So you’ve decided to live in the tundra

It’s usually around this time of year that I begin to question the idea that mankind is a creature of uncommon intelligence.

It seems like we are, right? We’ve got medicine and smart phones and Bagel Bites and the Interstate Highway System; all of the trappings of creatures capable of adapting their environment to suit their specific needs as a species.

Then winter hits.

Why, oh why, did ancient man choose to settle upon the land that one day would become Iowa? Why did they stay in a place that tempts one with an agreeable spring, a hot but manageable summer, a brilliant fall, then unleashes a torrent of ice and wind the likes of which has the other mammals scurrying away to various caves and hovels to sleep through the next few dreary months?

I’m just going to assume alcohol was involved.

Once again ancient man has placed the order but modern man must pay the bill.

So as the skies grey and the sun hides and the urge to hibernate becomes overwhelming we all need to remember the one simple truth of living in the Arctic nightmare that is Iowa in winter: You still have to go to work.

And it’s on that happy note that I provide you, my dear readers, with a quick list of tried and true methods to not only survive but to thrive in the harshest of Iowa winters.

1: Don’t be the “Shorts Guy”

Hey! You know who is super tough and extra awesome and makes all the ladies swoon with his exposed legs and decreasing body temp? That’s right, it’s Shorts Guy!

Shorts Guy was just waiting to hear people start complaining about the cold so he could throw on a pair of Umbros and head out to the gas station, eager to meet the questioning stares and attendants’ inquiries with the line he has been rehearsing for weeks since Halloween: “What?”

You know exactly “what,” Shorts Guy! I don’t know the kind of people snow-shorts impresses, but I honestly hope they don’t vote.

Don’t be this guy.

2: Visit distant friends who live in a warm place

Do you have any friends in warmer climates? Feel like visiting them? How long do you think you can sleep on their couch until you’ve expended every iota of friendship-capital that will ever exist between you two? Five days? Hey, that’s five days without freezing on the two-minute walk to your car; so what if it cost a friendship?

What if you don’t have any friends in warm climates? I suggest taking to Facebook, or your preferred “what does my former highschool classmate look like now?” social media platform and look somebody up. Maybe somebody you went to school with, or somebody you vaguely remember as a relative or maybe somebody you knew at camp.

If you still come up empty, contact a stranger and just pretend to be a long lost cousin. We’re talking about escaping an Iowa winter here, people! Leave no stone unturned!

3: Get fat

As a fat man I am usually the last person in a room to be cold. I still get cold, I assure you, but I’m the last guy to go looking for a blanket.

If you’re looking to pack on the pounds quickly, winter is the perfect time. You’ve got Thanksgiving right at the beginning of the season to start your weight gain regimen with a nice gravy and mashed potato base.

December brings with it all sorts of Christmas cookies, inscrutable desserts of all fashion, and a host of items you ordered from co-workers’ children sometime in July that you had completely forgotten about until you get to work and a solid pound of fudge is sitting on your desk.

January is reserved for any Christmas desserts that didn’t get eaten the first time around. You want to stay warm in winter? Better learn to love fruitcake.

February has Valentine’s Day and all the requisite heart-and/or-egg shaped candy you could need.

So by the time March rolls around you’ll have barely noticed winter has come and gone from underneath your insulating layer of boredom and poor impulse control.

And on the first day of spring you can start to lose the weight just as easily! All you need to do is … hang on … I’m typing this while eating a McGriddle … actually, I’m just going to finish the McGriddle; I’m sure you can figure out how to lose all the weight on your own.

4: Lie to yourself

Remember earlier in the column when I said that this list will help you “thrive” in the winter? That was a lie. You know what thrives in the winter? Broadly drawn Russian caricatures and shovel-wielding youth; anyone else is simply trying to survive until spring.

So what should you be lying to yourself about? Everything.

Is it really, really cold out?

No, it’s really, really “brisk!”

Should my face hurt when I’m outdoors?

Your face doesn’t hurt, it’s “invigorated!”

Will this desolate winter ever end?

Yes, I’m sure it will thaw any day now; the birds will chirp and the sun will shine and you’ll get that promotion you’ve been seeking and all the peoples of the world will join hands and sing your praises.

5: Bunker mentality

We’re in this for the long haul, people! Winter is just starting and according to some totally-just-a-theory “science” out there our winters are now refreshingly unpredictable! We’ve just got to hunker down, ride this one out, and leave the Umbros in the dresser until at least April.


Copy Editor Wes Burns is a Sunday columnist. The views expressed in this column are personal views of the writer and don’t necessarily reflect the views of the T-R. Contact Wes Burns at 641-753-6611 or wburns@timesrepublican.com.