I am stuck in the house because of this friggin' snowstorm, more or less. I mean, I have good experience driving in this crap having been through the dump snows in Denver for years, but I'm not exactly jumping up and down to do it, so if I don't have to, I won't.

Something I Know: there is no win with ICE. All y'all in your trucks and all-wheel-drives and four-wheel-drives seem to forget this with astounding regularity. Your everything is USELESS against the shiny slick evil that is ICE on the road. Make the wrong move, or even the right move, and you are as helpless as a spinning toy top in the hands of a chortling giant red Lucifer. I know this first-hand, and I will tell you why now, because I don't at all feel like wrapping damn Christmas presents.

In Wisconsin, the snow comes early and generally makes itself at home for six months or so, just piling up in great dirty heaps at the side of the roads or in parking lots, pushed by constantly-working snowplow brigades. This was all I knew growing up, that snow was inevitable and you just got on with whatever despite it. There were a few times where it was actually impossible to leave the house because all the doors and windows were snowed shut, but the weirdness of that almost made it worth it.

The winter I was 16 my best friend had just gotten her license a few weeks before and her folks' gave her some giant shitbomb of a car to drive; I can't remember what it was other than it was about 9000 feet long with a burgundy exterior and black vinyl interior. Didn't matter, of course, because teenager + car = freedom/trouble. BEST THING EVAH!

One extremely sunny and cold day, my friend and I decided to leave the high school for lunch, inexplicably going to the ice cream shop, of all places. I would always get the same thing: sugar cone with one scoop of Watermelon and one scoop of Blue Moon, which was some turquoise-colored cheesecake-tasting thing. We finished, I stopped at the Walgreens to get a can of Pepsi Light to top off my nutritious lunch, and actually made an effort to get back to class on time. The car was skidding and sliding a bit as she drove the short distance back to school, and we smiled and giggled at the whirly feeling of it. I drank my soda as it sloshed in the can.

We were almost to the parking lot entrance of the school, and my friend was playing more with the car on the icy snow-packed road, fishtailing and straightening out, over and over as we yelled and whooped like we were on a carnival ride. There was not a single car in sight, everything dead quiet. I told her to put the car into a spin and do some snow donuts before we went back to the dull soul-crushing reality that was high school.


Oh, of course it was a mistake, and it just highlights the stupidity of the teenage brain. Here we were on a very slick road, my friend with barely any driving experience, and I goad her on because it was FUN. It stopped being fun almost immediately when, OF COURSE, my friend found herself at the wheel of a totally out-of-control large vehicle going about 30 MPH sideways towards a huge utility pole. That vision is burned into my brain for all time -- the jumping skidding car, seeing the pole coming up quickly, looking like it was heading straight for my friend's door, and was going to tear through the car, hit us both, and that would be that. Both of us screamed, and then there was this tremendous BOOM, and all the shapes changed for that fraction of a second. My head went BASH into the dashboard, up and back as fast as a slingshot, and I floated up, then back.

The first thing I can remember seeing was my own right hand, still gripping the stupid Pepsi Light can. The next was the rear view mirror laying on the floor of the car after I hit it with some part of me, and the ashtray and its ashy contents spilled everywhere. I was not exactly sure if I was alive. My head was throbbing in pain, which seemed to be a decent indicator of my non-cadaver status, and my face felt wet and hot. I took my left hand and wiped my eyes. Blood blood blood. I started to shake. I turned to my left. My friend was sitting there, just stunned, her door crumpled into her side. The pole had hit the pillar right in front of her door, and the car was wrapped around it like a big metal scarf, huge gashes into the wood.

She looked over at me and started to cry. Blood was pouring out of a gash at the top of my head and it was impossible to tell how bad it was. I thought maybe my brains were all spilling out like the dudes that went under the truck in that monstrous accident film they just showed us in Driver's Ed. I asked her if she was OK, and she said she thought so, and told me to just sit there and she would get help. She somehow scrambled into the backseat of the car and got out the non-crushed door and ran from house to house, banging on the doors screaming for help until someone let her in.

Later, she told me that she was terrified that I was going to die, there was so much blood everywhere, that she was running on pure adrenalin. When we got to the hospital, her pain came through. She had broken her left hip. I think of her running on that, her only thought being to help her friend. Remarkable. Just remarkable.

In the end, we healed, the car was dragged away to the junkyard, the utility pole still standing with the crash marks to remind me every time I passed it. I was left with a little dent in my skull at my hairline, and I did not get my driver's license for another 18 years. My dear friend over the next few years became more and more serious, started drinking too much, and we fell apart for good over a last vitriolic middle-of-the-night phone call. I have no idea what happened to her for the last 20 years.

So. There we are. I can stare at my snow-crushed patio set, watch a couple dudes in knit pointy hats snowboard down my street, get on with my regular work, and drink lots of coffee, and tell you all to be careful on the ice. Even wrapping presents is better than the whole ice thing.

Stay warm.