Snow is a wonderful thing. It causes frost to form in the corners of windows and makes you feel lucky to be warm and on the other side. It gives the world a softer appearance and makes time with loved ones seem to last just a little longer. The way snow clings to the branches of pines on Libe slope accents crystalline December sunrises over the clock tower.
Okay, let’s get serious: None of those is the main reason I like snow (Ladies: that’s not true. I love snow for all those reasons). I like snow because it brings the season of epic wipe-outs to campus.
Am I a terrible person for getting excited when people do face-plants in a snow bank? Probably. Is falling on the ice even funny? Not really … unless, on occasion, you fall on the ice yourself. Trust me, I don’t make all these scenarios up — most have happened to me at some point. I have been falling in snow and on ice since I was a wee lad of seven in the tundra that is Rochester, New York. Not only have I been falling on the ice forever, I have been just plain falling forever. Even in the summer, navigating the slopes and stairs of campus in sandals is a frightening experience for me (but I really don’t like shoes so I take the risk). If you can’t embrace the fact that everyone falls at Cornell sooner or later, then you should stop reading now.
There is a very small window of opportunity to witness the biggest and best wipe-outs. Why is this window of opportunity so small? After all, it snows what feels like all year round in Ithaca.
First, there are many “snow virgins” on campus at the first snow of the year — those people from Southern California, Florida and the Deep South who believe that the seven snowflakes they saw in a snow globe in a Christmas novelty shop constitute a blizzard. These students have not yet learned the hazards of black ice, or the pitfalls of snowdrifts, or the humiliation of sliding on black ice into a snow drift.
Second, there is a finite amount of time in winter when the fine women of Cornell have yet to replace their high heels with UGGs (thank you Rush Week). Heels are precarious at best in dry weather, but combine them with icy curbs and a little too much spiced rum, and you’re in for a treat.
Finally, since by the time of the first snow the weather has gotten just that much colder, people walk just that much faster to avoid the cold, snow and wind. It is this little extra haste, with the added distraction of trying to catch a snowflake on their tongue (okay maybe that’s just me) that causes them to take a tumble.
Where is the best place to see such spectacles, you may ask? Well, my readers (okay, it’s optimistic to add the “s”) — well, my reader, it’s Rush and you have better things to do than read my column; but if you are still reading, one excellent place is in a “No Winter Maintenance” area. The spills that take place here are especially funny because they take on a superior sense of irony. These people think they are too sure-footed to slip and fall. Obviously they aren’t.
Another great place is the front window of CTB. This corner is great because you get slips from all different demographics; the drunk sorority girl (I’ve been really mean to you in this column, I promise I’m only kidding), the C-town frat-bro, and the engineer who has been in Duffield for three days straight and, judging by the crocs he is wearing, didn’t realize the change in the weather. It is a veritable tossed salad of wipe-outs.
My personal favorite of all the people who bite it are the ones who get up and look around to see if anyone saw them fall. Who do you think cares? (Besides me of course.) Do you really think people are judging you for falling? Trust me they aren’t judging you, and if they are it would probably be better if you didn’t know they were, so stop looking around and start concentrating on where you place your feet (that’s like Falling 101). The only thing that is funnier, for me, than a person looking around after falling is when someone looks around after falling and falls again because they were too focused on their own embarrassment and didn’t pay enough attention to their slush-covered feet (Dear guy who did exactly that outside CTB, thank you for making my night).
So Cornell, pay attention out there, the world is a dangerous place. But if you do find yourself on your back in the snow, remember falling is just a part of life. It happens to everyone. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, especially on Cornell’s hills. The only thing you should be ashamed of is if you find yourself unable to laugh about it. Not having a sense of humor is something to be ashamed of. Happy falling!
Will Spencer is a senior in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org . Tripping Up Stairs appears alternate Thursdays this semester.