February 23, 2007

It's a Mad Max Kind of Saturday Night

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To Justin Weitz ‘07, who, in his Feb. 7th column “Don’t Know Much About History,” most snidely denounced the Sun columnist’s propensity to comment on the weather in Ithaca:

As I literally slid down Seneca Street on Saturday night in my knit black bubble skirt and three-inch heeled boots, little sounds escaping from me as a friend guided my paralyzed form down the hill, I couldn’t help but think of you. Yes, we had all thought that the great Valentine’s Day Snow Dump of 2007 was the worst that Ithaca had to offer this year, but when those first few stubborn flakes began to stick on Saturday afternoon, it was obvious that a whole new beast had been released: this snow was really, really slippery.
Now, in my four years here I thought I had seen every kind of weather Ithaca could throw at me. Freshmen complain about the recent bout of four-degree (well, negative-twelve with the wind chill) weather – kids, when I was your age we could sculpt giant snow penises every damn weekend of spring semester. And we’d have to walk fifteen miles up Libe Slope – both ways – to do it. Obviously, when it took us a good twenty minutes to slide down from Eddy Street to the Chapter House, I figured that my friend and I were just paying the Ithaca gods their due.
Why venture out at all, you ask? Back up five hours. Having just recovered from one of Ithaca’s first flu strains, I was stubbornly determined to go dancing that night; having spent all week looking exactly the way that I felt, I was equally determined to resemble a woman again. Now as an Ithacan, weather has ingrained itself as one of the single most persistent factors weighing on my prudent mind. I live about a mile off-campus, and every morning I lay out the clothing that will allow me to survive just long enough to collapse in the lobby of Olin, red-faced, runny-nosed and half-frozen. Weather.com is on my Google toolbar (next to Cornell Webmail, Facebook and Wikipedia) — a quick glance at the hourly forecast will let me know whether I need to fit a hat, umbrella, and heat-sealing face mask in my backpack. Last week’s snowstorm, coupled with my illness, prevented me from making it to Wegman’s — and therefore consuming any nutritional substance — for five whole days.
I therefore consider it an act of the utmost bravery that, after biting my nails at the window for an hour on Saturday evening, I chose to shelve my impenetrable snow boots in favor of something a little leggier. Alright, so the first indication that these fantastic leather boots were not the most prudent choice should have been during my trek to Collegetown, when a car actually veered off of Mitchell and up onto the sidewalk in front of me. The last time I looked back, having climbed through several sizeable dunes up to level ground, the car was at a 45 degree angle, and had caused traffic to jam all the way up the road. Nonetheless, I was not quite in the clear. The entire first block of sidewalk on College Avenue was an unsalted deathtrap; trashcans, recycling bins, beer bottles, and bits of clothing were poking up out of the snow. I had clearly stumbled into some post-apocalyptic frozen wasteland, and these were the last remaining vestiges of human civilization. Those who had mustered the courage to leave their houses were bundled together on street corners, eyeing me warily as I leapt nimbly between patches of clear ground. And yet still, readers, still I marched on.
However, by the time I skidded into Pixel, greeted by sturdy ground and the warm sounds of DJ Beck, I had slid into enough students to discover that I wasn’t alone in my courageous weekend venture: girls all over Collegetown Proper were teetering slowly through the snow. So here’s to you, women of Ithaca, who in your pumps, stilettos, platforms and jeweled flats defy the most dire of conditions to reassert your femininity. We will not go on dates in sneakers. We will not set foot on the dance floor in Uggs. Boys, the next time you open your mouths to question the practicality of a girl’s footwear, I urge you instead to offer a word of admiration for her willpower, her endurance, and whatever bruises she may have acquired throughout the course of the night. Indeed, as I crossed Dryden on my way home that night, a girl beside me smiled in solidarity, remarking, “Great boots.” Don’t I know it.