, apparently, is why we live here despite the corruption, lawlessness, and crippling taxes.

      1. Wow. OK then! But just in case you travel beyond the borders…You DO know how to pump your own gas right?

  4. Ha ha ha. Summer = sweat and spiders. Winter = no sweat, electrified, and bonus snow shoveling. What about spring and fall? Anything special you’d like to share.
    I giggled like a school girl reading this. Sorry.
    I l.o.v.e. shoveling snow but my son-in-law gets to enjoy it nowadays. 😀 😀 😀

      1. Ha ha. I was teasing more than expecting a serious answer, Mike. Sounds like where I live. Our snow just arrived a couple months late. I wonder what spring and summer will be like this year. The seasons are messed up. 😀

  5. As I sit here snuggled in blankets trying to stay toasty warm in this frigid forty two degree morning I have to disagree with your comments on winter. Don’t get me wrong…I love snow! Playing in the snow is a novelty. But from where I come, I have to prepare for it and that takes weeks! Unlike a marathon runner who practices daily, I have to psych myself into being able to tolerate numbness and pain when I breathe, for a few days of fun. Rick on the other hand shivers when you say the word “snow”, too many years in Upstate living like a popsicle. Our rule is that I can go wherever I want as long as there isn’t snow. And, if there is snow…I will be going alone! Unlike you, Rick loves to mow the lawn…it’s his zen time…his creative time. The only thing you have in common is you both sweat…and stink. Eew!

    And don’t get me started ob spiders…

    1. I feel your pain, Mrs. P., but come on. The words “frigid” and “42 degrees” don’t fit together too well.

      Perhaps Rick and I could come to some kind of understanding; if he cuts my lawn I shovel your driveway.

  6. I hate winter. So I appreciate your listing the ‘positives’ of winter, like comfy flannel sheets, gingerbread (in my case warm chocolate chip cookies), and long soaks in a bubble bath tub (I’ve been known to read AN ENTIRE BOOK) in the tub.
    However, the minuses of winter far outweigh the pluses. Shoveling? Bah. Humbug. Spiders? Have you ever stared one in the eye? I have. They are aliens from another planet and they do NOT like humans. As far as static electricity…well, for you, I would imagine winter is a very lonely season.
    (That said, I love your doodle and I bet you build funky fun snowmen with spiders for the eyes.)

    1. I should clarify that spiders and I are not friends. I don’t have an affection for them. I would just rather not kill them. In the winter months they disappear — and for that I am grateful.

      You read an entire book in the tub?! Dang. Your big feet must have turned into two enormous prunes!

  7. I LOVE winter, but I slipped on the ice last week in a slow motion, cliched pratfall. That would never happen in summer. We have spiders year round. Yours must go stealth.

  8. I too hate to sweat and like to shovel. I even choose my forms of exercise on things I like to do more than I hate to sweat, so martial arts, natch, cuz, bonus, hitting people, and yoga because after 40 a good stretch can be a sweet thing.

  9. Oh my! The static electrification of your family members had tears of laughter rolling. Are you a secret superhero? Can you use your superpower on the spiders? That would be cool. We cohabitate with spiders too. On occasion, my grandson says the house is “spooky” and I’m shamed into vacuuming up the 18-foot webs. Have a great winter, Mike. I hope you get lots of glorious snow 🙂

  10. I wish I had your penchant for winter. We just had our first winter storm this morning, and it made my driving so unpleasant that I’d rather be hunting spiders. But not snakes. I’ll take snow over snakes.

  11. Oh.. ouch! Static electricity is not fun (as an adult) but I remember when we were kids and we had shag carpet in our house. We would put on socks and intentionally try to “juice up” as much as possible, turn out the lights and watch the sparks fly! LOL! Yeah… not so much now! I’m sorry you have more than your fair share. 😦
    I do not like winter. I don’t like anything about it! I don’t like cold, snow, bare trees, no pretty song birds (except for Cardinals) having to wear a coat, heavy clothes… well, you get the picture. But it does need to get cold enough, long enough to kill off the bad bugs.
    As for spiders, I don’t mind them when they are outside. I have beautiful garden spiders and I have been known to actually feed them. I don’t want them in my house, but if I can get one to walk onto a piece of paper or the broom, I take them outside alive. Provided they aren’t poisonous spiders like a brown recluse or black widow. We have house geckos in the summer too. Find them all over the place inside and out! Harmless little creatures that eat the bad bugs. The only downfall I see is in summer is bad bugs and Scorpions… *shivers*
    Can’t wait til Spring! 😉

      1. Well it was 26 degrees when we got up this morning! Soo… pretty cold. Last year we had several days that it was down around -0- at night and only climbed up into the teens during the day. :-/

      2. I am in East Texas… we can actually get several inches of snow a year. But it only sticks around for a couple of days thank goodness! They had snow flurries and sleet in Dallas/Ft Worth last week on a day I had an appointment to go so I rescheduled.

  12. Oh, how I love this post. Oh, how you have a way with words. Oh, how you made me laugh first thing in the morning. Oh, how I’m sort of ambivalent about spiders. Oh, how it’s incredibly fun to write “oh” at the beginning of a sentence.

  13. My son is with Ellen and your boy regarding spiders. We’ve tried to convince him that they can be ushered outside with a piece of paper, but he’s not buying it. And about that “only taking orders” business. I’ve yet to post my son’s Lego stop-motion video about Columbus. In it, those who argue they were only taking orders were assigned a fair amount of blame via the system of empire. Stay tuned…One thing about your post that I can’t believe: You don’t become a sweaty mess when shoveling snow? Very very very hard to believe. You must not be putting enough effort into it. Get back out there, buster, and do it right. (Sorry, was channeling your mother for a moment)

    1. You’re right. “Just following orders” never absolves one of blame. I am going to have to a a spidery conscientious objector. I’ll bet the Quakers don’t kill spiders. Although Nixon was a Quaker, so maybe.

  14. Mike, I must agree with Ellen and your son: “Get rid of those spiders . . . and anything else that crawls and should be outdoors.” I loath bugs of all types. Once there was a centipede crawling around on the walls and couldn’t not get to sleep until I got it out of my apartment. Now I have a house and the critters seems to think I pay a mortgage for their benefit.

    As for snow, you are more than welcome to contemplate and infuse your creative juices while shoveling my small driveway and sidewalk. No one will complain about snow sweat, or anything else, as long as the drive and car are cleaned off. Deal? And bring the “death tissues” with you, just in case. I swear something flew by me a while ago. Something small and dark. Yikes!

    1. Oh, I have no compunction whatsoever about killing centipedes. None. What. So. Ever. I’d go to other people’s houses just to kill them.

      As for your driveway, perhaps you could bribe me with some gingerbread…?

  15. I love your posts, Mike! Perhaps a snowblower would keep you drier?!
    I recently found a use for something called a hedgeapple, from a hedgeapple tree mind you, that you put in your basement to rid your house of insects. They are weird, bright green inedible fruits, and they are all over the ground where I run. Have you heard of them? So anyway, I looked them up recently to see what the heck they were, and found out they are natural pest repellants. I have a few sliced in half down there now, and so far so good. No spiders anywhere!
    And also, my maternal grandmother used to wear a metal thimble on her finger during the winter to prevent shocks. She swore by it! But adding humidity and not wearing shoes in the house usually fixes the problem – unless like your excess sweat problem, you have an excess body charge problem as well…
    I’m really not as weird as this comment is – promise! Your post just made me think of these things. lol Happy New Year to you and your family!

      1. I know, Mike! I was having a weird night and on second thought, should have never left that weird comment! Was thinking, how would someone even respond to that?? But your response is perfect! I will try to show you in future comments that I’m not a total whack job… but it’s probably too late! LOL!

  16. Lawn mowing is the #1 reason I want to turn my entire yard into a giant vegetable garden and mini orchard. The #2 reason is the food. 😀

    Have you tried placing some humidifiers strategically around the house? That may reduce some of the static electricity.

  17. I love your writing. I wish you had a new blog everyday, but then I may not like it as much. The ones who write daily, I’m finding myself deleting a lot without reading. The sad truth is they’re overwhelming and I now have 800+ emails in my in-box. If I did nothing but read all day, I don’t think I could keep up, but I digress. The purpose of this comment was to say you are singing my song, brother! Just yesterday as I was waiting for 2 hours (ugh) in the car hospital for them to tell me that my back-up camera wasn’t working which is what we told them when we took the car in to make the appointment, I was visiting with an older gentleman in the waiting room and told him how I much prefer winter to summer because I don’t tolerate the heat well. I did not go into the gory details of boob sweatage. Be glad, be very glad Mike, that you don’t have boobs. One more miserable sweaty place. Anyway, after he looked at me like I was crazy, he told me to stay clear of Florida. ha ha Great advice. Also on the spider thing, I’m not scared of them like most females (unless they’re rather large and furry) but I don’t like them hanging around. I will kill on sight because a.If you don’t take care of them immediately, they go into hiding and then you can’t find them. b. They will reproduce. c. I don’t like the idea of spiders hanging over my head. I will kill them with my bare hands if I don’t have anything else available and most of the time I prefer to kill them when I see them rather than having hubby because sometimes he misses and then they get away. We have the same “shocking” problem here that you have. And we experienced the “shocking” kiss the other night. I usually grab hubby’s arm as he’s moving in, but that night didn’t manage to and Ouch!
    It’s below freezing out and I’m sitting inside with a short sleeved tee on and bare feet.
    The sad thing is Hubby loves the summer and heat and hates the cold. He told me one day that he likes when you get in the vehicle in the summer and it’s been sitting out in the sun all day and it’s super hot inside. He will sit in there and just bask in the warmth. I can’t even imagine. Happy New Year Mike!

    1. Thanks for the kind words, Jude. I don’t know how some bloggers can write on a daily basis. I sure can’t. I barely have enough time in my life to write a new post once a week.

      And thank you kindly for your report on boob sweatage. On an entirely unrelated note, I have no idea why those strangers in the auto repair shop think you’re nuts.

      The anecdote about your husband sitting in a broiling hot car troubles me. I think your story proves that he is a reptilian alien of some sort. I don’t know what his intentions are, but you might want to consider packing a bag and sneaking off in the dead of night — preferably to a cold place where reptiles don’t live, spiders don’t breed, and boobs don’t inordinately sweat.

      Good luck and Godspeed!

  18. I absolutely hate winter. I often get sick, its freezing cold and here in Australia we don’t get snow. So there is nothing fun about it either.
    Great Post!

      1. Unfortunately, yes, sometimes they are big and shiny, or big and furry, or big and black, or massive and shiny and furry and black……. yeah you get the idea

  19. Loved this post and laughed at the spider anecdotes. Only problem being that at the time I was on a train full of commuters. I disturbed the newspaper rustling peace and earned myself a few disgruntled looks. Boom!

  20. Mike – what can I say? It’s all been said already! However, I wonder whether you have considered the relationship between sweat (or lack thereof) and static electricity? Now, I’m no scientist but I have observed (and through my own personal experiences) that even a simple electrical charge will not come within a mile of a sweaty male – particularly those with body hair and grass clippings meshed together. So, perhaps some experimentation with body temperature during the winter months may be worthwhile? However, having to undress at the backdoor and run through the house naked toward the bathroom (as I have to – according to my life partner) may be too extreme and dangerous in the deep of winter. Natural Inversion is a definite possibility.

    Great post Mate – so much to have fun with – partners, spiders, seasons, electricity – you covered all the bases! Keep em coming.

  21. Totally feel you, Mike! Not only do I shock Mr. H with the crazy things that come out of my mouth, my winter kisses are deadly. We laugh together at my misfortune, and I try not to take it personally when he firms his lips in preparation for a goodbye kiss before work.

Join the conversation! We're all friends here.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: