Sheltered Islander: Warming Up to the Shelter Island Cold

It's cold outside
It's cold outside, Photo: aetb/iStock/Thinkstock

One tricky little part of civilized life is literally coming in from the cold.

Whenever you come in from the cold, you try to discipline yourself to hang up your coat, put away your boots and hat and put your purse in its designated location before you flop on the couch. But you don’t always make it. On those occasions, you flop on the couch, still dressed in coat, hat and boots, and tell yourself you’ll get up and put your things away later, after you get warm.

However, then you make the mistake of turning the TV on. Few people know that when a TV is on, it activates the magno-foam cores in the center of couch cushions. Magno-foam, short for magnetic foam, draws the human buttocks deep into couch cushions, and makes escape nearly impossible. The magno-foam only releases you to answer nature’s call or the call of treats from the kitchen.

When you do finally rise, you just push all your stuff into the corner of the couch. Why bother putting everything away now? It’s late, and you’re just going to pull it all out anyway. So you might as well just leave it on the couch until morning.

Coming in from the cold with kids is tough. You barely have your purse down before boots and hats and wet coats are flying everywhere, punctuated by, “Mommy, my zipper is stuck,” usually yelled out with tearful frustration. Whether your man came in with you or not is immaterial. Men don’t do cold, fussy children. Men dematerialize as they enter the front door and rematerialize seconds later in their recliners. While moms deal with drippy noses and lost mittens, dads are obligated to watch SportsCenter ASAP because the world cannot turn if they don’t know what happened in football since they left the house.

Of course, if there are no kids around, men commonly test their theory that bras contain heating tape that can quickly warm their freezing hands. The fact that the bras already have an occupant does not seem to affect the experiment.

My husband watched an Alaskan survival show that told of the Inuit custom of a husband warming up his bare frozen feet on the stomach of his wife. The show claimed it was actually a good practice, since using body warmth is the best way to warm very cold hands or feet. He wanted to test it with me. I told him no modern women with half a brain would ever consent to participating in such a demeaning act. In my defense, I would like to say that I got a lovely new set of china from warming his feet that winter.

Probably the trickiest thing to manage is when you are trying to bring in children and groceries at the same time. You have to spontaneously split yourself in half so one of you can bring in the bags while the other fights off children who are tearing the bags open to get treats. My worst parenting moments were when I found it necessary to accidentally bump the children in the back of the head with a bag of Hershey’s Kisses to slow them down. I was grateful on those occasions that the old man was in his recliner, so he never saw that. It was very easy for me to pretend that Mommy bumped the spawn of Satan by accident.

One year I had the idea of putting a big box by the door and dropping all coats, hats and gloves in it. It worked well until my mother visited. She did not approve. She wanted everything neatly put away. I protested vehemently, and when I turned to march out of the room, someone hit me in the back of my head with a bag of Hershey’s Kisses.

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