Okay, I’d had enough. Really. Mild weather is nice, but this was getting ridiculous. Here it was, December and I was still wearing tired summer t-shirts and Capri pants. They were cute in May, but now they were faded and stained with margarita mix, cheese whiz and barbecue sauce from pool parties long past. I was more than ready to retire them, but couldn’t because once again, the forecast was for another record high.
"Might hit the 70’s!” the pregnant TV meteorologist exclaimed with glee.
I wanted to pummel her. And why are TV meteorologists always pregnant?
It’s not like I actually enjoy cold weather. Witness my trip to Alaska this past July, where every single picture depicts me as the Michelin Man, bundled in quadruple layers underneath my fur-lined parka. Only my eyes blinking “I am FREEZING” in Morse code are visible above the scarf that is wrapped up to my nose.
The temperature was 51 degrees.
And yet, in spite of being a native Californian and therefore a weather wimp, I embrace the iconic image of a Norman Rockwell winter: arctic winds, sub-zero temperatures, breath-taking ice storms and cozy snow days. I dream of donning festive scarves, cute caps and plush turtleneck sweaters. Watching house lights twinkle through the fog, ice skating on a nearby frozen lake and afterwards, sipping hot cocoa by a roaring fire or maybe stretched across the sofa, wrapped in a chenille blanket and enjoying a Gene Kelly marathon on AMC, snug as a bug while winter winds raged outside.
So optimist that I am, when autumn leaves began to fall, I hoped that California’s version of winter weather was right around the corner. I stocked up on hot cocoa, canned soup and scented candles. I replaced my cotton bed sheets with flannel ones, added an extra blanket and programmed my heater to kick on at 68 degrees. Happily, I resumed wearing my beloved winter jammies, the snuggly flannel ones that feel like clouds, even though my friend Dennis refers to them as “sex-repellant.”
My bedroom felt like a Finnish sauna. Nights were spent tossing and turning, spastically rolling around on flannel sheets that felt more like scratchy baking sheets straight from a 500 degree oven. I fanned across my bed, desperately seeking a cool spot while simultaneously ripping off the suffocating flannel strait jacket that I swear was emitting electrical currents throughout my body. Where did I get these jammies anyway, the gift shop at Guantánamo Bay?
Days were no better. Oh sure, mornings would start out cool, foggy even, giving the false illusion of a real winter. And of course I would think, “Ha! Just goes to show what that pregnant meteorologist knows!” One morning it was even chilly enough to warrant wearing my luscious turtleneck, accessorized with the new scarf I‘d been eager to wear. And I felt so Vermont-ish and stylish and cute as I strolled over to Starbucks with my greyhound, Elvis, who was decked out in his own fleece-lined coat. We sat outside where I sipped my favorite winter beverage, a steaming peppermint mocha, while Elvis solicited affection from passing dog-lovers.
But all too soon the fog burned off and I found myself sweltering in the torturous vise of my turtleneck as people walked by in jogging shorts, halter tops and flip-flops. I couldn't enjoy my peppermint mocha, made salty by the sweat dripping off my brow, and even my gentle Elvis had this scowl on his face that said, “Remove the coat NOW or I go for the jugular.” Before I knew it, I was tossing my unfinished drink in the trash and we were both racing back home to rip off our winter gear before one of us suffered a heat stroke.
Ah, but this week my wish has finally been granted: California’s version of winter has arrived. Brisk and windy eye-watering, nose-running days have been in the low 50’s and frost-covered nights have dipped into the unthinkable 20’s, providing the perfect excuse to don my beloved winter fashions. I am ensconced in multiple layers of camisoles and cardigans. I am swaddled in a plethora of sweaters and scarves. I am cloaked. I am protected. I am prepared.
I am freezing. And longing for the t-shirt days of record highs as forecast by pregnant meteorologists.