Thursday, January 21, 2016

Insert Ice, Ice Baby Reference Here

Let me tell you something about the cold.

You know nothing about the cold. Nothing. You might think that the cold is your ally. You might think that you were born in it, that you were moulded by it. But you merely adopted the cold; by then it was already freezing.

I come from a tropical island, where latitudes are merely platitudes and the concept of axial tilt holds no sway. My country's relationship with the equator is like that of a fat man's bellybutton with his belt, and in a place like this "winter" is nothing more than a word: shipped in from Western shores to infuriate postcolonial poets; something to fill up the section of the dictionary between V and X where nobody looks anyway; uttered in the same way one might the word "unicorn"1. Numbers like these have never graced our air-conditioning remotes, let alone our thermometers.

So you can imagine how immensely frigid it is on this side of the world, where "seasons" means more than just a brand of bottled tea. Colder than a whiskey on the rocks; colder than a liquid nitrogen ice cream with chocolate sprinkles; colder than jolting awake from a nightmare. Colder than an ex-girlfriend's heart; colder than the realization that you live in a meaningless and uncaring world; colder than the heat death of the universe.

Sure, you can try in vain to ward yourself against it. "Layers", they say, as if it's some magical incantation that will keep the frost at bay. Cakes have layers. Onions have layers. Ogres have layers; but layers are no help at all when the wind tears at your fingertips or knifes through your jeans or gnaws at your bones or creeps in through the gap between your long-johns and your ankle-socks because of a serious error in judgement. A word on ankle-socks, by the way: fashion is naiveté. Better to be ugly and warm than a beautiful corpse.

And what do you think of when you hear the word "snow"? Soft, fluffy pillows, probably; cake frosting, feminist Disney movies with whimsical talking snowmen, and marshmallows. Nobody thinks of avalanches, or the sinking of the Titanic, or the reason for the thickness of killer whales, or why Germany failed to invade Russia during World War II.

As of this writing, it is almost dinnertime. I must now venture forth into the wilderness, like an Antarctic explorer in the 1800s, bundled up more than a premium insurance package, to seek warm food for sustenance.

I am just going outside. I may be some time.

1. i.e. In a voice filled with magic, wonder, and rainbows, demonstrating that the speaker is over-romanticising what ultimately is half a tonne of untamed muscle and sinew with a razor-sharp spear stuck to its head.

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