Smile Politely

Winter is Near, so is S.A.D.

I am sad. Winter is near. For those of you who haven’t experienced a Midwestern winter, get ready for wind, ice, rain, snow, darkness and more wind. These drastic climate changes might not affect everyone, but they sure seem to have a profound effect on me. Each winter I try to prepare myself by taking necessary measures around my house: I wash my motorcycle, wax it, put fuel treatment in the gas tank, hook the battery up to a charger, throw a cover over it and then I cry a little. I tell my motorcycle that it’s only temporary – similar to a separation from a loved one – and then I go inside for some woolgathering. I usually dream of spring.

Next, I get out my winter clothes. I like to run outside, so it’s necessary for me to have protective gear like wind resistant pants, thermal shirts, gloves and stocking caps. I then move all my shorts to the darkest confines of my closet, so that I’m not tempted. I’ll move my sweaters around for easier access and then I’ll imprecate my polo shirts and t-shirts for not having any control over our climate. They accept my denigration without argument.

Once I’m done repositioning my clothes, I’ll try to find blankets to have available for guests, if they need them. I usually don’t mind my house being a little cold, but when guests come over, it’s necessary to swaddle them sometimes. When I do this, I pretend they’re Baby Jesus. I’ll then bring some firewood in, because there is absolutely nothing better than an open fire. I still need to get a bear rug, but my vegetarian friends would kill me. I’m lucky that they let the firewood thing slide, so why push my luck?

I’ll try to get to the grocery store soon to stock up on items that I would never have during the other three seasons. I’ll buy soup, chili, frozen pizzas and bourbon. I am helpless when it comes to cooking, so I need things that can be heated up easily; otherwise, I’ll try to survive on Chinese food and Taco Bell, which isn’t a good idea at all. In case you were wondering, I buy the bourbon for medicinal purposes only. I like to convince myself that I’m sick all winter long so I have an excuse to drink it. Before I leave the store, I’ll buy Kleenex and some hot chocolate.

Every year I think that I’ll get through the winter without getting depressed, but every year, about the third week of January, Seasonal Affective Disorder sets in. Maybe it’s because I tend to be a little reclusive, or maybe it’s because by the third week of January, I have to buy my brother’s birthday gift, but I know that I won’t get to see him, because he lives in San Diego . I’ll think about him out there, suffering in 60-degree weather and then I’ll lower the cost of his gift by fifteen dollars, just because I know he is happier where he lives. Eventually I’ll call him to apologize and then I’ll tell him I’m impecunious thanks to my rising gas bill. He’ll tell me it’s all right and we might tell each other we’ll see each other soon, in a year or five.

I am not one to be depressed. I am generally on an even keel emotionally, though my writing might suggest otherwise. However, I do think that I get a mild form of S.A.D. Some people really have a problem in climates deprived of sunlight. They become suicidal, agoraphobic, lethargic and even a little bit fatter. I guess it’s not easy to diagnose someone with S.A.D., since it is so similar to depression. Doctors recommend light treatment. This can include sitting in front of a simulated sunrise, or getting one of those sunrise alarm clock lamps that get brighter and brighter in the morning. Waking up to the sun is natural to humans. Waking up in the dark is natural to vampires.

I don’t like Florida, because it just seems like the fallback vacation spot for most people. I also don’t like sharks, because they bite, and there have been a lot more attacks down there in recent years, but you know the one thing Florida has that the Illinois doesn’t in January? Warm weather. In two to three months, I will start dreaming of Florida. Hell, I might even dream about living in a retirement community down there, watching my skin develop a texture similar to a baseball glove.

Winter is near. I’ll try to be cheerful and hopeful. I’ll think about purchasing a fake sunrise. Maybe I’ll just put National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation on repeat, grab my bourbon and knuckle down. Good luck with your plans and make sure your friends don’t get S.A.D.

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