All this snow that’s been relentlessly pelting us here in the New York City area has made this 39(ish)-year-old feel nostalgic.
So, parents — gather your kiddies ’round.
I wanna tell them about the New York City snow days in the winters back when I was their age. In the disco/new wave era.
Oh, it was a golden time. Golden, I tells ya! Even if in those days the Times Square snow was tinted smog gray and filled with filthy Three-Card Monte hustlers.
There was no SuperDuper HyperLocal Quintuple Doppler Radar back then. Nope, it was guesses based on the visible growth of Ed Koch’s nose hairs. That bit of “meteorology” and the hair spray fog from Studio 54 punching a hole in the ozone resulted in the adults sitting around all day, warming their hands around a mug of tepid Chock Full o’ Nuts, complaining about how the weathermen had overhyped yet another storm that never materialized.
Yes, whippersnappers, I said “men.” None of these zaftig chippies thrusting their occluded fronts all up in your face like today — no siree, Bob Newhart!
(What? Your name’s not Bob. It’s Madison? Your folks name you after the mermaid in Splash or something?)
Back then, to be a TV weather prognosticator in The Big Apple you had to be a man. A man’s man. You also had to have a goofy first name like Tex or the last name Field – sometimes both.
Snow days with a snowy TV picture
‘Course we only had seven channels back then. Moreover, the news was only allowed to be reported at meal times or right before bed. That’s how we stayed so thin back then: highly concentrated doses of calorie-burning, media-induced agita.
After the weather bogeymen frightened the bejeezus out of us all, mom would scurry us down to the Pathmark so we could purchase every last loaf of bread, carton of eggs and gallon of milk we could find.
Why? Why to make the French toast, wisenheimer! Mounds of it!
What for? Why we’d toss the French toast onto the snow- and slush-covered streets so our rear-wheel drive cars could get some traction. You youngins don’t know how lucky you are these days, what with your fancy 4×4 SUVs and your microwavable Aunt Jemima!
Broadcasters weren’t always scaring us about the snow and other natural disasters, though. Sometimes they’d magically transmit the most wholesome of entertainment like post-Somers Three’s Company and pre-McGinley Love Boat.
Huh? What do I mean by “magically transmit”?
Well, before your fiber-optic digital hoo-has arrived, we had to have these oversized potato mashers screwed onto the roof of our houses. These would transmogrify invisible electrostatic streams of Technicolor goodness into a big honkin’ cathode ray tube that was housed in a wooden crate the exact size, shape and weight of one of those Acme safes Road Runner was always dropping on Wile E. Coyote. Ah, they don’t oversaturate afternoon programming with genuine cartoon violence like that anymore, Junior. That’s why you’re so soft.
Then the cable man came to town. That was the end of it. In came the Weather Channel. The HBO. The sticking of the tin foil through the vents in the back of the box to sneak a peek of a partially descrambled Playboy Channel movie. Shocking. Literally. So I’ve heard.
All the children started staying in at night, zombified by that there were 100 channels of Tee-Vee. They were glued to the front of the tube instead of going out to do some good ol’ fashioned rabble-rousing, like looting the Crazy Eddie while hopped up on hormones and Pop Rocks.
Bah, that’s what passes for progress nowadays, I guess.
Oh, right. The subject was winter when I was a kid.
So for days we’d hear all this “storm of the century” jabber on the airwaves, and you know what? We’d get seven flakes of snow. Seven! Except on the Upper East Side. The hot air there would keep it down to an even four.
It’d stay so warm even the Turtle Pond in Central Park wouldn’t freeze. Not that it could anyway, what with all the chemicals from the Big Mac clamshell containers we tossed in there. But instead of thanking our lucky stars, we’d just grumble about those nincompoop forecasters who got us riled up for nothing.
Good times. Good times. Snow days be damned.
Well, looks like another 18 inches has fallen outside. Now you, kids — get off my stoop! I mean it. Unless one of you wants to dig through the snow bank for my copy this morning’s paper. Newspaper. You know, the thing all yer Internet sites steal their information from.
So, any of you want to help an old-timer out? If you do, I’ll gives ya a shiny Susan B. Anthony dollar.
A version of this first appeared on Always Home and Uncool.