@loripalminteriTweets by @loripalminteri
Ice Cold Beers In The Snow
The wind pushed bare branches to the window panes above my bed, re-telling stories of winter. The falling snow, admittedly, twinkled in the street light and I felt a brief sense of awe before feeling the dread of shoveling and dig, dig, digging my car out of snow.
For us in New York, it was more snow than we’d seen in a year. And while 2020 has an endless list of happenings to shake your head at, in the North East, at least, we had a pleasant year weather-wise. Except on this day. This day when we were getting a blanket of snow.
My colored Christmas Lights hugged the window, my little tiny tree seemed to have a soft glow as I snuggled under sheets, a bit stoned, warm, happy in the meantime, despite the dread of leaving the house.
My neighbor and landlord’s grandson was out of town, I knew. He usually tends to shoveling and handy man issues. But without him here, I felt I was master of house. I was unsure if my landlady was upstairs in her apartment, or with her daughter. But I couldn’t and wouldn’t allow an un-shoveled walkway… what if there was an emergency?
The following day I borrowed their shovel to clear the steps, walk, and some of the driveway. I made two channels into the street (people have a tendency of throwing snow in the street, but this drives me crazy, because then the plows come and get your car buried further, so I go around making tidy piles and channels to the street in hopes the neighborhood will take my lead on my much more effective way of shoveling snow). It took close to an hour to dig my car out. However, it takes me so long because I do so very meticulously. My snow never gets thrown in the street. I make piles. I make calculated piles.
This snow shoveling neurosis is at the fault of my parents. Dad worked for the LIRR. During snow storms he worked long overtime days, shoveling the railroad platforms free of snow. So Dad had a pretty strict and particular method of shoveling snow. My Mom is more or less equal in her OCD tendencies and they tended to fuel the other when it came to things being just right.
So, sometimes, Dad was working during big storms and we had the house. Our Long Island home had a large driveway. I guess it was technically a five car driveway, where all of our cars once fit (albeit at least 2 cars were always trapped which was also a point of controversy in our house). But there would be days where sometimes both of our parents would be outside before 9am, when I’d get up for breakfast, to come in and scold us for not shoveling.
“I will shovel, but it’s 9am. What’s the rush?”
“What’s the rush? What’s the rush? It will turn into ice and then be harder to shovel!”
“Well, I’ll do the rest after breakfast.”
“Sure, you’ll do the rest when it’s almost done!”
It wasn’t until my Dad’s later years when he’d stop rushing outside. I’d find him sipping coffee after 9am at the table, watching the news.
“You haven’t gone outside to shovel yet?”
“No, why would I rush out there? It’s not going anywhere.”
It’s a moment I wish I could record and show to his younger self, when he poo-poo’ed my sleeping in on a snow day logic.
By contrast, I sometimes shoveled very late at night while the snow was falling. I did this because I liked how quiet the block got, and how it felt like just me in this winter wonderland. Additionally, I’d smoke a joint in the driveway, hiding behind one of our cars while listening to music on my iPod. It was then I’d shovel. It’d shovel the stairs, the walk, the driveway, clear the cars, move the snow when the plow blocked our driveway, took care of the back deck. It was good exercise and it relaxed me in some way.
During the day, especially when my Dad came around to not waking up at the crack of dawn to shovel, we’d go out as a little family team. I don’t remember Lisa shoveling that much, but maybe she was already moved out. I remember Lisa raking a lot of leaves (which I hated even more than shoveling snow) in the Fall but I don’t really recall her shoveling that much. Lisa was the best at making snowmen out of the three of us though. Mitch did help, but he often slept very late so he’d be the last one out. Even I scolded at Mitch a couple times for not getting up sooner.
I didn’t look forward to shoveling. But I did hook up my iPod to a speaker on the garage, took beers from the fridge and put them in the snow. I’d pop the cap off, and even if I were underaged, I don’t think my parents really cared since I wouldn’t be driving anywhere and as long as I was shoveling it didn’t matter if I was buzzed. So I’d booze and shovel, and also, dance. I’d dance, and sing, use the shovel as a guitar when cars drove by and hold my beer up to toast them and they’d look at me like “what the fuck?!” I like to think the neighborhood found us all odd. In reality, I was shoveling snow. In my brain, I was a guitarist for a rock and roll band on tour. And just like that I could detach my brain from the task and be eloped in music, gone into my own head. Until the driveway was clear.
In this last snow storm, I went out for a second time to check on my work. My car still looked great and snow free. The walk got a little messed up, so I cleaned it the best I could. I perfected my channels to the street that got messed up by the plows. I even cleared a bunch of snow off the car parked in front of my house. It wasn’t completely for altruistic reasons. I figured, most likely, whoever’s car that was (that was deeply plowed in with snow) would ruin my channels and just throw snow all around. I also thought it a nice Christmas surprise for a stranger if half his/her car was half dug out. Also, maybe then they’d obey the pile/channel I created. So I began to work on it. And I was moving the snow from the street to my piles (further accentuating the channels from the sidewalk to the street).
A neighbor came out to put her garbage pails on my channel (which is okay, that’s part of the reason I made the channels). “You know,” she said, “I usually just throw the snow in the street, it melts faster there.”
I was a little annoyed and wanted to explain how snow plows work and why I was making neat piles and channels but I didn’t feel like talking to her for that long. “I like to make piles,” I said.
“Well,” she said, kind of confused, but in her defense I didn’t give her much to work with, “I’m sorry about your car,” she pointed to the car buried in front of my house that I was digging out.
“Oh, this isn’t my car, my car is down the street. I don’t know who’s car this is.”
Then she really gave me a look like, what kind of a psycho digs out a buried car of an owner they don’t know?
Lady, the worst kind of psycho— the one that doesn’t ask for money or credit, just blogs about it to a small cult following.
“It’s good exercise, I guess,” and then she turned around and went inside.
I suppose, if there’s anything you can take away from this here anecdote… is sometimes it pays to be drunk and/or high when you’re doing chores. It makes it more enjoyable for you… so much more enjoyable, that you may even find yourself jamming to a good tune and you’re not ready to call it quits, so you pay forward a good deed to someone you’ll never know, and just hope that maybe one day they’ll do the same.