Thursday, December 27, 2007

A heads up on one of winter's little-known perils.

Nanook here, with a cautionary tale for those suffering from winter naivete. (Bear with me as I set up the story. Trust me. This is stuff you need to know).

My Nana used to take the bus to work at the Minneapolis YMCA, where she was in charge of babysitting while moms and dads exercised. You can see from this photo that she really loved those kids.

The gig was a good fit for her and a blast for my sister and me, who got to go with her once in awhile.

It was an old-school gym, with contraptions like this:

The idea was to sit on the rollers, flip the switch, and the butt fat would magically vanish. Regrettably, the gizmo didn't work, but it was no less effective than the treadmill-laundry rack in the corner of the family room.

They also had one of these:

(Equally lame, results-wise.)

So back to my story. Nana rode the bus through bad neighborhoods to work in a place which housed many deadly-looking devices. The bus ride was especially tricky in the winter, and because she was afraid of slipping on the ice, she wore rubber overshoes to give her traction on the treacherous Minneapolis streets.

But one fateful January day, as she cautiously made her way from the bus stop to the Y, she was randomly attacked.

By one of these:

It knocked her out cold. The doorman at the Y saw it happen, and Nana was rushed to Hennepin County General Hospital, where she was stitched up and sent home.

The moral of this story is that you never know. If you worry about your feet slipping on the ice, you will probably be impaled by an icicle from overhead.

I relearned this lesson last fall. When my son got a new housemate, I worried this stranger might be a pothead or a bounder.

After a few weeks, I asked how the new guy was working out. Danny squirmed a little as he told me. "He's a gun enthusiast."

Didn't see that coming.

Incidentally, you can find another example of misplaced anxiety in the national consciousness. While we're worrying about our country being attacked by terrorists, our Constitution might be eviscerated by war mongers. Didn't see that coming, either.

A postscript to the icicle story: Nana was happy when the snow melted that year, knowing she would neither slip on the ice nor be an icicle target. But one day that spring, she was looking in her purse for bus fare after work and once again got clobbered.

By one of these:

Like I said. You never know.

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