Once upon a long time ago, I overcame my failure to launch, got a job, and moved to a city a hundred miles from home. During the middle of February, a nasty cold snap moved in. One Friday night, my friend and I went to an early movie. The place was not crowded.
Afterwards, we went up the street to our favorite restaurant. Besides the proprietor, there were only four of us on that chilly night, the friend and I, and two young ladies. At least that’s what they told us they were, when we went over to introduce ourselves.
After about an hour, they asked if we would walk them home. ‘Why shor!’ As we left the restaurant, I glanced at the big Coca-Cola thermometer, hanging on the outside wall. It read -18° F, about -28 of these newfangled Metricated degrees. The walk home involved only that, not even any hand-holding, although it’s hard to hold hands with snowmobile gloves on. Snowmobiles might have been invented by then, but snowmobile gloves sure hadn’t.
After leaving the girls, we headed back to the restaurant to warm up again before going on home. I looked at the thermometer again as we stepped in. It had fallen to -23° F, or -30° C, in the hour we’d been gone. As we sat cuddling our hot chocolates, my pal said, “Do you know your ears are white?” Like the joker I am, I said, “No, but if you’ll hum a few bars, I’ll try to sing along.”
“No, no! Your ears look frozen!” I reached up and found something that felt like Michelangelo had carved from marble. I wrapped my hands around the mug, and transferred warmth to my ears. I couldn’t feel a thing. Within 15 minutes I could feel them again, and was sorry I could. They stung for hours.
The next day I went to a Men’s Wear store, explained what had happened, and asked if they had a solution. The salesman provided a bright-white as-the-snow, 100% wool, skiers’ ear band, which I wore faithfully. I later found that, while I had not lost the ears to frostbite, the tiny blood vessels had been damaged. Now if a cool September breeze stirs the leaves on the Maples, the ears don’t like it.
I left the job, moved back home for a summer, moved out again, went back to school for retraining, got a girlfriend, got a fiancé, got married, and wore that headband every winter. My WIFE looked at the now grey-brown abomination on my head, and said, “That thing’s gotta be washed!”
Most of the wife’s family is allergic to wool. Thank the Catholic God and Monsanto for Nylon, Rayon, Orlon, Banlon, Dacron, and Polyester. She washed it in nice hot water, and dried it in a nice hot dryer, and I got back a nice, paper-white wrist band. Oops!
We easily replaced it at K-Mart, before they went extinct, but she always felt badly about destroying the original. Some years later, when her knitting skills had improved to the point that she was arguing with knitting patterns and TV knitting show hostesses, she asked if I would like her to custom-design and make me a replacement, this time in a washable wool/polyester blend. See above, “Why shor!”
She started with a tube, a basic sock. Then she steadily increased stitches on one side, while adding a simple pattern. After achieving a desired length, she stopped the pattern, and reduced stitches till both ends were equal. Now she carefully sewed the ends together, and I have a double-thickness ear protector. The protruding edge goes down the nape of the neck, to fend off cold breezes and falling snow.
After letting me be the guinea pig, the son decided that he’d like one also. A neighbor kid, watching me shovel snow with it on one day, asked how I got my hair to grow up through my hat.
I once sliced into an old tennis ball, and pushed it down over the ball of my trailer hitch, to protect it from rusting. This was the same kid who asked me how I got the ball to balance there. I think he’s got all the way up to manager at his McDonalds location. 😯