Bread and Circuses

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Well, Snowpocalypse Eve has come and gone, the front came through and left its moderate dusting of powder on this land of sugah, and all of us are safely ensconced in our warm homes enjoying a rare snow day.

It was fun to watch how we all prepared. I’m a shrink. I watch people. It’s what I do.

The superstitious among us Southerners go the Temple of the Blue Plastic Sacks and feverishly run up and down the aisles in a state of mixed panic and ecstasy, trying to remember if peanut butter is on aisle five or seven, then thinking that if we don’t  hit the bread and milk that all of the Bunny Bread will be gone and the real milk, the kind that makes the best snow cream in the world, will be gone too. Who can make snow cream with skim milk? Who can make sandwiches with 100% Eighteen Grain Wheat and Fiber thick sliced bread? Are you kidding me? Move! I need Bunny Bread! And don’t forget the popcorn, Orville’s best with lots and lots of extra butter, because we may be stuck in these three-inch drifts for DAYS and a good layer of protective fat is just the thing for long-term hibernation in front of a stream of Netflix bombshells. We superstitious Southerners are SURE that milk and bread counteract all bad things in the world, including the Snowpocalypse. We don’t know why we know it, but momma told us that it was true, and by gum, it must be true then.

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The compulsive Southerners, the ones who plan months ahead for such nonsense and who still think that Sherman may swing back though here any day, are at home. Not at the Temple of the Blue Plastic Sacks? Heavens no! They are reverently standing in front of the door to their pantry, silently rocking back and forth, a faint chanting echoing back off the neatly stacked cans of pork and beans and Vienna sausages, a low humming that sounds vaguely like a kindergartner learning to count. They have amassed three months’ worth of bottled water, peanut butter (that’s why there IS NONE for the fools looking for it today), canned goods, turkey jerky, granola bars, and Sterno. They count the twenty-four-packs of AA batteries as if they were gold ingots. They have a flashlight for every purpose. One that’s portable, one that stands on its own, and one that floats. (Never mind that the nearest river is seventeen miles from here. A three-inch snow drift could suddenly melt and flood the downstairs in no time flat) They take great comfort that if the end comes this time, that if this is really The Big One, that they will live at least three months longer than anyone else. Hey, it’s the South. Land of SEC football. We compete even when we’re freezing to death.

The fearless Southerner, she of the “Well, la dee dah, sugah” mentality, is not worried. Not one whit. She is in her bathtub, scaldingly hot water and fragrant, frothy white bubbles turning her skin as red as the face of the School Superintendent who closed all the schools a whole day and half early, before the first flake even thought about drifting to the ground. She has candles, lots of candles, because if the electricity goes out she will not miss a page, not a single page, of the latest Cosmo due to the Recent Unpleasantness. She sips Chardonnay in the middle of the afternoon, because it’s five o’clock somewhere, and she has no place else to go. There is not much else to say about her, is there?

Now, how could I write anything about the Sunny South and leave out the Pious among us? In the South we pray. When it’s hot, we pray for cooling rain. When it’s cold, we pray for summer heat. When times are lean, we pray for sustenance. When times are good, we give thanks. We pray for ourselves. We pray for others. We pray for the world, even those countries and people that we can’t find on the globe. With the advent of this monumental Snowpocalypse, I think I heard prayers, whispers, entreaties, plaintive whimpers and frightened pleas that we would all be safe. That if we were meant to survive this three-inch onslaught of blinding white light, it would be so. That if this benevolent blizzard, this test of wills was to be the end of us, that it would be a quick end, a painless, frostbitten, numbingly cold end, that would have us staggering into the blowing, blizzarding light as we heard the intonation “Come into the light, children, all are welcome, all are welcome…”  and then would take us away in death’s cold embrace. No, wait. Maybe that wasn’t it. Oh, silly me. The intonations are coming from the pantry. The quote is from Poltergeist, playing on Netflix in the next room. My bad.

(Aside: Michiganers and residents of the Ice Planet Hoth laugh at us with great regularity, especially at times like these. Now, I have friends in Michigan. I know no one on Hoth, at least to my knowledge. They simply get a few chuckles watching us playing bumper cars on I-75 around Atlanta and go on exporting Chryslers and taking down Imperial walkers with pieces of cable.)

We Southerners are fascinated by anything that might annihilate us. We really are.

Tornados.

Ice and snow events and driving in said storms.

The Union Army.

We make bad decisions sometimes. We pick the wrong people to be on our team. We should have taken that tall guy with the beard and the stovepipe hat in the first round, but noooo… We believe in talismans (see treatise on bread and milk above).

We have our own definitions of things, and time runs slower here, especially on snow days.

This storm, with its dusting of white powder, will most likely be called a Blizzard, after one of our native sons, one day.

A week from now, we will still consider hazardous weather being anything that causes the horn to be blown that gets us off the golf course so we don’t get struck by lightning.

“Wintry Mix” will go back to being a bag of Chex Mix with a few leftover red and green M&Ms from the Christmas bag that we found down in the crack behind the sofa cushions.

Yeah, we’ll forget about this megastorm that could have been the end of our way of life. We’ll go back to work. We’ll go back to playing. We’ll get ready for the Masters, because we know that General Beauregard will in no way, shape or form prolong our winter any longer than he has to on February second.

Now, go out and whip up some snow cream, slide down the hill on a flattened cardboard box, and make some memories.

Please think and don’t drive.

Be careful out there, ya’ll.

10 thoughts on “Bread and Circuses

  1. Delightful, wonderful post. During my lifetime I’ve lived in very snowy places — Rochester, NY and Lenox, MA, to name two where 3″ of snow was considered a lovely summer’s day.

    A few years ago I moved to Baltimore, MD, which I consider the South (go ahead and laugh) and am fascinated by the hysteria that abounds when white flakes simply swirl in the air; not even landing and sticking. I also wonder what’s up with the bread and milk thing. Bread and milk? Why? Cheez Doodles and chocolate makes more sense. There’s gotta be a DSM category for those who default to bread and milk. And yes, coffee goes without saying.

  2. Wonderful read. We Canadians who live in any of the snow belts, ie: most of Canada in the winter, have a habit of forgetting that we get winter and are either surpised or annoyed that it actually arrived without telling us (meteorolgists not withstanding). We moan that we didn’t have time to put on the snow tires, wonder why the tire store can’t put them on today, and forget that even though winter arrives once a year, we need to relearn how to drive in winter conditions. Here’s a small hint for the guys in the “go fast” 4X4’s, moving is only half the equation, stopping is the other half! Get off my trunk!!

  3. Very cute ! We have to laugh at ourselves because this is how we were raised. Get the milk and bread. I never do that! They get it in case the power goes out and they can’t cook anything. They could have a sandwich I guess. And milk is for the cereal, I guess. And the snow cream, which is better, of course, if you have real cream, which is really just evaporated milk. Silly, but it’s fun and it gives us a diversion for a day or two. And that’s great because basically, we like it sunny and 75!

  4. I enjoyed this piece so much because if you take your setting further south —all the way down to the US territory that happens to be my Caribbean Island— and exchange “snow” for “hurricane”, many of your types-of-people descriptions apply here too (with local quirks, of course). Every year Hurricane Season —a glorious (yeah, right!) period that officially extends from June 1 to November 30— allows us many dress rehearsals (tropical storms, depressions, troughs, et al) for the “big one”. The mere mention of an atmospheric disturbance will have the hysterical folks rushing to the store to stock up on vienna sausages, canned goods, soda crackers and water in the blink of an eye… but when a storm turns mean enough to get a name and a category number, then you see a mad dash to every supermarket, discount warehouse, corner grocer or convenience store with people trying to get their hands on as much beer (and/or hard liquor) as possible in addition to your basic staples. “if this thing is going to hit us, at least we’re going to enjoy the ride,” seems to be their frame of mind. Y’all can keep the Chardonnay, sugah.

  5. Loved it! My mom made “snow cream” when we were little… have not thought about that in years! Michiganers laugh at Southerners???? Noooooooo

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