I read in the rags that the Golden Globes were a hotter-than-usual affair, and that was not a nod to the fashions but rather that the stars were shvitzing in their stilettos. The press rolled out shot after shot of celebrities fanning themselves in the ballroom of the Beverly Hills Hilton, where, according to reports, the air conditioning failed. Coupled with the rain outside, it made for incredibly high humidity at the show and caused most to appear disheveled and sweaty. Except for Matthew McConaughey, of course, who appeared as he always is, only forced to keep his shirt on.
I wanted to summon a bit of pity for the stars on one of their biggest days of the year, but then I remembered I haven’t felt warm in four months. I probably won’t sweat again for another seven months — and even then it only will be because I unwittingly will have child-locked myself into the car again. Coping with a few hours of humidity in California doesn’t earn you national empathy, at least not East Coast empathy, anyway. Californians have to go to an awards show just to experience a season. If only a polar vortex could descend upon the Oscars. Then we could see what they’re really made of. Meryl Streep will do her part — that much we can count on.
It doesn’t take a method actor to perfect the countenance of someone who is frozen and miserable during January and February in Maine. We locals are pretty good at delivering that performance. The snow blows into town with a vengeance, and with it comes many unwelcome imperatives, such as “shovel the walk” and “lace up your boots” and “stop forgetting to order oil.” If only I could recall that last one instead of needing to be reminded by a flanneled man named Bill, who thinks the only thing emptier than the tank in my basement is my cranium.
These early months of winter test our grit and send the weak-willed, such as myself, scouring the Internet in search of cheap fares west. It feels an act of treason to consider fleeing the ice-locked ground beneath our feet, to leave our countrymen behind. Then you remember you haven’t even seen another living soul during the last couple of weeks because the weather has sapped our impulses to leave the house so it’s possible you could decamp to California for a week and slink back before anyone would even notice you were gone — other than Bill, of course, who needed to let himself in to fill up your tank twice while you were away.
My family in the West preys upon my weakness this time of year. They statistically reason I’ve fallen on the ice at least a few times, that my car has been towed once already and that I’ve probably made a spectacle of myself for the neighbors by beating the snow mound in front of my driveway to death with a shovel. They know they’ve got me in their clutches when I end a phone call with, “Oh, the mailman is approaching. I hope he brings news from afar!” They tap their fingertips together under their chins, knowing it will not be long before I’m staring, unblinking, with veins bursting from my corneas, at the Expedia site, in serious contemplation of the one-way travel option.
This year’s westward trek is feeling more daunting than those of the past, though. The burdens of the life I’m trying to shrug off seem greater this year between a house, two dogs and work. I realize, however, the emotional sinkhole I will tumble into, should I decide not to go, so I’ve done the only thing I can to hold myself accountable: I’ve told the kids we’re going. Now that they think we’re going, I field the question, “Are we leaving tomorrow?” every four hours. It reminds me it’s not just their mother who needs an escape; it’s them, as well. We need to laze in the sun at a place that only has weather events during the span of an awards show. We need to revel in the seasonless and enjoy a place that has a high of 71 and a low of 71, if only for a week.
And if we’re really lucky — or if we get trapped in a hotel without air conditioning — we might even break a sweat.