A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Beth Underwood: Though I despise whining, I really hate the cold more — so please let me vent

“I’m not yelling at you, I’m yelling to you,” I said to Colton.

It was New Year’s Day, and the two of us were headed to my parents to ring it in with the traditional chocolate fondue. At this point in the holiday season, we’d all eaten enough chocolate/sugar/junk food to re-sink the Titanic, so what’s one more day, right?

Except I really wasn’t in the mood. In fact, I had no desire to leave the house. It was 10 degrees in the sun with a wind chill of -10, Weather fit for neither man nor beast. And I’d had my fill, which was obvious by my rant, which was in full swing.

“This,” I said as I exhaled a cloud of near-frozen fog, “is why I can’t get back to Florida fast enough.”

My words, as passionate as they were, fell on deaf ears. Because Colton loves the cold. He relishes the nip in the air and frost on the pumpkin.

“I think it feels great,” he said, oblivious to the chattering of my teeth that nearly drowned out his word. “I can’t believe you’re cold.”

Had the fact escaped him that I was warming my feet with my hairdryer once an hour? Had I raised a polar bear?

Granted, his affinity for the big chill probably stems from a youthful metabolism. That coupled with a little bit of crazy. Because there’s nothing appealing about your eyelids freezing. No siree.

I’ll take 80 degrees and above every day of the week. Which is really too bad for me, considering winter is just getting started.

“You never complained about the heat when we lived in Florida,” I said.

“That’s because I was four, Mom.”

“So are you saying that you’re going to stay here and freeze when I move back? Do I need to stock up on postcards? Is that what I’m hearing?”

As my questioning continued — and as much as I hate to admit it — I was struck by the excess amount of whining that spewed from my mouth and into my 16-year-old’s ears. I’d taken a bright, sunny January afternoon — the first day of the new year, mind you — and darkened it with complaints about the weather, over which I have zero control.

That wasn’t the worst of it, though. I’d like to think if my kids have learned anything from me, they’ve learned not to play the victim. Yet there I was, playing the part like a pro.

I was setting a pathetic example. And I felt bad about it, especially since the car was starting to warm up.

“Sorry about the whining,” I said after being silent for a moment or two. “It’s not like Florida never gets cold. In fact, I’m betting this’ll be your favorite time of year down there.”

I was hoping that much, at least.

I pointed out that low temperatures in my stomping grounds of Stuart were slated to plunge to the freezing mark this week, and highs were predicted to hit the low to mid-60s at best.

“That’s the kind of weather you love,” I said.

It was a valiant attempt to backpedal my anger at the elements and lighten the mood, even if my mood was the only one in need of improvement.

And what I was saying was true. When the temperatures in Florida plunge into the 60s, it’s time to pull out the parkas.

“There’s no cold quite like that kind of cold,” I noted.

Well, unless you’re in Kentucky and your eyelids are frozen.

Beth Underwood is an award-winning journalist whose work has appeared in numerous newspapers and magazines. She shares stories of everyday life that entertain, inspire, and encourage others. Her books include Gravity, a narrative nonfiction account of a small group of Tennessee National Guardsmen, and Talk Bourbon to Me, a lighthearted look at Kentucky’s native spirit. Drop her a line at beth@bethwrightunderwood.com, or visit her website at bethwrightunderwood.com.

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