Winter in Washington
Washington, D.C., the old quip goes, is ten square miles surrounded by reality. After living here for 30-plus years, and almost a year with President Trump, I wouldn’t know what reality is anymore.
But traveling to the Northeast and Midwest for the holidays, I was reminded how different Washington is from the rest of the country. Winter underscores the point.
If you’re among the many Americans who plan to visit Washington this winter — for instance, you’re a lobbyist in knee pads already pleading for special exemptions to the new GOP tax reform bill — here are a few things to know:
1. Many Washington residents come from all over America, including Colorado, Alaska, North Dakota, Wisconsin, Minnesota, New Hampshire and other places that get 25 feet of snow every day. As a truly international city, some come to DC from the hottest, driest places in the world where it hasn’t snowed since roughly never. I’m from Ohio, where a big snowstorm is yawner. (Actually, most everything in Ohio is a yawner. Even the name sounds like a yawn.) Here in DC, we panic over a light dusting and forget how to drive; i.e., you turn into a skid, you don’t abandon your car on the highway especially with spouse and kids still strapped in.
2. We have a love-hate relationship with snow. As an intense, driven, workaholic city impassioned by our so very important work, we love a snow day when it’s impossible to get to the office, things slow down, and the delighted cries of children sledding and building gender-neutral snow people ring out. But we hate two consecutive snow days when we have to spend another 24 hours with our spawn who are normally being raised, occupied and entertained by teachers or childcare providers. Also, more time away from the office focused on family means even more hundreds of time-sensitive emails to barely scan and fake answer especially after work hours so we seem more committed and engaged.
3. We treat oncoming snowstorms like they’re major midterm elections, tracking the progress hour by hour, breathlessly speculating on the results, exaggerating the impact, and calling forecasts we don’t like “fake climate news” by the liberal meteorological scientists and lame-stream weather media. Republicans follow AccuWeather while Democrats favor The Weather Channel. Even the right-wing can’t agree. Breitbart says weather is a hoax, while The Daily Caller says it’s a myth. MSNBC pundits say each snowflake is different proof of man-made climate change — literally billions of hurtful micro-aggressions against the planet. (In using the term “snowflake,” MSNBC does not mean so-called sensitive safe-space college students because that would be a hurtful micro-aggression.)
4. Like everyone everywhere, when snow is coming, we rush to the store for milk and toilet paper. Snow apparently makes people both lactose-dependent and lactose-intolerant. In my DC neighborhood, we don’t stockpile just any milk or toilet paper that remains on the Soviet-era 7–11 shelves. Not $2/gallon milk from Kroger — it needs to be $10/gallon Whole Foods organic DHA Omega 3 that “supports brain health.” And never standard Scott tissue at $10 for 12 rolls with 1000 sheets per roll — only Seventh Generation 100% Recycled Bathroom Tissue Natural Unbleached. It costs 50 percent more but “gets your family comfortably clean — without turning trees into disposable paper products.” (The slogan, “Wipe yourself, not the planet,” apparently didn’t fly.) By the way, maybe it’s just me, but something sounds very wrong with recycling toilet paper. ‘Nuff said about that.
5. We bundle up in Washington just like everyone else in America. In fact, incidences of sexual harassment in Congress plummet between December and February because lawmakers are wearing thermal underwear that makes it harder to “take it out.”
6. People from warmer climes complain bitterly when the mercury falls below 30 degrees, and dream of getting away. Well-placed White House sources who asked to remain anonymous tell Breitbart News that Nancy Pelosi has been angling for golf invites to Mar-a-Lago.
7. Weather, good or bad, is the great leveler in Washington. As one political pundit, Matthew the Apostle, put it, “God sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.” Democrats do note, however, that the weather on Trump’s Inauguration Day was overcast and gloomy, and as CNN noted, “As President Trump took the podium, showers began to fall on the Mall.” Fox countered that while it was a relatively balmy 48 degrees that day, during Obama’s first inauguration in 2009 it was 28 degrees with wind chill in the mid-teens.
No wonder, as Fox reported, Trump accomplished more in his first year than Obama did in eight.
Although, come to think of it, Obama is from Chicago, where sub-zero temperatures and ten-foot snow drifts are common. Never mind. Politicizing the weather is ridiculous.
But then, I do live in Washington.
Jeffrey Denny is a Washington writer.