Archived Story

Old Man Winter goes to the movie theater

Published 9:23am Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Column: Tales from Exit 22, by Al Batt

My neighbor Weasel went to the movie theater to see “Les Miserables.”

He was disappointed.

He expected the film was going to be about Minnesota winters.

Weasel thinks winter is too cold to like and that every mile is two in the winter. He threatens to skip town and winter in Florida where the governor proclaims, “No cold for you!” I think Old Man Winter gets kickbacks from mobile home sellers in the south.

Weasel claims that the nicest thing about winter isn’t.

It does no good to whine about winter. Weasel might as well cry me a frozen river.

I led a busload of folks from Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Nevada, Texas, California and Arizona around northern Minnesota when it was 33 degrees below zero. I had to use a cattle prod to get them out of the vehicle.

One said, “It has to warm up 33 degrees just to get to zero!”

I had to admit that was a good point. It didn’t surprise me. The guy was a nuclear physicist.

Cold is winter’s way of telling us, “Get off my lawn!”

Winter gives us the cold shoulder, along with other frosty body parts.

I appreciate winter. It has a beauty, but it doesn’t like compliments. It deflects praise. I live in Minnesota. If I didn’t like winter, I’d be a square peg pounded into a round hole. I gladly don sweatshirts and wool socks when I hear a weather forecaster cackling fiendishly. I must admit that when one says, “It should get up to 2 below zero today,” it sounds wrong.

I learn from canine companions. Dogs like winter. They can see their work in the yellow snow. Wild animals survive our winters. The critters keep critting. Life outlasts winter.

People ask probing questions in winter. “How does your car do in the snow?”

I answer, “It does just like a squirrel on a skateboard.”

It seems to make sense.

I’m frequently asked why I’m not wearing a warmer coat. I tend to dress like Ward Cleaver in cold weather. The reason I don’t wear a winter coat often is that my coziest coats have bad zippers. They’re too good to cast aside, but too irksome to wear. Some people lose weight while supersizing their clothing. Layering for winter is an exercise class in itself.

It was a winter wind that blew me into the theater where I encountered Weasel in the lobby.

I enjoy movies. Cary Grant and Irene Dunne enthralled me in “Penny Serenade.” Grant and the rest of the cast made me laugh in “Arsenic and Old Lace.” I can’t stop watching “Groundhog Day.” “The Big Lebowski” causes me to donate time to a chucklethon.

I told Weasel that my wife, The Queen B, and I were going to see “Lincoln.” One of Weasel’s eyebrows shot up like it belonged to Mr. Spock. Weasel had heard that the film was 2 1/2 hours long. He thought that was lengthy for a movie about a car.

Abraham Lincoln, our 16th president, wore a stovepipe hat that wouldn’t be of much use in a Minnesota winter unless it had a stove in it.

A movie theater is a nice place to be when winter refuses to turn off the air conditioning in January. Winter teaches us that when it’s cold and the humidity is high, the air feels colder because higher humidity in cold weather increases the conduction of heat from the body.

Some movies make me feel like a caged baboon only without all the pacing. I look for a way out. I’m not claustrophobic, but bad movies make me feel trapped. This was a good movie. There was a small audience in the theater, but a big picture. The movie demanded attention and there were moments when I could have heard a napkin drop. That was because I was eating pudding. Popcorn would have made too much noise.

“Lincoln” received 12 Oscar nominations. That’s not four score and seven, but it’s more than one and one Oscar nomination is a lot. The closest I’ve come was when I received an Oscar Meyer nomination for waving at the Weinermobile. If Lincoln were alive today, he’d say, “What’s an Oscar nomination?”

I enjoyed the movie. Now, instead of the image on the penny, the actor (Daniel Day Lewis) is whom I picture when I think of Lincoln.

I took pleasure in a story well told, but I felt a bit guilty going to the theater and watching Lincoln go to the theater.

Hartland resident Al Batt’s columns appear every Wednesday and Sunday.

Penguin