Most people reading this are probably aware that I am based in Vancouver BC, which more or less Canada's answer to Seattle. Even though it rains a lot, it rarely gets below freezing. As for the rest of Canada, I can safely assure anybody reading this in the US, or anywhere else in the world, that the cliches are all true; it is fucking cold up here ( and yes, we occasionally intersperse our conversations with "eh").
If you are in Minnesota or Finland, you may relate to what I am talking about. The skin-numbing, ball-shrinking, bone chilling cold that feels like a switchblade in the back. A large section of the world's population live in this type of climate and have acclimatized themselves to it. Unfortunately this a horrible environment for greasers. Even proselytizing hippies, drunken cougars trying to touch our hair or lack of a decent supply of hair grease ( hard to get good grease in Canada) aren't close to what cold weather does to cramp our style.
I speak from experience, as I am originally from eastern Canada where the cold could freeze your very soul, hence my relocation to the west coast. The harrowing experiences that I had were enough to deter even the heartiest of greasers to leave their house for 6 months . Let me explain.
1. The Tony Lama Paradox.
I used to have a fondness for Tony Lama boots that were so pointy, that I could kick a cockroach in the eyeball. I liked the exotic skins, and had a particular fondness for Iguana or any other reptile skin. Cool as they may have looked indoors, these were a poor choice for cold weather. It was like walking barefoot, as these paper thin excuses for warm boots would let the cold freeze your toes within five minutes. The leather soles were slick enough in warm weather, but when frozen to temperatures of 30 below the friction co-efficient of walking on snow or ice would be negative. That means that you end up on you ass as soon as you set foot out the door.
By fall on your ass, I mean the passage of time would cease to exist, judging by the speed at which you fell. I use ass metaphorically because you would invariably fall on your face. I have the stitches on my eyebrow to prove it. Nothing will blow your cool like falling flat onto your forehead and hurry home as blood drips in the snow.
You don't even think of wearing Converse is this kind of weather. Unless you enjoy getting gangrene and having a few few toes amputated.
2. What The Hell is Snow For ?
All my friends in the South don't really understand what the fuss is all about, but my Canadian friends know all too well what I mean. You get up in the morning and look out the window. There is literally 5 feet of snow. There is a slight hump in front of your house; that is your car.
Wet snow weighs more than cement, but you still have to dig your car out. This is a great way to discover what an actual heart attack feels like.
Once you car emerges from the avalanche that has engulfed it, you pray to whatever gods you may believe in because your battery has one shot to start the car. At 30 below it is at 5% of its capacity. Never mind the math, Celsius or Fahrenheit , 30 below is unbelievably fucking cold. All your vehicles fluids are like molasses at these extreme temperatures and the experience of sitting on a frozen vinyl seat initiates some rather extreme testicular activity.
Snow has a few useful functions however. It is the perfect beer cooler. You can jam 96 beers in the snowbank that is on your balcony or backyard. It holds them perfectly and keeps them at the right temperature. Some beers do go missing. This manifests itself in Spring, when the snow banks begin to thaw and recede, revealing lost beers, hundreds of piles of dog shit, and once every few years, a couple of frozen crackheads.
3. Stone Cold Pomp.
Cold weather's effect on a pomp is twofold: Once you get your pomp just right, all you have to do is step outdoors and the cold will immediately lock it into place, but you will pay the price with frostbitten ears.
In Canada we have these caps called toques ( pronounced tukes). Some have a huge pom-pom sewn on the apex ( I don't know why). While these are ok for small children to wear as they build snowmen, nothing says retard like wearing a toque. Menetal aptients and hippies are fond of these, although many hippies prefer those pretentious Peruvian wool caps with the two strings ( these closely resemble what the human cannonball at the circus wears).
It is a given that nothing wreaks havoc on a pomp like a tight woolen cap. This why you see greasers scurrying about in winter with their hands covering their ears. Also, their ass is mighty cold, because they don't like long underwear.
A note of caution for selecting the right hair product for extreme weather, it might look good frozen, but once you arrive at the bar it may start to melt and you will end up looking like some sort of Emo goof. Carry spare grease.
4. Don't Even Think About It.
There are some things that should not even be considered in snow and cold weather. Bike riding comes to mind. You will still see some of the more psycho bike messengers doing it anyway. These two wheeled hippies are not usually known for possessing sound judgment, and seeing them lurch about in a snowstorm attempting to follow tracks left by cars in the snow just proves it.
Outdoor shows just ain't gonna happen. Never mind try play a fretboard on a guitar at 30 below, just exposing the guitar to the cold air would make it shatter into hundreds of pieces. The singer would be in a coma after 5 minutes of inhaling copious amounts of Arctic air and it would be pointless, because the only audience that you would have would be snowbanks and a few pigeons. The bike messengers wouldn't be there, the would be too busy trying to show how hard core they were.
It is inevitable that on some drunken walk home you will need to pee. While writing your name in the snow can be fun , it should not be attempted at really cold temperatures. 10 below means hurry up, twenty below means you better find a gas station quick, or suffer the consequences ( better learn to sing soprano).
Ok, so you live in SoCal and you have a cool hot rod with an exposed engine, no side windows, no wipers and no heater, that's great for California, but up here we commonly refer to those as Ski-Doo's. The only difference is that you have to wear a special thermal snowmobile suit, heated socks and carry a large bottle of Brandy.
5. Why ?
So why do we do it? Why do we choose live in a place that freezing half the year? I don't know precisely, but it makes you appreciate a few things. There is nothing like arriving at a bar and feeling its warm embrace and ordering a couple of beers and a whiskey. Maybe we enjoy driving big ass four by fours and plowing through snowbanks. Maybe some of us derive pleasure from watching people fall on their ass. Perhaps we get a few more days off, because calling your boss to tell him you're snowed in is a plausible excuse.
All those reasons aside, I suspect that there is one factor that motivates us above all else: Canadian beer.