I’m not sure what I dislike more: snow and ice on the roads or my Northern friends bragging about how well they drive in it.
For all you folk who have moved down here from above the Mason-Dixon line, I’d like to remind you that Oscars are given to those who give stellar performances in the movies, Emmys are given to those who create unforgettable characters on television, but as far as I know, nothing is awarded to those of you who successfully drive to Walmart during an ice storm to pick up some frivolous item just to say you did so.
To all you boastful Northerners, I don’t really care about your vehicular expertise. Feel free to promote your pavement prowess, but please restrain your judgments when we gentle people of the South decide to stay home as snow and ice start weighing down and snapping the limbs of our dogwood and magnolia trees. We’d rather be safe than sorry. Southerners prefer ice in their sweet tea, not on their roads.
Northerners also enjoy laughing at us for our stockpiling of goods when there is the potential for falling weather. A winter storm to a Southerner seems to take on the same seriousness as an impending nuclear apocalypse. Perhaps the urgency rises from our days of Union raids during the Civil War when we were uncertain of how long we might have to go without flour, sugar, and other staple goods.
The moment the National Weather Service issues a winter weather advisory for our area, you can count on the local grocery stores being emptied of coffee, lunch meat, bread, milk, eggs, boss Cokes, toilet paper, diapers, and beer. With an adequate supply of these items, we could survive for days in any root cellar.
Soon after we stock our kitchen cabinets, the precipitation begins. Not too long after that, you know what happens next: the electricity goes out and we’re left in the dark.
Suddenly, there is no way to fix coffee and the 24-roll bulk package of Charmin sits motionless in the middle of the bathroom because the well pump is lifeless and the toilet won’t flush. We then have to sit around in the dark washing down slices of white bread with warm Coke because we need double A batteries for the flashlight, but all we can find in the kitchen junk drawer are triple A batteries used for the kids’ remote-control Monster Trucks they got for Christmas.
Finally, in an ingenious move to create light, we look in the vegetable drawer of our refrigerator and pull out the three purple candles previously used in the advent wreath and that other candle in the shape of the number five used at a child’s birthday party several decades ago. Now if you don’t smoke, successfully finding a book of matches in a dark house holds about the same probability as locating Lindsay Lohan in an Oscar-nominated film.
Just when you think all is lost, you remember the car’s cigarette lighter—a perfect source to light your candles. You pull on your Arctic gear, open the front door and face the elements. After performing a few moves over the icy mantle of white never attempted by a Russian Olympic skater, you make it to your car, retrieve the lighter, get back to the house, and begin lighting the candles.
As soon as the last candle is lit and your house takes on the ambiance of an Agatha Christie murder mystery, the lights suddenly flicker on, the furnace roars under your feet, the radio blares, and the refrigerator begins to hum again.
Whether you are religious or not, you thank God for this miracle and begin blowing out all the candles. And just as you extinguish the last candle, the lights flicker and then go off again. The furnace groans to a halt, the oldies radio station is silenced in the middle of Debbie Boone’s “You Light Up My Life,” and the refrigerator no longer hums a tranquil tune to the lunch meat.
Suddenly you are again in the dark and playing out an episode of “Survivor”. You have no matches, no flashlight with working batteries, and who knows where you put the car’s cigarette lighter. If only you had a Northerner living in your house. They would know what to do. Unfortunately, they left an hour ago when the precipitation began to pick up a frivolous item from Walmart.
The South will rise again, but I doubt that victorious moment will arrive during a snowstorm. And if they do start handing out awards to individuals who can drive to Walmart when a sheet of ice is covering the road, you can rest assured that the recipient of such a trophy will not be someone who enjoys the flavor of grits, subscribes to Southern Living, and believes Scarlett O’Hara was the greatest heroine of all time.