Like the Weather

As I write this, it's Saturday and the sky is releasing snow like the US Armed Forces dishonorably released homosexual soldiers from duty after World War II: at a furious pace, and without mercy.

I wanted to write something about technology in my column this week, but the weather has been more on my mind than any of the harebrained things I've done with my iPhone.

Remember when "talking about the weather" was code for "innocuous conversation revealing nothing about either person engaged in it?" Those were the days, weren't they, when people could discuss the weather without inciting an argument about what it actually meant for the continued existence of the human race beyond the next few generations?

These days, the weather is threatening to come out ahead of religion and politics when it comes to topics you don't dare bring up in mixed company.

Without taking an ideological stance, let's talk about today's weather event. It started snowing at around 10 o'clock this morning and hasn't stopped yet, at two o'clock this afternoon. When it finally does stop, we'll probably have an accumulation of, I don't know three or four inches? Maybe less.

Thirty-five years ago, this would have been a teaser trailer for what snow was to come. You remember, right? As kids, we would have waited for three or four more inches and, then, we would've been playing in it.

There would have been no joy equal to bundling up and trudging to the top of old Mrs. Dribblybum's hill a hundred times and speeding down it with a couple others on a huge tire's inner tube. Maybe you used one of those sleds with the steel runners and the piece of wood to grasp on the front for "steering." (If so, do you still have all your fingers?)

On a day like this one you would not have been inside watching cartoons on the absolute only time during the week that cartoons were on television. (That's another story for another column.) Even if all you had for sled-riding was a cracked - but screaming-fast - plastic garbage can lid, you would have been flying down old Mr. Crookfinger's hill on it.

If it were a weekday (need I remind anyone my age or older?), a day like today would be watched within the confines of school. Snow days? Oh, they were awesome, but not handed out in the seemingly whimsical way they are, now.

The running joke when I was a kid went something like this: "If the superintendent can back out of his driveway, we'll have school."

Does anyone born after 1994 have memories of walking to the bus stop with snow coming into the tops of knee-high boots? Remember carrying the bag with your dry shoes in it? And the awful burning and itching that made it known that your feet were finally "thawing out"?

The commute to my high school was 17 miles one-way, and I can remember many mornings when the bus driver would stop at the foot of Rush's Hill, attach giant chains to the tires of the bus, and, then, continue his ascent very slowly, like an elevator with ungreased cables.

Had he turned around and taken us back home, our mothers would have been livid, knowing their routine of chain smoking, drinking coffee and watching their "stories" would be interrupted 10 times by their children's whining, "Mom, I'm bored!"

So the real brain-twister is: did we have horrible, uncaring parents and school administrators who were indifferent to the dangers of going to school in bad weather? Or, are the people of my generation who have children, now, just highly excitable and so insistent that the comparatively mild winter weather we endure these days is too rough for their kids to face?

Perhaps "face" is the operative word, if attached to the word "book," forming a single presence louder and more powerful in bending the Board of Education to its will than a hundred petitions and a thousand megaphones.

As a non-parent, I'll admit that I have been known to roll my eyes when I see the online shenanigans of so-called "helicopter parents." More than annoyance, though, I feel astonishment mixed with hopefulness: we're all getting older, and when the rest of my generation of latchkey kids from dysfunctional homes joined me in saying, "I'll never be like my parents," they decided to put their money where their mouth was.

But boy are those parents going to be mad and we'll all hear about it online when they can't schedule their summer trips until the middle of June...