Saturday, March 12, 2005

Weather or Not.

The children came tumbling and racing out of school, shorts fluttering in the breeze, jackets tied around waists. Well after the last racer hit the monkey bars, Daughter came out, placing one weary foot in front of another, sweaty hair plastered to her head. She croaked “Water” and plodded to the drinking fountain. My friend and fellow maternal traveler Veronica glanced at Daughter’s ensemble of turtleneck and corduroy jumper and enquired dryly “Trying to sweat a couple of extra pounds off of her in time for bathing suit season?”

I would have defended myself but I was applying a cold compress to Daughter’s neck. Once again, I failed at Things Everyone Knows.

Los Angeles gets four kinds of days:

1. Pleasant and sunny,
2. Monsoon,
3. Scorching, hell-no-longer-holds-fear-for-me hot, (This is when an Eyewitless news crew finds some poor bastard tiling a roof at noon, so we can all agree “Wow! It’s even hotter on a roof!” No one ever asks the guy whether it’s even hotter if you’re being asked stupid questions)
4. Overcast in the morning, warm in the afternoon.

The weather for the last week in Southern California has been overcast in the morning, warm in the afternoon. Every single day, overcast in the morning, warm in the afternoon. This is not complicated; this isn’t overcast in the morning, Pi to the 15th place in the afternoon. So someone please explain to me why every morning I stuck my head out, looked at the sky, and like some especially stupid groundhog, declared six more weeks of winter? I would drag out Daughter’s cold-weather options, and she would pick the one most suited to the Eisenhower administration and get dressed. I cringe to admit I even insisted on tights one day. By the time we got to school, only five miles away, the sun would already be breaking through and the first beads of sweat would be dotting her forehead.

The question is, why? What part of my brain failed to develop causing my daughter to have to wear ski pants in May? It’s a larger issue. Much like animals without opposable thumbs, when it comes to weather, I have no concept of future. There is only now. We will be going somewhere as a family, and Consort will say to me “I’m going to get Daughter a jacket, for when it gets cooler later. Did you get your jacket?”, and I stare at him blankly. Cooler? Later? But, it’s warm now. Now is all that there is. The sun will always be at the exact spot in the sky where it is now. Consort has a post-graduate degree, but it’s not in Psychology, so for a while there, he would try to reason with me.

“I know it isn’t cold now. But the sun will go down. And it will get cold.”
“It’s perfectly warm”
“I agree. Now it is perfectly warm. Later, at the beach, when the sun goes down, it will get cold”
“No, it won’t. It’s warm outside”

He stopped reasoning with me about the same time he stopped reasoning with the cat. Apparently, we were giving him the same shiny, unresponsive look. Consort just packs a spare jacket to casually hand to me when my teeth-chattering becomes irritating to people down the beach. He has also learned not to point out how the weather has changed as I become irritable and refuse to wear anything that would indicate my discomfort. Besides, Consort knows I am fully prepared to die of exposure in order to prove a point.

Heaven help me if rain is forecast for the afternoon, and the sky isn’t jet-black and threatening that morning. I refuse to accept that clouds move, and that a sunny morning isn’t an irrefutable indication of permanent good weather. I am convinced meteorologists are just trying to get everyone to pay attention to them when they predict afternoon showers. This meant that I and I alone was seen in Birkenstocks and shorts when we got a season’s worth of rain in one afternoon last month. I wrung them out and put them on again the next morning because the clouds broke for the length of time it took me to walk outside and get the paper. Every afternoon at Daughter’s school was a show I like to call “Quinn isn’t my real mommy”. I would slop into the schoolyard resembling a pile of used rags in summery colors carrying her raincoat and boots because, that morning, I had dressed her for the Perma-clime that lives in my head. Another day, I would wrap her in the outer layer of my sodden, warm-weather clothing and hustle her to the car, avoiding eye contact with the parents walking in, their umbrellas and waterproof shoes a sartorial mockery of my mothering skills.

Some day, I will prove my detractors wrong. Daughter will show up at school in a matching appliquéd shorts-and-shirt ensemble, or maybe a strappy little smocked dress; and I will have the last laugh. Oh, what a sweet November day that will be.


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