Saturday, January 17, 2009


You check the weather on your friend's laptop before heading home. Nine degrees, it says, and you wonder what that feels like. After a certain point, isn't it all the same? Nine degrees is the same as twenty degrees, you think, which in turn is the same as thirty degrees. (You are naïve and foolish.) Nine degrees is a comical number that matters only to scientists and lumberjacks in Alaska! you chuckle to yourself as you turn onto First Avenue.

You travel all of three blocks before realizing you are wrong--very, very wrong. Nine degrees is freezing. Nine degrees is way below freezing. Nine degrees is so cold that your fingers are turning purple. Nine degrees locks your jaw and makes the leg hair between your jeans and your socks stand on end. Nine degrees gives you brain freeze.

You reach your apartment, convinced that your toes will never bend again. You dig around your bag for your keys: a difficult task, given your numbing lack of dexterity. You dig and you dig and you dig five more times before you come to your second realization of the evening: you don't have your keys. You panic. You stop panicking; someone must be home.

You buzz once. Nothing. You buzz again. Nothing; a gust of air blows under your coat and you feel your blood congealing. You buzz for a third time and bang on the door. Nobody's home. You had thought, at one point, that you would soon be in bed, reading on the Internet about things that are nine degrees. But now it's past midnight, your body is the temperature of the ice on the sidewalk, and you are stuck outside your apartment without a way in.

You are never so grateful to be home as you are an hour later, when your roommate finally gets back and your fingers start to burn in reverse from thawing so suddenly.


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