415. No Warm, No Sun, No Cry


It’s pretty simple:  if the sun is shining on your southward smiling pale face without a wind stinging your cheeks, well, that’s a good winter day in Central PA. If not, then you’re screwed. On days like today, the sky starts out as an endless limestone wall obscuring the feeble December sun that, like an old lost farmer, can’t find a break way through. Sleet pellets titter tatter on hard surfaces. You might think it’s birdseed being scattered for invisible birds since the visible ones are hunkered down for the day. Why fly through frozen bird shot if you have a choice? Then icy rain falls straight down on your head and neck, stealing precious body heat with each frigid drip. Drizzle fragments the wet world outside. “Pass the wodka, please, Feyodor. And tell me, please my longest and bestest friend, vaht is de meaning of dis meezerable life?”

The neatest neighborhoods puddle and sulk. Colors surrender to black and a thousand shades of slate. Trash bins seem like tragic refugees abandoned at the curbside. “The high for today is 39 degrees Fahrenheit”, says the turtle necked weather man, about the temperature where I like my beer. Any colder hurts my teeth. If you fell overboard into 39 degree F. beer or water, you’d be dead in minutes from hypothermia. Ironically if it were 10 degrees colder you could safely walk on that same beer or water. Tricky liquids change to solids as they yield up their heat. Humans do too. Ice mummies, anyone? They make great lawn ornaments in winter and special wolf treats in the Siberian spring.

There is no point in arguing with the weather, though. You can never win. I can, however, describe the weather in shiny whiny words. The only way I can justify such infantile verbiage is to rave about lovely days, which I do. I have tried to be fair to weather that is glorious or gloomy. My meteorological homages are not slanted either way, as long time readers of the blog will readily attest. An informal survey shows seven negative weather reports and nine positive ones. Counting this one in the whiny column brings the totals to 8 vs 9. Pretty darn close to even in the electrical college if not the popular vote. In any event the bleak calls out for bleak echoes back as if from the far off Ural Mountains.

Tom Waits is still alive, so he can sing the soundtrack for my melancholy day. “The Heart of Saturday Night” is an old favorite of mine. This year Leonard Cohen passed on to the Dead Legends of Music Hall of Fame. Leon Russell too. I’m running out of living cool old men to sing the blues, which makes the rain messier or are those tears? As I scan my Pandora shuffle, I realize most of my faves are deceased. What am I to think? Wonder what Tom Waits thinks. It’s a bloody rotten curse. Your heroes shrivel up and die. We are left with their unfinished wine and ashes. “Feyodor. More wodka.”

I read long ago that the air we breathe was once breathed by the ancient Romans and Greeks. It has simply recycled over and over again as folks die and decompose. Same with water. It’s all used. Truly there is nothing new under the sun. We just like to think we’re getting new air and water and food when in fact several molecules of the asparagus you ate last night once belonged to a mackerel’s dorsal fin. The chewy bottom end. Stuff breaks down and builds up again in new structures. That’s all. And there you are sucking coconut milk with traces of extinct triceratops through a straw that Gandhi once used. Sort of depressing if  you’re stuck inside on a rainy PA day listening to dead Blues players moaning about their special problems and difficulties. Still, it is comforting like a 12 step program can be during story time, and you realize that we are all in it together and no one gets out alive.

“What is the point, Feyodor?”


“My good friend Vladimir, no point there is. We live, we work, we drink, we die. That is all. Vanity, vanity. No more. Pass vodka back.”


“Surely, surely then, there must be some reason for our pathetic lives.”


“Nostrovia. Yes, ve live to die. No vone can die unless you have leeved. It’s de rules. Ask your voman.”


“But in between de birth and de death, Comrade, is not something like meaning, Feyodor, or purpose?”


“No, only wodka.”

“Then why we bother so with thees relentless drudgery? ”


“To keep our wives happy.”


“But they cannot be happy with such meaningless existence either, surely say so.”


“No, Vlad. Many wives enjoy vatching their husbands slowly expire in deepest misery. This gives dem purpose and a sense of beink in kontrol. So they can say, ‘See, I told you so, but you vouldn’t leesen!'”


“Dat is awful, Feyd. You are not telling me drunk joke, no?”


“No, Comrade, is truth.”


“So why do ve marry then?”


“Is simple:  marriage keeps our sodden minds off meaninglessness of our sodden lives, like de vet keeps your mind off of de cold.”


“Dat is very deep excrement, my friend. But so dark.”


“You vant breath mints instead? Go to Val Mart next to kiddie vitamins, Vlad. Maybe buy some Smurf Cough Syrup too while you are dere in pharmacy aisle.”


“How do you keep going into this pointless existence, Feyd? Tell me. Like pilot in thunderstorm.”

“Vlad, I search for finest wodka and roll in the deep Nostrovia.”

“Ah, Nostrovia, the reever of dreams!! My grandma Bebe Abuela spoke of thees mystical reever.”

“Yes. Pushkin said its vaters vere 200 proof. You could drink it or light it with match and smoke it. Like fracking vater in coal country.”

“Vell, to dystopia, my dearest comrade.”



“Life is full wodka bottle. Death is empty vone.”

“You are vise man, Feyd, but very depressing vone.”

“Yah, true. Put on the Tomas Vaits record again, Vlad.  And ve vill cruise for de heart of Saturday night, okay?”





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