In January, 2010, the snow started and didn’t stop. And as our driveway became rather clogged with white stuff, the marital tension grew. So I solved the problem. I wrote a column on it. It became one of the most popular columns I ever wrote.
From time to time, my wife tells me I’m not like most other husbands. Some men, she points out, know how to do things like use a hammer, work a saw and build things around the house. I’ve explained that I’ve built stuff. In fourth grade I built a birdhouse in Cub Scouts.
To compound things, I have a brother-in-law who doubles as Ty Pennington. Every couple months he takes on a new extreme makeover. “Butch added another garage! Plus a skylight and entire wing for his tools.” Yawn.
I’m not big into lawn maintenance either. As a kid I cut hundreds of lawns for 90-year-old widows who thought a nickel still bought a Coke and wanted to pay me accordingly, for mowing in 110-degree heat while I inhaled enough grass to sod a farm. No more. Raking leaves is not my strong suit, either. Leaves should be left where they fall. Circle of life stuff, until they reach their final resting ground, which hopefully is in the neighbor’s yard.
And so this may shock you, but I don’t like to shovel snow. My wife says you can’t fairly evaluate something until you’ve tried it once. No need to attempt it when I can watch the dads in our subdivision give it their best. They start to shovel at the first flake while I draw the blinds. And then the tension rises. My wife says I’m lazy. She says other things you cannot print in a family newspaper. That’s OK. I can barely hear her when she is outside. Shoveling.
All of this came to a head on Christmas night. We were driving home after a visit to my mother-in-law in Prairie Village and we pulled into our block. There he was — snow guy was shoveling his drive. It was dark out, roughly 7 p.m.
My wife stared at him admiringly. “Look at Steve. Boys, take a long look at that real man.”
Her invitation to the three dudes in the back of the car got no traction. The teenagers briefly glanced up from their phones and rightfully questioned the wisdom of shoveling at night during a snowstorm in subzero temperatures. They went back to texting. My wife continued: “Sure would be nice to walk down his driveway.”
I quickly turned the corner to ours, shifting to four-wheel drive and flooring it to bust through the drifts. What a feeling. On the 26th, with more snow and wind chills in single digits, guess what snow guy was doing. Yep, single-handedly taking on a blizzard. Mother Nature, who had an army of snow and ice trucks on the ropes all night, was no doubt laughing hysterically. She had company.
But for those who share my view about a common sense approach to snow removal — meaning none — I’ve got your back. Let’s start with the news reports of men who go out to shovel and drop over dead. Heart attacks and shoveling go hand in hand. In the last week, there was a story of a football coach who was 58 and in good physical health. Dead. I believe that’s what did in former sheriff Marion Weese many years ago. Another story concerned a 53-year-old man who “suffered a heart attack ... while clearing his drive.” The story said it left his family “absolutely stunned.” Call me weird — I’d like to celebrate a couple more birthdays.
More proof: the Consumer Products Safety Commission reported more than 118,000 people treated for back injuries directly related to shoveling snow.
And if marital disharmony comes from not shoveling, consider the alternative, illustrated by this Council Bluffs, Iowa, snow freak who demanded his wife help him shovel. The Iowa news report: “Police arrested a man who allegedly assaulted his wife when she refused to help him shovel snow.” Seems he traded his shovel for pinstripes. But you should see his driveway. Immaculate.
So I’m sticking with my original plan. Enlisting someone who’s been around a while to help me with the snow. The sun. With all the chatter about global warming, let’s make some lemonade.