Winter Storm Helena has moved through the United States, leaving a frosty wake along the way; parts of the Western U.S. saw a few feet of powder, while the Eastern U.S. was blanketed in a combo of ice and snow. So there’s a good chance that if you’re reading this, you’re in the midst of a snow day—those glorious, and all-too-infrequent reprieves from school and work. I grew up in the South and have a special place in my heart reserved for snow days, which offer a mix of excitement and trepidation below the Mason Dixon. On the one hand, snow is fun. You get to sled, have snowball fights, ski, build igloos…On the other hand, one out of every three people will die from either exposure or by driving their rear wheel VW off of a cliff. In the South, when the snow starts to fall, you look to the person on your left, then to the person on your right. One of you will not live to see tomorrow.
Of course, I’m kidding, but that’s the general sense of doom Southerners get when the temperature drops and snow falls from the sky. We all become insane preppers who scour the local Ingles for milk and bread on the off chance that we’re stuck in our houses for more than six hours and we have to start making milk and bread sandwiches.
At least, that’s the stereotype. The rest of the country makes fun of the South for how we handle a little snow and ice, but I think a snow day in the Southern United States is a beautiful thing, and I’ve prepared a bulleted argument to convince you.
Exhibit A: We don’t go to work. We don’t go to school. If there’s even a threat of frozen precipitation on the 10-day radar, we go ahead and reschedule anything that would require a tie or number two pencil. The rest of the country scoffs at us as they stoically dig out their cars and trudge to work in the midst of a blizzard, but we’re getting extra days off, so who’s the sucker now?
Exhibit B: There are no laws in the South when it snows. As soon as the powder starts to gather on my lawn, I crack a beer and start wandering the streets with an open container while shooting fireworks. Anything goes on a snow day. The more snow that falls, the more you can get away with. A couple of years ago, during a storm that was dropping a solid foot on our corner of the Southern Appalachians, I happened to be in a situation where I found myself mixed in with a group of guys carrying a small hatchback down the road. I’m not sure why, but it was important (and funny as hell) that we move this car two blocks down the street. A cop drove by as we were half way through the mission. He rolled his window down and gave us a thumbs up, then kept on going.
Exhibit C: Snow days are the second greatest excuse for day drinking in the South, sandwiched securely between the Kentucky Derby and an Allman Brothers concert. I’m not sure why we hit the booze so hard, but I suspect it has something to do with our uneasy sense of doom from all the cold weather and the fact that there are no laws. Since a third of us are probably gonna die anyway, we might as well get drunk and enjoy it.
So, in that doomed, yet giddy, spirit, here’s your guide to drinking through a snow day like a Southerner.
The day starts with one word: Bloody Mary. Okay, that’s two words, but whatever. Stop being a dick. Also, eat a heavy breakfast—lots of eggs and bacon. Then pull out that big Stanley thermos, the one that looks like you’re going to work at the auto plant, and fill it a third of the way with of vodka, a third with V8 juice, then add salt, pepper, hot sauce, lime juice, lemon juice and Worcestershire sauce and a few pinches of brown sugar. Stir. Your kids are going to want you to fill that thermos with hot chocolate, but it’s every man for himself on snow days. The sooner your kids learn that, the better.
Head to the sledding hill and watch your kids undergo mild, but repetitive, brain injuries as they slide down the hill bouncing off trees and trash cans. Announce to any parents around that you have a batch of Bloody Marys you’d like to share. If they’re cool, they’ll have Mimosas that they want to share with you. If they’re not cool, keep the Bloody Marys to yourself and move on to the next batch of parents.
When your Stanley is empty and your kids are dizzy and bleeding, it’s time for lunch. Pile the wet clothes in front of the fireplace and eat cans of soup and toasted cheese sandwiches. This is the only acceptable lunch on a snow day and I’ll fight anyone who disagrees. PM me and I’ll give you my address, loser. Actually, there is one exception: if you have a can of Vienna Sausages on hand, you can eat that. Canned oysters too. I’m reasonable, so I’ll make exceptions for any canned meat or fish. Also, you’ve had a thermos of Bloody Marys at this point, so you should slow down on the booze and grab a macro lager (it’s acceptable to drink shitty beer during snow days) or a sessionable pale ale—both styles actually go really well with Vienna Sausages.
In the afternoon, roam the neighborhood with a flask of whiskey in your chest pocket and stuff as many canned beers as you can in your coat pockets. You’re looking for anyone who needs help getting their car out of a snow bank. Pushing cars while carrying a light, day drinking buzz is good fun. Hand out the beers to random neighbors you see on the streets, and the mailman if he’s out and about. The whiskey is for you. Every time you take a nip, make a comment about how the whiskey is medicinal to help fight the cold.
If you’re lucky, you’ll find a bunch of neighborhood kids having a snow ball fight. Join in! Start with some lighthearted throws where you aim the snowballs at their legs. This will give you a chance to read the group and figure out who the weak links are. Use the knowledge to divide the group and conquer. Take one kid under your wing and show him how to pack snow around a chunk of ice, then move on relishing your “Big Brother” mentoring moment. The children are our future.
Before the sun sets, pull aside the child you love the most (you know you have a favorite) and take some time to build a snowman with him/her. Carving out quality time (with your favorite child) is so important, even on a snow day when there are no laws. I find a dirty martini with three olives pairs well with quality time.
Dinner should be comprised of whatever leftovers don’t smell like rotten Indian food, heated up half-ass in the microwave. Drink a glass of water, because you’ve been hitting it pretty hard. Also, after dinner, it’s gonna get real when you sit by the fire and pull out some barrel-aged gem you’ve been saving for a special occasion. This snow day is that special occasion. Personally, I’m hitting a crowler of Oskar Blues’ Rum-Barrel-Aged Ten Fiddy, which is as decadent and boozy as it sounds.
You want to finish strong, so if you have any fireworks left over, head out into your front yard and shoot them over your neighbor’s house, the one who always asks when you’re going to move the kiddie pool into the backyard. Watch the light show reflect on the snow blanketing the ground, and marvel at the double image. At this point, you’ve probably received a recorded message from your kids’ principal saying that school is canceled for tomorrow too, because there’s a single patch of ice on one road, somewhere on the outskirts of the school district.
So you get to do this all again tomorrow. You’re gonna need more vodka. More beer. Long live the snow day.