Snow in Knoxville is a religious event. It doesn’t happen often and, when it does, people have a tendency to freak out. As Southerners, we have no idea how to drive in snow. We believe that all we will really need during a snowstorm is milk and toilet paper. And we tend to look up at the sky in awe as this odd white material falls gracefully from the skies we once trusted.
Think of the children in the fields of Medugorje or Fatima or wherever the hell it was when the Virgin Mary appeared unto them, told them seven secrets, gave them three wishes and then turned into a flying monkey and screeched away, fire flying from her hideous mouth, scorching the countryside. That is what happened, isn’t it?
Anyway, that’s how we are down here. Snow just seems wrong. We don’t understand it. It fucks our shit up.
What is happening now isn’t even exactly snow. It’s called graupel, which means “snow pellets.” Harder than snow, not quite sleet, graupel is like the weird little ice pellets they have at Sonic… except, of course, infinitesimally smaller. But nobody wants to say, “We’re having a graupel shower!” or “Oh, how lovely the graupelfall looks against the sunrise!” Because that is stupid.
Schools have closed for the day, an hour early. Cootiebug has the truck. She called me as she was on her way to pick up Mogwai. During the midst of the conversation, the truck began to slide out of control. Oddly enough, it was under an interstate overpass, where there was no graupel and where you would think there would be no moisture on the ground. It was enough to freak her out a smidgen, because it was completely unexpected. Obviously, there’s something else going on with this particular snowfall. Perhaps it is some kind of enemy attack.
Do you need more proof?
As I look out the sliding door in my living room which overlooks the back parking lot, I can see the entire back lot covered in a fine layer of snow, a sheet of white, like the world’s largest goose sneezed and all the feathers fell off its ass. But when I look out the front parking lot, where I usually park, there’s hardly a flake. There’s maybe a bit on the sidewalk, a little bit starting to pillow up by the dumpster, but beyond that, it’s pure blacktop.
And why is this? I think it is because the gods hate the South. And every time it snows, it is just one sheer blast of derision. The gods rock back on their sacred heels, just hee-hawing as they watch us try to get home from work or build a snowman that doesn’t look like Joseph Merrick.
This is the devil’s snow.
And here’s the funny part. There’s only maybe a sixteenth of an inch of snow on the ground. THIS is enough to bring a city to a standstill and a frenzy! The grocery stores are a cannibalistic holocaust as people fight for foodstuffs and sundries. Children, set free from school, roam the countryside like ragers, sick with a terrible disease known only as “Winteritis.” The adults fret wondering if they will be able to drive where they need to. Work don’t close just cuz it snows, kids. Mother Nature can get your ass fired.
And why are the roads slick? We’ve known for at least three days that this snow was coming, yet Cootie has hit numerous slippery spots on the roads. Why the hell has Knox County not salted the roads?
I’ll tell you why.
Under the beauty lies horror.
And I will sit here and nervously wait until my Bride gets home safely and soundly. When that happens, and only when that happens, will I be able to gaze outside through a double-insulated window and say to my family, “It’s so pretty here in the winter.”