Dear “Sir” …

The e-mail looked like everyday spam at first glance.  Maybe that’s why it annoyed me. 

“We are pleased to announce that based on a thorough review of your previous academic and professional records; the Board at Global Journal Consultants (GJC) has directly approved you as a ‘Published Author,’” the e-mail said.

 A few things in that paragraph fascinated me.  First, it’s not up to a group to declare who’s a published author; the actual act of publishing does that.  Secondly, why was “Published Author” in quotation marks?  It’s like having Donald Trump declare something about you with tiny air quotes.  And does a group have the authority to award writing titles when it doesn’t know how to properly use a semicolon?

 The e-mail continued: “For a limited time period ending October 31st 2016; GJC has allocated 10 Exclusive Published Author Spots for the top 3% exceptional individuals who will be allowed to bypass the ‘Interview Requirement’ and directly qualify as a published author.”

 Well, there’s that semicolon problem again as well as the Trumpian air quotes.  At least they’re consistent with their mistakes.  They’re also consistent with spending the rest of the e-mail trying to persuade me that I’d benefit by attending their seminar.  My favorite benefit was that GJC’s endorsement allowed me to “use your published author title of ‘Sir’ on your CV or otherwise.”

 Yep.  Sir.  Forget all that business about doing something heroic and the queen tapping your shoulders with a sword; it turns out that GJC hands out the title without all the fuss.

 Then the e-mail got to the call to action: “Since you have officially been conferred the ‘Published Author’ status, you are required to reply back to this e-mail with the following: Full Name, Cell Number with the best time to contact you, and updated CV or resume.”  If not, my spot in the seminar would go to someone else.  (Well, shucks.)

I know that attention increases behavior, so I normally ignore these e-mails.  But this one was different; it annoyed me more than most because of its blatant attempt to prey on aspiring writers’ dreams and desperation.  (For anyone from GJC that might read this blog post, that’s how you use a semicolon.)  So I responded with an e-mail that honored the dignity of their generous offer.

“Dear Mark,

“Thanks for declaring that I’m a published author.  I was worried that writing for Sports Illustrated, Boys Life, and Sport Magazine as well as writing 12 published children’s books didn’t quite qualify me for the title.  That’s a load of worry that I no longer need to carry.

 “Sincerely,

“Sir Carl Grody.”

Now that I think about it, though, maybe I didn’t do enough to show my gratitude.  A tangible gift was necessary, perhaps?  I’m considering a copy of The Elements of Style by Strunk & White (with the page regarding semicolons highlighted.)

 

 (C.W. Grody has sold hundreds of articles to national publications.  He’s sold 12 nonfiction books for children, and he’s also published a humorous book about his childhood, Since Before You Were Born, which you can find here: https://www.amazon.com/Since-Before-You-Were-Born-ebook/dp/B00EHT3B5G.)

 

Stinkin’ Heater

I’ve woken up to a lot of bad smells.

Now, that’s no comment on the lovely woman who joins me in cohabitation. But there have been plenty of odors in my life – the cement plant behind my house when I was a kid, the diaper pail when I was Mr. Mom, even the smell of chemicals when the city sprays for mosquitoes overnight. But this smell …

It could best be described as rich.

I’m a deep sleeper. It’s as hard to drag me out of sleep as it might be to wake a college kid home for Christmas break. But this odor hit my nose just right, and with just the right amount of clinging stench.

It smelled like a skunk. But how could it be? I was inside. The doors were locked. It was winter, so the windows were closed. And the smell seemed to be coming from the heating vent.

I shook my head, rubbed my eyes, and leaned closer to the vent. My eyes started burning.

Oh, yeah. Skunk.

About that time, the lovely woman who joins me in cohabitation stared at me and said, “What did you eat?”

“It wasn’t me,” I said. “It’s the heater.”

She tried to arch an eyebrow. “I’ve heard it called a lot of things, but never ‘the heater.’”

I pointed at the offending vent. “Check it out for yourself.”

About that time, my youngest daughter, who’s in college but should still be five years old, wandered into the room and said, “Hey, my room smells like a skunk.”

“See? It’s not me.” I may have added a self-satisfied, “Humph.”

“OK,” said the lovely woman who joins me in cohabitation. “Then what’s causing it?”

We all just stood there and tried not to breathe too deeply. The smell was thickening.
The one who should still be five said, “Could it be some kind of gas?”

The lovely woman who joins me in cohabitation glanced at me again and tried to arch her other eyebrow. She failed.

“Well, it is a gas heater, but gas doesn’t smell like that,” I said, gasping slightly. “Nothing does.”

“Carbon dioxide?” asked the lovely woman who joins me in cohabitation.

“I think carbon dioxide is odorless,” I said, gagging a little more. It was like a solar flare, only with stink. “But you can’t be too sure.”

I grabbed my phone and starting checking the internet for possible causes of a skunk smell in your heater. It turned out that the source could be a skunk outside your open window. Or trolling in your basement. Or actually inside your heater.

How was I supposed to check that? I’m not even sure where the pilot light is.

“Maybe we should look outside,” said the lovely woman who joins me in cohabitation. “We did put out the trash and recycling tonight.”

So we checked outside. We live in a lovely, older, two-story townhouse with about seven neighbors spread over two buildings, and the smell smacked us upside the head. Oddly, though, it smelled just as bad inside the townhouse.

“How could it smell that bad inside, too?” I asked. “Do you think the skunk’s really in our furnace?”

The one who should be five rolled her eyes at me. “How would the smell get outside, Dad?”

“I don’t know. How did it get in?”

Then I noticed that the lovely woman who joins me in cohabitation was missing. She was either off investigating, or the smell melted her into a puddle of goo.

Now, there’s something you need to understand about her. She loves animals. Not in the, “Oh, look, the puppy is cute!” kind of way. She’s hard core. Her favorite place is the zoo. She talks to the animals like they’re dear friends. Online, she watches live camera links to bears in the wild, puppies being born and raised, pandas shoving each other off platforms, and countless other cameras that run the gamut of the animal kingdom. You might even classify her as nature’s stalker. So if she actually saw a skunk, she’d be tempted to hug it, squeeze it, and name it.

But while there was no sign of the lovely woman who joins me in cohabitation, there was still the clinging odor of a really pissed-off skunk.

“This smell brings back memories,” I said.

“Come on, Dad, your biscuits aren’t that bad,” said the one who should be five.

“I’m not talking about my biscuits,” I said. “I’m talking about a camping trip when I was a kid. There was an animal sniffing around our tent, so my dad decided to play hero and go check it out. Mom tried to stop him, but there was no reasoning with him.”

“That apple didn’t fall far from the tree,” muttered the one who should be five.

I decided to ignore that. “Predictably, the animal was a skunk, and Dad decided that he should scare it away. So he yelled at it, and it sprayed at him, and then he yelled again. Direct hit.” I shook my head. “He got pretty made when Mom wouldn’t let him back in the tent.”

That’s when the lovely woman who joins me in cohabitation hurried around the corner.

“I saw them!” she said, scurrying past.

“Them? What do you mean by, ‘Them?’” I asked. “And where are you going?”

“They’re by the trash,” she called over her shoulder. “Someone left a couple of bags on the ground, and they’re tearing through them. I want to get a closer look!”

And then she was gone around another corner. It was like my Dad all over again.

The one who should be five sighed. “So, is it tomato juice that we’ll need to get the smell off of her?”

“Could be,” I said as we headed back inside. “I can look it up on my phone. In the meantime, you should probably lock the door.”

(C.W. Grody is the author of 13 books. His latest book, Since Before You Were Born, is a collection of humorous stories based on his childhood. It’s available here: http://www.amazon.com/Since-Before-You-Were-Born-ebook/dp/B00EHT3B5G. He’s also published hundreds of articles in national magazines, including Sports Illustrated, Sport, and Boys Life.)

Spiders on a Shingle

Spiders are our friends. They eat other insects. They were good guys in Charlotte’s Web. But that doesn’t mean I want to live with them, especially when they’re poisonous and breeding faster than Amish rabbits.

I moved into a duplex sight unseen when I arrived in Columbus during the winter of 2000. Everything was fine for six months. But in early July, I came home to find our duplex deserted and a plastic container on the kitchen table. My then-wife labeled it, “Brown recluse spider – do not open.”

Um, okay.

I wasn’t really worried. The spider is called a recluse for a reason. There’s rarely more than one in a house, and you need to look in the dark corners of the basement to find that one. Brown recluses aren’t even native to Ohio; they hail from southern states. They ride here in suitcases or boxes belonging to Southerners heading out of Dixie.

A few days later, my wife found another recluse by the front door. And above our daughters’ bunk beds. And dancing across the kitchen floor. This was not a reclusive group of spiders. It was the Animal House frat party of spiders, complete with John Belushi smashing beer cans against his little arachnid head.

We called Ohio State University for help. OSU’s spiders guys reacted as if I said Kate Upton swore off athletes in favor of spiderologists. They rushed to the duplex to collect spiders two by two.

The spider guys were freakishly happy about finding so many brown recluse spiders. They also said it would take six months to kill all of them. Then they asked if we could catch more specimens for them – and if it wasn’t “too much trouble,” could we catch them alive?

Although bites are rare, a brown recluse can cause a “festering volcanic wound.” Your skin splits open, pops up like a volcano, and seeps goo for months. What else could I say? “Sure, we’d love to catch more spiders for you.”

So there we were in brown recluse Club Med, and the spiders raced around the house like drunken college boys searching for the Girls Gone Wild tour bus, and OSU added “spider hunt” to our list of things to do.

But the spider hunt had to wait. We needed to get the kids out of that duplex, and we needed to make sure the spiders didn’t hitch a ride to our new house.

To keep the girls from being bitten – heck, to keep me from being bitten – we went through everything we owned to make sure neither the spiders nor their eggs went with us. Whenever something was certified spider-free, it went in a plastic tub, and when the tub was full, it went in the backyard, which quickly took on the look of a department store display run amok.

We couldn’t sleep in the duplex. When the weather was nice, we camped in the backyard with our plastic tubs. When it rained, we stayed at hotels and left the plastic tubs to fend for themselves. Unfortunately, the Ohio State Fair was about to start, so hotel rooms were hard to find and even harder to afford. The nightly quest for lodging led to this late-night exchange in a hotel lobby.

Good ol’ boy from Alabama: “Where you from, boy?”

Me, just wanting a spider-free bed in which to collapse: “A few miles from here.”

Good ol’ boy, peeking curiously behind me: “Whatcha doin’ here? Sneaking in a filly?”

Me, too tired to feel either offended or complimented: “We’ve got poisonous spiders.”

Good ol’ boy: “They wouldn’t be brown recluses?”

Me, nodding with great effort and minimal result.

Good ol’ boy: “Hell, we got those crawlin’ in the grass back home. Just brush ‘em off your pillow when you go to bed.”

Me, trying to save some dignity: “I’ve got kids.”

Good ol’ boy: “Our kids make pets out of ‘em. I remember one time …”

Apparently, I’d have to be a lot tougher to live in Alabama.

Moving day finally arrived. Everything was packed. We just needed to load the truck and get the heck out of Dodge before a desperado spider took one of us down.

It was a simple plan.

It was a good plan.

It was not a fail-safe plan.

I woke up with chest pains and a severe rash across my chest and arms. It felt like six sumo wrestlers doing the tango on my torso. I was scared, but I took comfort in knowing that I could count on my wife to stay calm during this new crisis.

She screeched, “Oh, my God, the spiders got you!” and rushed me to the hospital.

Several unrushed hours later, as the spiders met and strategized at home, the ER doctor said that I wasn’t bitten. Instead, I had stress-induced shingles. It felt like fire ants feasting on my roasting flesh whenever I moved a muscle, so the doctor offered medication for the pain. “Just don’t operate heavy machinery after you take it,” he said.

Ever the calm one, my wife burst into tears and sprinted into the hall. The doctor looked confused for a moment before chasing after her. Finally, a group of nurses and orderlies managed to bring her, sobbing as if I were dying, back into the room.

“Ma’am, your husband’s going to be ok,” the doctor said.

“I’m not worried about that,” she whimpered.

“Then what – ”

She burst into tears again. “He can’t take pain medication! He has to drive the truck! It’s rented in his name!”

Guess who didn’t take the medication?

I spent that day loading couches, chairs, tables, beds, a washer, a dryer, and a million plastic tubs onto the rented truck, then unloading it at the new place, all the while trying not to grimace so my wife wouldn’t feel guilty.

A few days later, I mentioned to someone that we were still new to Columbus. “Oh,” he said, “how do you like it so far?”

“Still getting the bugs out,” I muttered.

(C.W. Grody is the author of 13 published books, including 12 for children through various publishers. His most recent book, Since Before You Were Born, is a collection of humorous stories about his childhood. It’s available here: http://www.amazon.com/Since-Before-You-Were-Born-ebook/dp/B00EHT3B5G.)

Mountain Goats, Sunscreen, and Booyah: Just Another Day at the Course

At first glance, it seems odd for grown-ups to go to a large park by the thousands to watch other adults play. Imagine if you showed up somewhere to watch adults go down slides and swing on poles. (Wait, I just described a strip club. Bad example.)

Regardless, it doesn’t seem natural to watch someone else play golf unless you’re the caddy and someone’s tipping you a few bucks. But millions of people watch golf every year, and it’s actually more fun than you’d expect. People go for different reasons – they might admire greatness, they might network with other fans, they might be hoping for golf tips, or they might be looking for autographs. Heck, I knew someone who wanted an invitation to a Tiger Woods party (back in his married days, of course, when he was more carefree).

If you’ve never been to a tournament, here are a few observations that might help you enjoy the experience a little more.

 Expect hills. You know the old saying that TV adds 10 pounds to people on camera? Well, TV smoothes over hills on a golf course. What looks flat in HD actually requires a Sherpa guide and a mountain goat. Wear comfortable shoes that are stylish yet able to hike a mountain ravine, and you’ll be OK. Ladies, that means your heels need to come from L.L. Bean.

 Wearing comfortable shoes doesn’t mean middle-aged men can wear bright orange sneakers. Don’t argue. Just don’t do it.

 It’s OK to feel sorry for caddies. They’re lugging around golf bags the size of a Smart Car for hours on end. They also rake bunkers, get drinks and snacks for their players, shush people in the crowd, and deal with players’ fits when they do something stupid and need someone else to blame. Heck, the best caddy might just be a preschool teacher. With local knowledge, of course.

 You’ll be in the sun. A lot. You need a lot of sunscreen. Sure, there are trees, and you can strategize your way around the course so that you always have a place in the shade, except, of course, for the hundreds of other people planning the exact same thing. A single tree becomes ground zero for a group of hot, sweaty, sunburned fans all struggling to see a grown man hit a ball with a stick. (Not just any stick, of course – one that required more research and development than the supercollider, and one that’s priced slightly higher than your annual electric bill. Nike might be Greek for, “Please mail us your next paycheck.”)

 Be careful to use sunscreen on every exposed part of your body. Think you’ve got it covered with face, neck, arms, hands, and legs? What about your ears? Forget those, and you’ll look hopping mad until they peel. And when they peel, you’ll look like a snake with ears shedding its skin. (Why don’t snakes have ears? I’m guessing it’s because they know how they look when they peel. ) I saw one balding fellow at the Memorial Tournament who forgot his baseball cap had a small opening above the adjustable strap in the back. That patch of skin glowed like a setting sun. I could’ve cooked a burger by holding it near his head.

 Golfers have goofy nicknames. There’s a Bubba, a Tiger, a Walrus, a Golden Bear, and a Boom Boom, and fans just yell out these names whenever the player hits a shot. This happens when Matt Kuchar is playing, too, but it shouldn’t. No grown man should ever be called “Kooch.”

 Some fans yell out nonsense phrases like, “Boo Shaka Laka.” Don’t encourage these people. In fact, don’t even stand near them so nobody thinks you know them. And if you do know them, don’t bring them the next time; your ears (and the players) will thank you.

 How about “Booyah?” No. Just no.

 Be kind to the volunteers. Sure, some of them have control issues (especially the ones who volunteer to take fans’ phones away), but they’re generally nice people who want to help. I remember talking to a weary marshall during last year’s President’s Cup. “I just wish people would quit calling me, ‘Phone Nazi,’” he said.

 If you have to call someone a name, don’t be so lazy that you call them a nazi. “Seinfeld” ended in 1998; it’s time to let it go.

 Dump your buddies. That sounds awful, but it works. In my group of buddies, we have one person who likes to walk a little and sit a little; one who wants to find Jason Day; one who likes to park near the 18th green in the early morning to make sure he has a good view of the final putt 10 hours later; and me, who likes to constantly follow players around the course. Compromise is good in most things, but if we tried to make everybody happy, we’d all be miserable. So I dump my buddies, and we meet near the 18th green late in the day.

 Finally, don’t forget to thank the guy who sat at 18 all day saving your spot. He might actually deserve a “Booyah.”

(C.W. Grody’s latest book of humor, “Since Before You Were Born,” is available here: http://www.amazon.com/Since-Before-You-Were-Born-ebook/dp/B00EHT3B5G. He’s had 12 other books published, and he’s also written hundreds of articles for national magazines.)

Bellwether of Bad Weather

Let’s start by making this clear: I love the Weather Channel.

I love the way that Stephanie Abrams towers over Al Roker. I love when my girlfriend complains for the fourth day in a row, “Stephanie’s wearing blue again.” I love how Jen Carfagno is in Utah one day and back in the studio 18 hours later. I love how the disaster experts get so much airtime. I love the specials about important topics like global warming, hurricanes, and tornado outbreaks. I don’t even mind that it identifies winter storms with names that you wouldn’t give a cat (c’mon, Quintas?). And then there’s “Prospectors” …

OK, I hate “Prospectors.” You can’t like everything. But I love almost everything else, including the myth that when Jim Cantore shows up at your Waffle House, you might as well head to the bunker and hunker down for this year’s storm of the century.

I’m not implying that Cantore is a weather wimp. Far from it. He seems to like bad weather in the same way that my girlfriend likes to point out ways that I’m wrong. If anything, Cantore seems disappointed when a weather system peters out before dumping all over him. But when it comes to taking the toughest hit from a storm, Cantore is a figurehead compared to the true guinea pig of Atlanta, Mike Seidel.

Here’s an example from a blizzard last year in New England:

Host: “Let’s head to Jim Cantore near Boston University.”

The scene switches to a scenic park in Boston, where college students run through the snow, build snowmen, and gently toss snowballs at each other.

Cantore: “As you can tell, it’s really coming down out here. The snow’s building up at the rate of two inches an hour, but look at these cool snowmen. These kids are sure having fun. Hopefully, they’ll be able to enjoy this devastating snowstorm that’s shut down all of Boston.”

Host: “Thanks, Jim. Now to Mike Seidel on the beach beside the Atlantic Ocean. Mike, how are things out there?”

The scene switches to a dark beach, where the staging lights highlight reeds blowing sideways with the snow. Seidel holds up a hand to steady himself as waves crash from the ocean and the wind tries to blow him over.

Seidel: “It’s certainly coming down out here. The wind is …”

Seidel stumbles, then regains his footing.

Host: “Mike, are you still with us?”

Seidel, screaming above the blizzard: “I’m here, and I’m fine. No worries, but people should stay off the beach tonight. If they could find it.”

A lawn chair flies by, along with a few confused birds.

Host: “Let’s check back with Jim Cantore to see how it’s going in Boston. Jim?”

Cantore, holding a steaming mug: “Thanks, Kim. The good people at the hotel across the street saw us on TV and wanted to do something to help us out. They were nice enough to send us a thermos of their special hot chocolate. Here’s to them.” He takes a sip and smiles.

Host: “I’m sorry, Jim, but we have a development on the beach. Mike Seidel, what’s going on?”

Scene changes to Seidel grasping for the reeds.

Seidel, gasping: “The wind has really picked up, Kim. The snow is mixing with sand and pelting me in the face like millions of tiny pieces of rock salt. I have to be careful when I open my eyes in order to protect my retinas. The sand is actually gouging flesh from my cheeks.”

Host: “I’m sorry, Mike, but we have another development with Jim Cantore in Boston. Jim?”

Cantore, making snow angels: “The students were doing this, and it looked like such fun. But don’t get me wrong; the snow’s really coming down out here. Look how deep my snow angel is. This is like being a kid again.”

Host: “We have another development with Mike Seidel. Mike?”

Scene shows the beach, the sideways snow, the bending reeds, but no Seidel.

Host: “It appears that Mike Seidel has been blown into the Atlantic Ocean. Jim Cantore, how are things there?”

Cantore, holding his mug with both hands: “It’s still horrible out here, Kim. I don’t know how long it’ll take to dig Boston out of this mess. I need another sip of this delicious hot chocolate.”

Again, don’t get me wrong. Cantore definitely finds his way into dicey weather situations, and he seems to love it. And if he walks into your Waffle House, it is a good idea to hunker down and hide. But let’s not assume that Cantore is the bellwether of bad weather; that’s Mike Seidel. When he comes to town, you might as well just move.

(C.W. Grody’s latest humor book, “Since Before You Were Born,” is available at Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/Since-Before-You-Were-Born-ebook/dp/B00EHT3B5G)

Do You Hear What I Hear — Don’t Tell S.A.N.T.A.

A strange thing happened this year: I became okay with Christmas music.

Actually, I’ve always been okay with Christmas music, but only after Thanksgiving. Too much, too soon always drove me crazy. Every season needed its time in the spotlight: Halloween, then Thanksgiving, then Christmas. Putting one ahead of the other was just wrong, if for no other reason than there are Charlie Brown specials for each holiday, and the Peanuts gang deserves its due.

I even created a group in college (back in the dark ages of the 1980s) to make sure Thanksgiving didn’t get lost in the rush to Christmas. We called it S.A.N.T.A. – the Society Against the Neglection of Thanksgiving Altogether. It served a need – mainly, giving us something to complain about – and only half the people we knew treated us like we were psychotic. But like many college causes, SANTA eventually faded away into nostalgia, and the pressures of everyday living took over.

But this rule didn’t fade: No holiday shows or music before Thanksgiving. Not one moment. Respect the Pilgrims. Respect the turkey. Respect the movie matinees after Thanksgiving dinner. Good Lord, respect the football.

But something suddenly changed. As I was driving to the golf course this week, I clicked on a radio station that was all Christmas music, all the time. They apparently made the switch in the dead of night, like someone slipping out the window after a midnight tryst. There it was, in all its naked glory (to continue my ill-advised metaphor), blaring from my radio as if it actually belonged.

Of course it didn’t belong. How could it? Didn’t I say that I heard it while driving to the golf course? Fairways and “Jingle Bells” only mix in southern states where Christmas lights hang in palm trees and off the bows of boats in the harbor. I don’t live near a warm beach, and birdies and pars don’t happen in the snow.

And yet, as I drove, I found myself humming and singing along.

I should’ve seen this coming. I was visiting my daughter last November in Florida, where she was a freshman in college, on the weekend before Thanksgiving. She was under the weather, so she spent most of the weekend on the couch watching TV and relaxing. She’s not a football fan, so we watched Christmas movies on the Hallmark Channel. (I’m pretty sure I’ll lose my man card for admitting that.) Now she says she’ll need to be on her deathbed to do that again, yet there we were, watching movie after movie, soaking up Christmas joy and ambience, acting like there was nothing wrong with our behavior.

It was sooooo wrong.

I don’t know how it happened. Maybe we shared a delusion that it was December. Or that they really weren’t Christmas movies. Or that the Hallmark Channel was somehow cool. But the truth is more insidious than that. For whatever reason, I wanted Christmas early.

I’m not proud of it. I know it sounds weak. I know the 20-year-old me would call me a SANTA sellout. But I can’t help myself; the music just touches the right chord for me these days.

Maybe I’m feeling nostalgic for the days when my kids were small. They’re pretty grown up, and there are days that I wish they were still five, and that we were still going to see Santa at the mall, and still driving around the neighborhood to look at Christmas lights, and still watching “A Charlie Brown Christmas” together. That’s not such a bad reason. It’s okay to miss those days. It probably speaks to my feelings of mortality, to some overarching need to turn back the clock, to some understandable desire to be young and vibrant and share the holidays with my kids because I’m just a big kid myself.

But it’s probably not any of those things. It’s probably just that as I get older, I’m less rigid. Or maybe it’s just because I’m looking for a reason to listen to Christmas music because it reminds me of being a kid … wait, now we’re back to wanting to feel younger again.

Whatever it is, I just shrug and sing along.

But I do still have standards. For example, the last song I heard the other day on my way to the course was “Do You Hear What I Hear?” When I got back into the car after playing nine holes, the first song I heard was a different version of the same song.

I stared at the radio and said, “Enough already – I heard you the first time.”

My 20-year-old self would be proud.

(C.W. Grody has published 13 books and hundreds of articles in national magazines. His latest book, “Since Before You Were Born,” is a collection of humorous stories loosely based on his childhood. It’s available here: http://www.amazon.com/Since-Before-You-Were-Born-ebook/dp/B00EHT3B5G.)

Dashing Through The Snow — Hey, Look Out!

I’ve lived in a lot of snowy places.

I grew up in west-central Ohio, where as a teenager we had two of the best blizzards seen in the Midwest before global warming. I moved to Colorado, where I once spent an hour driving through a whiteout in the mountains; the only reason I survived is that the tail lights belonging to the truck I was following didn’t drive into a ravine. I moved to Connecticut, where we had more than 100 inches of snow during my first winter there; it snowed before Thanksgiving, and I only saw one blade of grass poke through the white blanket of pain until the snow finally melted in April. And I’ve owned a lake cottage in central Michigan, where it snowed so much and for so long that we’d occasionally have to shovel the roof.

Yet, it was only when I moved to Columbus, Ohio, that I found the world’s worst winter drivers.

Come to think of it, it’s misleading to refer to them as winter drivers. They’re more like drivers who anticipate winter weather, so they start driving like they’re in the middle of Winter Storm Cantore when it starts sprinkling and the roads get a tiny bit wet. Traffic breaks down as if someone released a million marbles across the road.

So today, with the temperature a mild 50 degrees but with a forecast for rain later in the day turning to snow overnight – an inch of snow, mind you, that will melt tomorrow because the ground’s so warm – I decided it was time to risk the stares and scorn of my teenage daughter by texting her a few reminders of how to handle driving in this weather. I probably would’ve left it alone except that she hasn’t driven on snow or ice since I took her to a frozen store parking lot when she was learning to drive. Then she went to Florida for her freshman year of college, where I’m sure she didn’t get to practice her snow skills; Florida’s idea of winter driving is going around the elderly on your way to the beach.

So here’s what I wrote to her:

“Since the weather’s turning bad this afternoon, and you haven’t driven on snow or ice since, well, ever, I’m going to annoy you with several driving tips:

“1. Everyone driving around you is crazy.

“2. Allow for extra following distance.

“3. Don’t jam or lock your brakes.

“4. Everyone around you is nuts.

“5. Do everything slowly.

“6. If you start skidding, just turn the wheel in the direction that you want to go.

“7. Oh, yeah, almost forgot this one – everyone driving around you is bat-shit crazy.

“Have fun with it! Love, Dad.”

Hey, it doesn’t make me Father of the Year, but it makes me feel better that I sent the reminder. She’s a smart kid; she can handle herself on snowy roads. Still, I can’t help but wonder – did I give enough attention to how bad the other drivers will be?

(C.W. Grody’s latest humor book, “Since Before You Were Born,” is available here: http://www.amazon.com/Since-Before-You-Were-Born-ebook/dp/B00EHT3B5G. He’s also the author of 12 books for children as well as hundreds of articles in national magazines, including Sports Illustrated, Sport, and Boys Life.)