“I’m cold, baby. It’s cold in here.”
I find myself saying that a lot lately. Maybe I’m getting old. Old people always seem to be cold. But I’d like to think it’s because I’ve lost some weight in the last few months and I don’t have as much natural insulation as I once did.
Whatever the case, I just can’t seem to heat up. No amount of hot chocolate or Chamomile tea can get me warm. A hot shower can dispel the inner chill for five or 10 minutes, but then it’s back under the quilt, which by the way, has been spinning in a clothes dryer for the past half hour.
I’m not a winter kind of guy. I dislike the winter and everything about it. I don’t ski or snowboard. I don’t ice skate or toboggan. I drive by Lake Mascuppic and see these people ice fishing or riding snowmobiles and I wonder how they do it. I’m shivering just looking at them.
I also wonder what compels the L Street Brownies and other polar-plunge people to jump into the frigid waters of the Boston Harbor every New Year’s Day. I’m serious when I say that I can feel their pain. My teeth start chattering as I watch the news. Here I am, dressing in layers and they’re removing their clothes. Makes no sense to me. It’s 8 degrees outside with a windchill factor of 11 below zero and some guy tells us, “It’s ideal. The water is 38 degrees so it’s actually warmer in the water.” Um, right.
One little girl came tearing out of the icy water screaming, “I can’t feel my body.” This is fun? No, this is madness.
My respect for firefighters has grown because of the cold. I was working on New Year’s night and had to cover two fires in the area. One was inside a laundromat on Chelmsford Street in Lowell. The other was at a Tewksbury residence. Thankfully, nobody was hurt at either fire. Sitting in the warmth of my car — my heater was on full blast — I was amazed by the efforts of those brave firefighters who wrestled with frozen fire hoses that were as hard as cement. Water blew back into their faces as they shot down the flames. Sidewalks turned into ice rinks. Icicles hung off their helmets. Yet none of them complained. They were all business.
I ventured out of my car to talk to the fire chief and felt the cold go right through me. How do these men and women do it?
Like I said, I can’t stand the winter. Give me the heat any day. At least in the summer, when the thermometer climbs and it starts getting uncomfortable, there are ways to cool off. Lately, it seems that I cannot find a way to get warm and stay warm.
Time was when I could go out and shovel for hours — my driveway, the front walkway, my in-laws next door. These days, I can’t stand being outside for more than 15 minutes. My fingers and toes get numb, then they hurt badly. The last storm we had, my 17-year-old son actually had to tell me to go inside and take a break.
“Pace yourself, dad. You’re not a young guy anymore.”
Now that’s cold.
Dennis Shaughnessey’s e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org.