Tuesday , May 28 2024

Winter of Discontent – Baby, It’s Cold Outside (and Inside)

As a life-long New Yorker, I never thought I would say this but “I want out of here.” This is not because of the tourists, the crowded trains, or high cost of living; those are things that I have always accepted and understood. No, the thing that is driving me away is this relentless winter weather. I am numbly cold, mad as hell, and not going to take it anymore – Florida, here I come!

Now I will explain how I have come to this decision. My frustration with this wacky winter of 2018 has reached a breaking point. Only the other day it was a balmy 63 degrees, and I went outside in my T-shirt and took down the Christmas decorations. They had been covered in snow and ice and it all magically melted away. The next day I went out to get the mail – once again wearing a T-shirt – and it felt like I had stepped into Old Man Winter’s living room. This erratic and unpredictable weather is annoying and driving people, including yours truly, crazy.

Global Colding?

At the coffee shop I frequent people keep debating global warming. Some say it is because of global warming that it is so cold, while others say there can be no such thing because these intensely cold days prove otherwise. Since I don’t know enough about the topic, I stay quiet, sip my coffee, and just listen.

As usual, I like to check in with Manny, the former Brooklyn Dodgers fan who at ten years old cried for a week when they packed up and went out to LA. Manny, dressed in Mets cap and bundled in a Jets jacket and matching sweat pants, held the newspaper up in front his face with both hands sporting Knicks gloves.

When I asked him about the weather and global warming, he looked up from the sports page of the NY Post and said, “I don’t have to hear facts and figures from a meteorologist because all I know is that I’m freezing my butt off. Let’s talk about global colding.”

I can always count on Manny for a quotable response. Personally, I leave the debate about global warming to others who know more about it. Whether this extreme cold is due to global warming or not, all I know is that Jack Frost isn’t just nipping at my nose; he’s trying to bite the whole thing off.

Cold House Problems

The other day when I came home my wife and kids all had on their scarves, hats, and heavy sweaters to beat the cold, but the problem was that they were sitting inside our house. We have made it through cold New York winters before, but this is the first time I can remember being so cold inside the house.

In normal times I like to keep the thermostat at the recommended levels – 56 degrees at night and 68 degrees during the day – but it has been impossible to comply with these guidelines this year. We are all cold and my wife keeps telling me “the kids are shivering,” so I put the thermostat up to 70 degrees but that didn’t help. Even when pushed up to 73 degrees, it felt cold in the house and, despite pumping radiators, the temperature in the living room still remained at 68 degrees.

Temperature Variations

Eventually the living room achieved a 73-degree reading, but that was only in that room where the thermostat is located. Other rooms in the house registered different temperatures. The kitchen was 70 degrees but felt colder. It was a relatively balmy 67 degrees in my son’s room, but it still felt slightly cold in there as we heard the wind whipping against the side of the house, while the upstairs bathroom came in at 63.7 degrees with the outside temperature at 17.6 degrees.

The attic, which is finished and functions as my son’s playroom, is officially the coldest room in the house with a 57-degree temperature. The warmest area is the basement where the furnace is located. The finished area was 75 degrees, so it is not surprising that everyone decided to go down there to watch TV.

Even with the thermostat set to 73 degrees, various sections of the house remained cooler, making a heavy robe or sweater necessary. I started to envy Ebenezer Scrooge’s bed curtains and wondered if they would make a difference at night if we had them.


It has snowed so many times already this winter, that I am on a first name basis with my shovel. I call him Norton – in honor of the lovable but annoying character on The Honeymooners played by the late great Art Carney – and every time it snows I say, “Here we go again, Norton!”

The last snow storm dumped 15 inches of the white stuff on our area, and the snow didn’t stop falling until like 5 p.m. At that point it was getting dark and extremely cold, and my son wanted to build a snowman, but the conditions were truly painful. I told him that we had to wait and would do it in the morning. Grabbing Norton, I had to go out into the arctic cold night and shovel away. I have never liked shoveling snow, but this year I have grown to hate it because even bundled in layers and wearing gloves I was freezing.

The next morning brilliant sunshine fooled us into thinking the snow would melt, but it was 9 degrees outside and the snow in the yard had turned to ice, making it impossible to build a snowman. Grrr!!!

Frozen Pipes

The next problem we had was frozen cold-water pipes. Both the powder room sink and the kitchen sink’s lines froze. Unfortunately, both lines run close to an exterior wall and get blocked if the temperature falls below 20 degrees outside. Using my daughter’s hairdryer, I heated both pipes and now they are flowing again. A friend who is a plumber told me to keep the cold water dripping slightly to stop the pipes from freezing up again, so now we have water dripping in both sinks and that will slowly cost us more money, but it is better than having busted pipes and a flooded basement.

The Solution

After being cold to the bone and then feeling like the bone is frozen too, I realized that this will never get better. Over the last five years each winter seems to have gotten progressively harsher and piercingly colder. It is like Old Man Winter is torturing us, and I must say he is succeeding beyond even his pernicious expectations.

I don’t like extremely hot weather either, but there are ways to cool off and they seem much easier than trying to stay warm. There is something quite overwhelming about trying to stay warm, and wearing multiple layers used to give me some respite from the cold, but it doesn’t seem to work this year, and wearing multiple layers is extremely uncomfortable and can limit movement. Oh, and boots – I hate boots.

So, after deliberation and discussion with the family, we have decided that it is time to start the process of getting out of this iceberg. We will be moving south – as far south as possible. I don’t care about the alligators and the hurricanes and the intense summer heat. As long as I can wear shorts all year long and never have to touch a snow shovel again (bye, bye, Norton), everything will be just fine, but damn it, I’m going to miss Manny.

About Victor Lana

Victor Lana's stories, articles, and poems have been published in literary magazines and online. His new novel, 'Unicorn: A Love Story,' is available as an e-book and in print.

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