Are you prepared? Are you ready? You better be ready!! I’m not kidding… this is serious!!! Very serious!! When the time comes, you’re going to be sorry! You better prepare… or else!!!

The second coming? War with Iraq? A Ya Ya Sisterhood sequel?

None of the above. According to some people, it’s something far more frightening. Brace yourselves, people… it’s about to snow in Nashville, TN. You can duct tape your windows all you want, but you can’t keep away those icy flakes.

Snow!!! The same stuff that looks immaculate on a moonlit night causes grown men and women to scurrying the aisles of every grocery store in town in case they have to stay indoors for more than (gasp) two days.

I truly love this town, even if it is home to a superficial industry. But when the weather turns cold, citizens here wait for “the call”, as if the local weatherman acts as Music City’s Paul Revere: “The snow is coming! The snow is coming! Holy crap, the snow is coming!” One lantern if snow only; two if we should expect sleet too.

George Washington won the Revolutionary War on a cold Christmas Eve night while his troops wore nothing but burlap sacks and bed sheets, so he obviously wasn’t from Nashville. If he were, the conversation preceding his Delaware crossing would have been much different:
Some officer guy: “General, if we attack now, the British will be surprised.”
General Washington: “Are you fucking crazy? It’s snowing, for crying out loud!”

If wars were fought down here nowadays, battles would be canceled along with every school in town. They would have “Battle Watch” on the news, and soldiers would gather around a TV in eager anticipation that they’ll have the day off so they can go sledding or play Risk and Yahtzee.

School closings are a big deal here. Television stations announce them with more regularity than Wilford Brimley on Bran Flakes in Tijuana, and they make quite the production out of it, often showing the weatherman running out of a fog machine with that deep-voiced boxing guy yelling “LLLLLLLLLLet’s get ready to rrrrrrrrumble!” Some even have halftime shows.

A long time ago, probably on a day when the world announced there would be no news at all, some TV execs thought of making these “schools are closed” announcements entertaining. All come with jingles, and one station even uses a few muppet rejects. Yes… puppets. The most famous (or infamous if you’re a parent with grade school kids) bird in town is a little puppet we call Snow Bird, which one television station uses to announce school closings. It’s great fun for the kids, but the parents hate him. In fact, I believe the phrase “shooting the bird” originated in Nashville, when Davey Crockett’s mom said “If your log cabin schoolhouse is closed, I’m gonna shoot that damn bird.” She pointed to the TV with her middle finger, and the nation caught on to a phase made popular by sassy teens and Dennis Rodman. And now you know… the rrrrrrrest of the story. You have to admit, Snow Bird is one unique piece of entertainment marketing. Vegas may have Seigfreid and Roy, but Music City USA has a penguin made of felt. Get you some of that, Branson, Missouri!

Allow me to explain, or… using local dialect… splain, this to you non-Nashvillians. Schools here close down because we don’t have the equipment or personnel to deal with snowy streets. Or worse… icy streets. Unless it’s in a glass of sweet tea or in the rink downtown (Go Predators!), ice is frowned upon. Back in 1990, Vanilla Ice announced a tour stop in Nashville. Officials heard that “Ice” was coming and closed down schools simply out of habit. It was August.

Yes indeed… schools close with the threat of snow. The town’s superintendent may as well be Tom Ridge. There have been several times when everybody was predicting snow, maybe even ice, and nothing happened. Not even a flurry of a snowflake. And yet grocers sold out of everything, even Mother’s Day cards. “Hey, you don’t know how long that snow is gonna stay here,” said the mayor.

I kid, but yes…I, too, get pissed when it snows and/or the streets get icy. Driving in it is never fun by any stretch of the imagination. It just amazes me that Nashvillians worry about it more than they do about more important things. And the local media doesn’t help. No matter what happens in the world, they will lead off the news with a report of incoming inclement weather:
“Big day today. Scientists have discovered a cure for every known cancer in the world and U.S. Marines have just killed Osama bin Laden in the middle of newly discovered Atlantis. But first, let’s list the 382 schools that will be closed tomorrow. We’ll do them alphabetically, then take a brief intermission, then repeat that list for those who may have missed it. Oh, wait… this just in… martians have just landed on the steps of the capitol. But first, here’s information on how to win your own Snow Bird radio!”

*I made a few comments in this column about soldiers and one about Tom Ridge. Please note that I do not take lightly the threat of terrorism. I am simply comparing something serious (war) with something that should be taken with a truckload of rock salt (snow!!). If you’re a soldier or a spouse/family-member of a soldier, then God bless you. If you know of a soldier who may need a laugh or two in these troubling, nervous times (and you think they may laugh at my jackassery), then please forward this along. Take care, everyone, and as always… suck it, Saddam.

Categories: Columns