The Hive

I'm just another dude with too much time on his hands. It really doesn't have anything to do with ants.

Friday, March 10, 2006

The most interesting topic of all time

I had stopped my car at my mailbox, a series of key-entry steel boxes at the bottom of the hill to my trailer park. It was raining outside, and hailing, and kind of snowing; I’d just gotten off a long, boring day at work, and, encouraged by the freight train of "It’s the End of the World as We Know It" playing over my car radio, I'd driven home in a hurry, eager to change clothes, eat some dinner, and watch some TV.

When I got out of the car the radio immediately dimmed like a switch had been thrown. The stuff hitting my face felt like slush, like something that pours out of a gas station beverage machine. No wind, though: just cold and wet, and three Netflix DVDs waiting in my mailbox. I ran back around to the driver's side, got into my car, out of the cold and wet, into the pounding guitars that were instantly five times louder.

At that point I should have been stabbed or strangled, maybe even decapitated, because it was clear I was living a scene out of a horror movie. Not like I was sad or angry or otherwise feeling nightmarish, but just because that scene—guy's rocking out in his car, guy gets out of car, rock music suddenly fades to the background and he realizes he's out in the rain and the dark and some dude with a chainsaw's just over his shoulder—is one I've seen dozens of times in dozens of movies, to the point where I knew it so well I knew I was living it before I got back in that car.

That was two days ago. The next night I drove Ken home after we watched The Salton Sea, one of those movies that makes you wonder why Val Kilmer doesn't do more serious acting. It had been snowing all day, but it had been too warm to stick until after we’d gotten back to my house. Then, for a few more hours, it snowed and hailed in equal measure. Sometimes it was completely silent outside, sometimes you could hear all that hail pinging off the roof of the trailer.

The roads, they were bad. The city's usually pretty good about getting wintry stuff off the road, but tonight it was if they’d be taken by surprise, or just weren't able to quickly scrape away the half-inch plate of ice that was frozen over everything. I got Ken home and got back okay, but my place is midway up a steep hill, a hill inclined at about 15-20 degrees, and I just parked my car at the bottom and walked back up to my house.

Only I couldn't. Halfway up, it was just too slick to walk. I'd take a step and slide back down to the spot I'd just left. I tried moving over to the shoulder, but it was too slippery there, too. I had the sense that, if I kept trying to walk, I'd end up falling over, and I'd end up just as bruised and humiliated as I was cold.

It was windy, too. Really windy; they'd been talking about wind warnings on the radio that evening, gusts up to 60 mph, which is fairly common in the Tri-Cities but still nothing you’re really ever used to. Up to that point I'd been able to keep a hand on my head to keep my fedora in place, but with all that ice I had to keep my arms out for balance, and while I was standing in the middle of the road, halfway between my trailer and the bottom of the hill, my hat blew off my head and rolled across the street.

Running after it was out of the question. Even walking sideways across the road, I discovered, was impossible. All I could do was get down on my hands and knees, crawl over to my hat, then crawl back across and up the rest of the way to my house. Literally crawling. Sometimes the wind gusted up and I had to put a hand on my head and duck-walk on just my knees. When I got to my yard I was exhausted, I was freezing, the tips of my fingers on the hand I'd been using to support myself against the ice were so numb I couldn’t feel them for twenty minutes.

I've had to chase my hat into snowdrifts as tall as me before, but I've never had to crawl across an icy hill to get it back. The weather here is weird.


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