I’m a native Californian. So this makes me something of a clueless wuss when it comes to East Coast winter. You see, here in California, unless we head up to the Sierra Nevada mountains, we rarely experience any weather below 45 degrees Fahrenheit. In fact, we Californians shiver and complain when the temperature hits tepid winter levels, and this makes us something of an understandable laughing stock. (This does not, however, explain California’s rampant libertarianism, nor its wacko New Age movements.)
There’s a corollary to this Left Coast predicament. California’s relative warmth also means that many of us (or at least me) are utterly clueless about winter wear. Hats? Scarves? Gloves? You don’t say! What the hell are those? I have a trusty full-length wool coat that gets me through the cold winter nights, thank you very much. And if you push me against the wall, I’ll drag out my thermal underwear under duress, which I honestly can’t remember where I put. But I’m pretty sure it’s somewhere in my apartment!
I hit New York this weekend, where the weather ranged from 15-30 degrees. With my Californian idiot thinking in play, I likewise figured that the wool coat would serve me well in these comparatively freezing conditions. This worked out okay for me, except when I ventured beyond three Manhattan blocks in the cold. After three blocks, I began to experience an astonishing freezing sensation in my cheeks! This was something new and strange (and, dare I say it, exotic) to me, and I did my best to hide my panic. When my silly masculinity dissipated and I began to realize that this was not a good winter wear situation, it was suggested by certain folks kind enough to comprehend my cluelessness that covering my ears and hands would probably be a good thing.
So I sallied forth to do this. But I could not find a trusty cap or gloves for sale in a ten block area. This was New York! Why was it possible to order smoked Cuban fish at 2:30 AM, and yet not find winter gear? I was prepared to abandon my quest altogether, silently shivering and risking possible frostbite, until I stumbled upon one of those 99 cent stores. I walked into this dubious outlet with some trepidation.
I was stunned to discover a hat and gloves, which I obtained for the amazing price of $2.58. The freezing feeling in my cheeks disappeared! There was better body heat distribution! I began to walk proudly in the cold, thinking that (at least for this weekend) I could probably pull a Travolta strut and ask for two, two slices of pizza somewhere.
There is a moral to this story: a discount store will save you from the cold more effectively than one of those silly Duane Reade outlets that purport to serve the general public.