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Charlie Hatton
Brookline, MA

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Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
If you're a science and/or silliness fan, give it a gander! See you soon!

A Hazy Shock of Winter

Winter is easily my least favorite time of year.

(Yes, I’m aware it’s not technically winter yet. I don’t care. You season police and lunar calendar creeps can wax a crescent and shove it up your gibbous.

I’m in Boston. It’s twenty degrees outside, it’s pitch black by three-thirty in the afternoon, and every other house on my block has Christmas lights and rooftop Santas and plastic freaking lawn elves triggered to sing ‘O Holy Night’ in chipmunk voices when you ring their stupid doorbell.

It’s winter. To me. The calendar can go suck a solstice.)

Now. why am I so down on winter? Is it the cold weather?

Nah. I don’t mind the cold. I wouldn’t be traumatized if I never had to shovel snow again in my lifetime, but generally the prevailing climatological conditions don’t factor overmuch into my mood.

Is it Christmas? Am I just a bitter old Scrooge?

Well… yes. In the interest of full disclosure, I suppose I am. Not the ‘steal candy canes from orphans and depants Santa at the mall’ kind of Scrooge, mind you. More a ‘lock myself in a closet after Halloween and hope to god the carols die down by New Years’ Scrooge.

Christmas for me is like a small hyper child with a runny nose. I don’t hate it. I don’t have anything bad to say about it. I’d just prefer it didn’t climb in my lap and scream and sing and rub its gooey little paws all over me.

(‘Oh, Christmas. Always into something. Why couldn’t you be more like your brother, President’s Day?’)

But no, Christmastime (which now officially begins during the 4th of July fireworks extravaganza, from what I understand) doesn’t get me down. Tired, maybe. Exasperated. Willing to do hard time for manslaughter, if I could just get ten minutes alone with the jackass that recorded those dogs barking ‘Jingle Bells’. But down, not so much.

No, the reason I hate winter is a simple matter of fundamental electromagnetics. As in the ‘static’ kind of electro. And me as the magnetics.

I can’t explain the physics behind it.

(No, seriously. Ask my freshman physics teacher; I wouldn’t know a Faraday cage from a hamster ball.

Which turned out to be most unfortunate for our little lab buddy Mr. Squeakers. Rest his furry, crispy little soul.)

All I know is that I’m an unwilling — but ungodly effective — lightning rod for the discharge of static electricity. Always have been. Only in winter, when the air is dry and cold and jam-packed full of loose angry electrons waiting to leap at me when I’m not expecting it. But winters here in New England are, like, eight months long. And already this year, I’m feeling the sizzle.

When I opened the car door this morning — *zzzap*! When I turned the key in the lock at the office — *shhhizock*! As I hung my coat on the (regrettably metal) hook by my desk — *pppppzot*!

“If I attracted stray women the way I attract loose electrons, my life would be an Axe commercial.”

I’d swear I never touched that hook, by the way. I was a good three inches from it, and the electricity just arced over at my fingers. Like a pack of rabid tigers. I’m telling you, it was vicious. If I attracted stray women the way I attract loose electrons, my life would be an Axe commercial.

(Only less smarmy. And with more redheads.)

The worst shock of the day came in one of the worst places possible — the bathroom. I was just putting the final shake on a trip to the urinal, reached for the handle to flush and — *bbbbbbbzzzzzzowie*!!! I’m pretty sure the bolt passed into my finger, whizzed through my body, and slammed into the wall behind me. Some of the paper towels in the holder back there looked a little singed, is all I’m saying. It’s not CSI:Miami proof, but it’s solid forensic corroboration. Singed paper towels would totally hold up in court.

Meanwhile, the jolt was alarming. I would probably have peed my pants, if I hadn’t just gotten finished peeing. And if my peeing apparatus had been tucked away back in my pants already. And if my bladder hadn’t just been cooked to medium rare by a rogue bout of ball lightning.

Instead, I jumped back from the shock, convulsing and flapping my arms. With my pants still unzipped, and the apparatus downstairs waving about willy-nilly. Thank goodness no one walked into the bathroom just then. Maybe someone out there could explain their way out of looking like ‘Cosmo Kramer, sex offender’ in a public restroom, but I’m certain that I couldn’t.

And I have the court-appointed community service records to prove it.

Of course, all of these shocking developments pale in comparison to the teeth-rattling thunderbolts unleashed on me by my wife. If I’m the glue getting stuck with these nasty little shocks, my missus is the rubber bouncing thousand-bolt lightning strikes at me. She’s like Zeus with those things. Or a much cuter Emperor from The Empire Strikes Back. Some days, I’d swear she keeps a Van de Graaff generator in her pants.

(There’s a joke to be made here about electrified panties and pubic hairs standing on end.

But I like being married, so I’ll leave this one to you. Knock yourself out.)

Spending a winter with my wife is taking my life in my own hands. Any other shocks I get — from doorknobs, ungrounded urinal handles and the like — are solely on the fingers. Unless I start licking my car door or getting ‘intimate’ with the tailpipe, only my hands are at risk out in the wintry world.

My wife isn’t nearly so specific, or as merciful. She’ll sizzle me with a touch on the elbow, or the cheek, or worst of all, singe my lips when she leans in for a kiss. I think I’m getting a nice smooch; next thing I know, my mouth is soldered shut and no hairs grow back on my chin for a month. Not cool. At least if she ever delivers a fatal shock, she can always resuscitate me. A quick shuffle across the rug and a megawatt poke in the chest would get me going before any fancy defibrillator paddles. Might catch my shirt on fire, too, but I’ll climb that electrified fence when I get to it.

So winter for me is basically a pain in the neck. And the fingers, and sometimes more sensitive parts. Spring can’t possibly get here fast enough. Until then, I’m sewing resistors into my underpants.

Or transistors. Capacitors? Damn. I really wish I’d paid attention in that physics class.

Permalink  |  1 Comment

One Response to “A Hazy Shock of Winter”

  1. kerry says:

    it’s nice that there are still sparks in your marriage. *rim shot*

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