SLIGHTLY OFF THE MARK

 

            There’s one thing more suspicious than a list of suggestions from the internet, and that’s a list of suggestions punctuated by exclamation points. For some reason, it makes me think of snake oil salesmen, explaining why you have to buy their stuff “right now!”

            “I’ll only be here for one day! This miracle liquid, imported from the mysterious Indian continent, cures scurvy, boils, and black lung, and can also be used to wax your wagon and kill weeds!”

            Still, when someone makes suggestions for how to survive winter, I’m listening.

            Everybody knows how I feel about winter. If I won the lottery, I’d immediately buy a winter home in Hawaii. If the payout wasn’t enough for two homes, I’d move to a place where it never snows. If I won a small lottery, I’d at least crank up the heat and hire someone else to do anything involving going outside. Those would be my first priorities.

            Maybe I should buy a ticket, someday.

            But I don’t buy lottery tickets, and so am left cold, miserable, and looking for any relief. These are the conditions that lead people to watch infomercials, and call 800 numbers at 3 a.m. Or, in my case, to read ideas from strangers with a stuck exclamation point on their keyboard. Here are the helpful hints for winter that I got from that most reliable of sources, the internet:

            “Keep your headlights clear with car wax!”

            (See what I mean about the punctuation?)

            “Just wipe ordinary car wax on your headlights. It contains special water repellents that will prevent that messy mixture from accumulating on your lights.”

            Or, you could leave your car in the garage. Or drive south. Beach combing in Florida is a vastly underrated profession.

            I tried coating myself with car wax, and it didn’t make me feel better about winter at all. Maybe I should have gone for the hot wax treatment.

            “Ice-proof your windows with vinegar! Just fill a spray bottle with three parts vinegar to one part water and spritz it on your windows at night. In the morning they’ll be clear of icy mess.”

            Or … garage. Or here’s an idea: Let your car warm up for, say, an hour or so before you get in it, which will solve all sorts of problems not related to oil prices and air pollution. Defrosted windows, warm car, all ready for your trip to Florida. When you get there, sell your car. Why come back north? Then you won’t have to worry about windows or, say, car doors.

            “Prevent car doors from freezing shut with cooking spray!”

            What did I just say?

            (I assume they mean use cooking spray to keep doors from freezing, rather than the spray actually freezing the door shut. When I read that sentence a second time my basic grammar kicked in – too bad that doesn’t happen when I review my own writing.)

            “Spritz cooking oil on the rubber seals around car doors and rub it in with a paper towel. The cooking spray prevents water from melting into the rubber.”

            In other words, baste your car. They’re really a fan of spritzing, these people.

            Here’s a better idea: Spritz cooking oil on yourself. Preheat your oven to 110 degrees. Then climb inside.

            “Fog-proof your windshield with shaving cream!”

            An old Halloween prank, put to good use.

            “Spray some shaving cream on the inside of your windshield and wipe it off with paper towels. Shaving cream has many of the same ingredients found in commercial defoggers.”

            I don’t know what that says about shaving cream. If I rubbed it on my head, do you think it would help solve my occasional problems with brain fog?

            “De-ice your lock in seconds with hand sanitizer! Just put some hand sanitizer gel on the key and the lock, and the problem’s solved!”

            Wow. Two exclamation points! That must be particularly effective! Or you could try buying some lock deicer beforehand. After all, you’re going to need that hand sanitizer: It’s cold and flu season.

            Want to know the real problem? The real problem is that my ancestors came ashore in North Carolina, then moved to Tennessee, then moved to Kentucky, then moved to Ohio, then moved to northern Indiana. Only with my generation did this mad rush north finally stop.

            It’s time to head back south. What was wrong with equatorial Africa to begin with, anyway? Sure, we’d occasionally get eaten by lions, but it never snowed. It’s a trade-off.

            Here’s one last suggestion from this brilliant, anonymous, and surely foolproof list:

            “Squeak-proof your wipers with rubbing alcohol! Wipe with a cloth saturated with rubbing alcohol or ammonia. This one trick can make badly streaking and squeaking wipers change to near perfect silence and clarity.”

            I had a moment of clarity when I realized I could spend my money on another type of alcohol, and make it through winter in a haze of vodka flavored antifreeze.

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Tags: era, mark, new, off, slightly, the, weather

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