And in another shocking Chicago development: It’s cold.
The once-or-twice-in-a-decade kind of cold that puts a spring in a weathercaster’s step and the words “polar vortex” on the average person’s tongue.
“It’s legit,” a weather expert told the Tribune. “It’s not hype. It’s the real thing.”
In other words, it’s the kind of cold that must be taken seriously, which is why today we offer this eight-point winter code of conduct.
- Do not complain to friends in warm places that you are sick of this bleepin’ weather.
It’s OK to complain to other Chicagoans, but never complain to Sun Belt friends and relatives who pretend to be concerned for your welfare. They are not concerned. They’re gloating.
When they say, “Are you miserable, you poor thing?” they mean, “I’m at the pool with a margarita, sucker.”
Don’t complain to New Yorkers either. They make themselves feel better about their nasty winters by imagining Chicago’s are worse. They send us texts -- truly, I just got this one -- saying things like, “How you holding up with the brrrrrr?” Refusing to give this friend the satisfaction of his weather superiority, I texted back, “Oh, it’s not that cold.”
Call it the aldermanic code of Chicago winter talk. What goes on in the family should stay in the family.
- Do not go sockless.
Yes, that’s you, with the cute ankle boots and the cute pants that you insist on wearing sans socks when your skin could freeze faster than you can say frostbite. Seriously. Not today. A Chicago winter is not made for cute.
This goes for you, too, guy with the sockless loafers.
- Do not race for the bus or train on an outdoor street or platform.
Take a deep, cleansing breath and ask yourself: Which is better? To miss your train? Or to spend the next six weeks in a cast because you slipped on the ice?
Remember: The next train will arrive much sooner than your wrist will heal.
- Do not be a shovel shirker.
I know you’re out there. How? Because I’ve been one.
You’re the slug who stays indoors until you hear your neighbor outside shoveling the steps and walk. When, at last, you can tell the work is done, you go outside and pretend to be surprised.
“Oh, I was just about to do that!” you say.
Unless you have heated sidewalks, are incapable of shoveling or are rich enough to hire help, shovel your share.
- Do not talk about the polar vortex unless you’re sure what it is.
I wasn’t sure either, so I Googled it.
“The polar vortex,” says the National Weather Service’s website, “is a large area of low pressure and cold air surrounding both of the Earth’s poles. It ALWAYS exists near the poles, but weakens in summer and strengthens in winter. The term ‘vortex’ refers to the counter-clockwise flow of air that helps keep the colder air near the (p)oles. Many times during winter in the northern hemisphere, the polar vortex will expand, sending cold air southward with the jet stream.”
The NWS notes that though the term is in vogue, the phenomenon is not new, and that there is no cause for alarm.
“But,” it adds, “you should be prepared for colder temperatures.”
- Do not eat all the junk food you bought in the name of being prepared for colder temperatures.
Just because you’ve heard that your body burns more calories when you’re cold doesn’t mean you should eat the entire bag of Cheetos or mini-Snickers in a single sitting.
And remember that alcohol is no less alcoholic just because you’ve warmed it up and called it “Irish.”
- Don’t leave doors open in public places.
The train station. The Starbucks. For the love of humanity, close them.
And remember: Winter is why God invented the revolving door.
- Do not announce, “I’m moving out of Chicago because I can’t take this bleepin’ winter anymore.”
Don’t trust your desire to flee until at least June. Summer will come. You’ll remember that in summer there’s no better city in the world. You’ll tell yourself, once again, that the polar vortex was just nature’s way of sorting the real Chicagoans from the phonies.