Richmond Gets a Snow Job

by Paul Caputo and Jeffrey Carl

Peculiar to the State


Hi. We are Jeff and Paul. This week, we will be your kooky Eskimo pals, Nanook and Elvis.

            If you turned on your TV last week-end, you undoubtedly saw your normally-calm local weather person (Biff or Bunny McGargle) in an all-out panic. His or her hair was disheveled, articles of clothing were buttoned wrong and he or she grabbed hold of the camera with both hands and stared at you with bloodshot eyes, imploring you, for the sake of God, to get to a grocery store AND PLEASE, PLEASE PURCHASE MILK before you had to spend the next month eating insects or old lampshades.

            You should be getting used to this by now. Of course, at the beginning of the month, we experienced what the newsmedia called “The Blizzard of ‘96,” which was followed a week later by what the newsmedia called “Also The Blizzard of ‘96” (or “Blizzard Lite”). Then, just this past weekend, Richmond was subjected to the “The Blizzard of the First Week of February,” which was followed by Monday’s “Blizzard From 2 O’Clock until Three-ish.”

            That's right, folks, it’s been snowing in Richmond lately. First, it snowed in history-making droves, prompting this concerned headline from the Richmond Times-Dispatch: “Sources Reveal Clinton Has Fat Butt;” and this this story on the fourteenth page of the Science section: “Richmond Attacked by Very Cold Water.” Then, this last weekend, it just seemed blasé, and TV weatherpeople pleaded for milk-purchasing frenzy in a much calmer, detached way.

            As Richmond Mayoral candidates, we hereby Announce that We Are in Favor of Snow, not only because it allows us to throw snowballs through Paul Dipasquale and “Pongo Twistleton”’s car windows, but also because when people ask us, "How did you find the roads?" we get to say, "We just went outside and there they were."

            From the first mention of the word snow, every single person in the Tri-State area (Virginia, New Mexio, North Dakota? We're not sure.) descended upon area grocery stores, apparently to stock up on vaseline to lather up their car tires.

            While most people stock up on canned goods before a snow storm in case, say, Summer is canceled, it is our civic responsibility to point out this Actual News Item from just days before The Big Storm. According to the news story, a young woman whom we will call “Jabba” (although her real name is Carmella Sheets) was eating canned spaghetti straight from the can and almost choked to death on a plastic cheese-slice wrapper that somehow got into the can. So: what does this tell us? This tells us that “Jabba” had enough spaghetti on her fork to hide an entire cheese slice wrapper and that she chewed it little enough not to realize that she was swallowing plastic.

            In the story (True Fact!), “Jabba” said, "I like spaghetti, but I don't think I'll be able to eat it the same way."

            Well, we hope not.

            So if you must eat canned goods during the snow storm, make sure to remember the golden rule of canned food: There are probably at least two forkfuls in every can. (Another rule to keep in mind: “Just don't be that person.”)

            The entire East Coast was seized in the grip of panic, fear, mild nausea and cramps. It was a typical winter scene: people in Boston put on snow tires (we mean on their cars). Pennsylvanians got drunk and threw snowballs at the Philadelphia Eagles and little children. People in New York shot each other. Richmond-area road crews (two guys named “Buck” and a shovel) were out in force, laminating area roadways and covering them with ball bearings, so that even if it didn't snow, Richmonders could still participate in the Southern winter ritual of crashing into things with their cars.

            Whenever it snows, Richmonders join together in the sort of collective mindblock that can really bring a community together. Literally. As soon as it even smelled like snow, cars started skidding into telephone poles, houses, other cars and dairy farms. As Paul drove around after the Big Storm (which he can do because he’s originally from the North), he saw – strewn among the corpses of TV Weatherpeople committing suicide – abandoned cars in snowbanks, on rooftops and in the branches of tall trees.

            Meanwhile, Jeff was busy being a Journalist. The first rule of journalism is that whenever anything happens, you have to interview somebody about it, even if that somebody is the Nigerian Under-Secretary for Fish Processing. So Jeff had gone to a grocery store to “take the pulse” of the city (it turned out to be 130 over 90). There, he interviewed an Actual Richmond Shopper. The interview went something like this:


            JEFF: Hello, ma’am, how do you...

            DISTURBED WOMAN SHOPPER: AIIIEEEE! Out of my way! I must have MILK!

            JEFF: Is snow affecting...

            WOMAN: Oh, the Snow Gods are angry at us! We are doomed! Milk! MILK!

            JEFF: Are you...

            WOMAN: I must buy it before snow falls! You should NEVER allow milk to get cold!

            JEFF: Can I just ask...

            WOMAN: God help me, I’ll even drink skim!!!!

            GROCERY CLERK WITH SHOTGUN: Freeze!!! Are you a Valued Customer?


            Or something.

            At this point you may be asking, “So what’s good about snow?

            Snow is “neat” because it makes dogs — already somewhat dim — go totally insane. Also, it makes most Richmonders act like they’ve been snorting motor oil.

            Furthermore, snow is neat because it is responsible for creating a situation in which Paul felt totally justified leaving his car right in the middle of Grove Avenue for almost half an hour. People could have parked their cars in George Allen’s bathroom and they wouldn’t have gotten towed.

            Snow also creates jobs in the booming Shovel Manufacturing and “Snoopy Snow Cone Machine-Operator” industries. We “dig” – as the kids these days say – snow because it reminds Jeff of his childhood in the last Ice Age, when mammoth were plentiful, and skiing conditions were always bitchin’. Most importantly, we are in favor of snow because it keeps The Richmond State’s editors from panhandling in the streets like ususal.

            The Big Question is, why don’t we get snow more often? Because the short-sighted current management of this city simply has not appropriated enough funding for it.

            We are flexible candidates, meaning that Paul can sometimes touch his toes. More importantly, this means that if you’re against snow, we can change our minds. We would outlaw clouds, and make snow illegal. Police Chief Jerry Oliver would be authorized to execute people for humming “White Christmas.” We would invite disaster by ordering the construction of a giant Snow Shield over the city, which would eventually collapse under its own weight, killing thousands.

            So, what have we learned?

            1. Wrapping snow chains around your children will not give them additional traction.

            2. The Snow Gods DEMAND that Leonidas Young be sacrificed to them, or they will DESTROY this city with another light-to-medium snowfall.

            3. Anything that gets us off work for a day can’t be that bad.


© 1996 Puff Carpluto

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