It’s a beautiful day in Arlington Heights with overcast skies and temperatures in the low 20s and clumps of snow dropping from the trees as a light breeze blows past my office window.
It’s winter. It’s Chicago. That’s what we do here.
Or, maybe, it’s what we used to do when we were really Chicagoans. Now, it seems, everyone I meet is a weather wimp. Great big SISSIES (one of my favorite words this year) who whine when the temperature drops below 40 and spend most of Thanksgiving talking about what a tough winter we’ve had—when the solstice is still four weeks away.
Wimps. Sissies. Whiners. Woebabies. We’re five days into winter and I’m tired of all of you already. I can’t wait until the temperature drops below zero and the banshee wailing fills the night skies. Or would, if all you wimps weren’t hiding under your blankets by then.
Clearly, some of us—and you know who you are—have lost the spirit and drive and toughness that made this country great. Clearly, it’s time to lay down the law to all of you weather wimps about how to behave over the next 19 weeks until Chicago winter officially ends on May 15.
- Grow a pair. John Wayne never complained about getting shot. We don’t complain about getting cold. If we’re walking down the street and we see someone we know and it’s at least five below zero, we can nod and smile—assuming it won’t cause our lips to crack wide open—in our shared appreciation of our toughness. Otherwise, we’re strong, silent types.
- No talking about the wind chill. Yeah, the wind cools our skin faster, but that’s why God invented gloves. People who cite the wind chill are just pleading for sympathy. Yes, it’s 35 today, but the wind chill makes it feel like 31. Oooh. Poor me!!! Frickin’ embarrassing.
- No climate envy. People in the burbs can’t complain to people in the city that it’s colder in Bannockburn or Schaumburg or even Waukegan. And we absolutely don’t complain to friends in Arizona or Florida, or even St. Louis, that we wish we were with them in warmer climes. Cold is no big deal to us. It happens. We deal with it. We don’t complain and we don’t brag about it, because we’re just too tough and too cool to care. And who the hell wants to live in St. Louis, anyway?
- No lake effect. They can talk about the lake effect in Buffalo, where there is one, but not here. That’s because the wind almost never comes off the lake, WHICH IS EAST OF US, and almost everyone in the Chicago area is too far from the lake to feel it when it happens. Unless you’re east of Michigan Avenue or, on a really bad day, Clark, the lake effect is as mythical as a bipartisan Congress. And BTW, the lake actually has a warming effect in the winter.
- No fashion tips. It’s cold. We dress warmly. We’re not looking for hip, trendy jackets with side vents or kicky plastic heels that melt on a salted sidewalk. Sorry, Giorgio, but there’s only one rule for winter clothing: it if keeps you warm, it’s fashionable. We’re survivors, not a bunch of fops from some catalog.
- No shelter. The cold is only relevant during those minutes we’re out of the house and not in a heated car or bus or our private jets. That’s about 20 minutes a day, tops, and it usually takes more time to wrap ourselves up than we actually spend exposed to the elements. No true Chicagoan ever, ever, ever stays home because it’s TOO COLD to go somewhere.
- No Excuses. Unlike you, that homeless guy is standing in the cold all day. Taking your hand out of your glove so you can grab a buck out of your pocket takes about 11 seconds. Don’t worry. You won’t freeze to death in the process.
- No ingratitude. Have you noticed how the sun is setting later and later over the past five days? Are you counting up the savings as the snow layer on your roof adds insulation to your home? Are you enjoying the serenity as all the weather wimps stay home and avoid clogging up the roads and restaurants? Do you appreciate the way Chicago winters keep people from moving here, so we can keep Chicago summers all to ourselves? Winter here is a gift, so be grateful.
- No enabling. When a weather wimp starts prattling about wind chills and snow and having to dress in “layers,” don’t encourage him. Simply say, “Yeah, it gets cold in winter,” or “But this is a heat wave compared to Minneapolis,” or, if absolutely necessary a simple STFU is acceptable.
- What? I’m David Letterman or Moses and there have to be ten rules here? I’m fine with nine and every real Chicagoan is okay with it as well.
Unfortunately, medical science has yet to find a cure for weather wimpitis. By following these rules, however, you can save yourself from becoming a victim. You’re welcome.