“By the time you swear you're his,
Shivering and sighing.
And he vows his passion is,
Lady make note of this --
One of you is lying.”
I memorized this little verse during my Dorothy Parker days in my 20s. I'm sure there is absolutely no correlation between this particular verse and what was going on in my 20s. Leave that errant thought behind Dear Reader. What you need to know is that Dorothy Parker was infinitely more talented than her cynical quips and ditties about romance,
But oh she had such wit!
More recently than my 20s, I was able to pull another one of Parker's famous lines out from the recesses of my memory when my yoga teacher sprung one of her lesser used props on us one evening. I came into the yoga studio to find she had placed these carefully carved wooden devices (that look like broken coat hangars) next to each mat, What we were to do with them I did not know, but I was sure they would be coming into contact with my body in some way. I turned to the woman beside me and said, "What fresh hell is this?"
My use of the quip aptly suited the moment, but even better is how Parker herself originally used it. Reportedly, she'd say it in response to a telephone or doorbell ringing.
What fresh hell indeed.
Thank you for the segue Dorothy. And so I write this during the first week of January.
I live on the west coast of British Columbia where, it is true, we live in an earthquake zone, but we are also blessed with the mildest weather in Canada. Still, we like to talk about the weather like other Canadians. Sometimes I find it funny when life long west coasters, (those rare individuals who haven't come here from somewhere else), talk about winter.
And by winter I don't mean grey skies and incessant heavy rain as we mean on the west coast, I mean ice and snow as experienced by the rest of the province and country.
This week I overheard a darling stairwell conversation by several folks who were eagerly citing the coldest temperatures they ever experienced. Their tales were qualified by details explaining the singularity of their experiences.
"One time we went to Winnipeg for Christmas and it got down to -30!."
"Oh yeah, well I visited a friend in Yellowknife in March one time and with the wind chill, it was -50"
Here's me sounding west coast precious. Several years ago, (the last time we had snow here), I overheard some moms in the playground complaining about having to drag out all the snow clothes for their kids for the snowfall we'd just had the day before. It was an extra pain because they were just going to have to put it all back in a few days when the snow was gone. There was not a hint of sarcasm in their voices. They were truly put out.
Still, the days are short and we have to layer-up like other Canadians. Except of course the mail carriers who wear shorts all year long. (But we all know they are originally from Ontario and they just do that so they can call their friends in Toronto in January and say, "Yeah, I wore shorts again today.")
Best thing about winter is hibernating. A cup of something warm and a good book. I just finished reading Dorothy Parker Drank Here, by Ellen Meister. If you like Dorothy Parker or don't know anything about her and want a taste before you dive directly into her work, I recommend. It's a good, quick, fun read.
Thank you Dorothy. Thank you winter. As you were.