I used to like winter. I know that as you get older, the cold does different things to your body, but that’s not what happened to me. If I had my way, I’d live in cold temperatures 365 days a week. I hate the heat, I hate the sun, and I hate sweating, so cold cold cold does it for me. The big problem that I have with winter, is snow. I remember one time being enamored with what you could do with snow. My uncle Julius was phenomenal when it came to all things frozen. He could create real people from ice, the way those stupid painters on the boardwalk paint your portrait. The main differentiator was that his work looked real, and seemed to breath, even though you could almost see through it. Uncle Julius told me that once he figured out how to make shadows using snow, the rest was easy. The speed with which he worked was breathtaking and the slack-jaws that came to watch him ice sculpt always went away with something to tell their friends.
I remember Uncle Jules used to have women line up every day, I mean hot women who hadn’t forgotten how to dress. Jules always had this sly look on his face and never seemed to really look his models directly in the eye, except when he got really really close to their face. He always touched the women’s cheek with a piece of ice, which always made them shiver and left a little drop of water running down their face. It got pretty old after awhile, but it seemed to be the only joy he derived in the entire experience, which wasn’t unusual considering how much Uncle Jule hated people, even the hot ones.
Every year, from about November to the middle of January, he would go outside of his welding shop and hold court for three to four hours as people lined up to either watch or buy tickets to be sculpted. For a long time, I was his assistant, and he always got me something really cool for Christmas as my payment, and then something equally great on the last day of the season. He called it Christmas in July, which is why I never understood what that meant until I was much older. With all of this happy good time “storieness” that I’m laying on you, I suppose you’re wondering what went wrong. That’s where my mother comes in, and her season of Snow Prohibition.
As I started getting older and figuring out the bullshit that was being slung towards my general direction, I actually had the nerve to start questioning my parents. At first it was simple little things like, “Egyptian children were only allowed to use military time when addressing their elders”, but eventually I got into complete, personal untruths such as, “the reason girls don’t talk to you is because you hold your mother’s well being in contempt”. It didn’t take long to discover that the reason girls didn’t talk to me was because my mother didn’t let me start wearing deodorant until I was thirteen, approximately a year and a half after I needed it. There’s a whole long explanation for that, but I’ll save it for another post.
The biggest fight I’ve ever had with my mother came at the age of 15, and had nothing to do with frozen water at all. It started off simply enough, during a discussion of a television show that only lasted one season. The argument revolved around whether or not the main character was adopted. My mom had missed three episodes, and didn’t realize that the reason the parents were so awful to “James” was because they weren’t his parents at all, and were only raising him so that they could spend his real parent’s money that he didn’t yet know about. (There’s a reason it only lasted one season). I had made some smart ass comment about being adopted myself, and this led to a very detailed discussion about episodes one through four and how I didn’t know anything about plot lines, adoption, or what it takes to be a parent. It got pretty heated, and finally, much as my father had done in the past, I gave up and entered into the silent treatment mode, which drove my mother absolutely nuts. The only good thing about being fifteen was that my mother didn’t have much on me in the way of punishment. I didn’t have a car, girlfriend, video games or a pet that she could take away. In a moment of desperation, she remembered that I loved hanging out with my Uncle, and this is where she chose to strike.
“Okay smart alec, you think it’s easy being argued with and then ignored…well then you’re not going to see any snow this year, not one goddamned flake. Do you understand? Not only are you not going to help Jule with the sculptures, you’re not even so much as smelling a drop of winter,” and with that she stormed out of the room.
I didn’t really think much of it at the time. It was early October, and I knew she would cool off after a couple of months. I was wrong.
I’ve mentioned in the past that we weren’t completely loaded, but my mom had some happy money that my Dad gave her to leave him alone. I think it was late November when a special two hour viewing of that particular show came on, and very clearly showed that James was adopted, and that his adopted parents were complete crap. Unfortunately for me, this reminded my mom of our argument, and the “de-snowetizing” of my fifteenth winter began.
At first it was easy for her. She was able to ground me for most of the time, the weather was mild, and any accumulation melted off before I was awake. It wasn’t until the second week of December that it started to get a little crazy. Apparently hot air balloon operators are desperate to earn a some dough before Christmas, and were very happy to sit outside my window during a snow storm, blasting away at the poor little flakes with their large propane flame throwers. The plan was flawed, but even when I did see snow, I didn’t dare tell her about it, lest she prolong the torture. The truth of the matter was that I really missed working on the ice sculptures, and it wasn’t until Uncle Jules interceded that my mother finally relented. That, and the fact that the giant outdoor tent she was having assembled over our back yard was starting to get complaints from the neighbors. You may ask yourself where was my father in all of this? I asked myself the same question and was only told much later that she had tried to pull the same stunt during the second year of their marriage, and he was afraid he was in trouble again. I guess I don’t blame him. I never argued with my mother about another television show, and Uncle Jules bought me a TV for Christmas that year, so that my mother and I didn’t have to watch the same shows. Unfortunately, however, it was too late to help Jules with his ice sculpture business, and I’ll never forgive the little flakes that kept me from being happy during an entire winter.