If there’s one thing I’m reasonably good at — and the list of things I can do is pretty low these days — it’s small talk about the weather.
You wanna talk about a movie you saw last week? Sure. Wanna ask how my day was? Something awkward probably happened but I’ll tell you everything anyway. Wanna talk about the weather?
I love talking about the weather. Nothing gets me more jazzed, more stoked or more psyched than the weather because you can bring it up anytime and someone will always have something to say. You’ll never cut anyone out. It’s a universal issue … Well, it’s not actually universal because microbes on other planets have different weather patterns to talk about, but it’s a saying so hop off your soapbox and chill out. It’s just the weather.
Here’s an actual conversation I had the other day. Very pleasant, would rate it seven out of 10 in terms of personal fulfillment.
“Hey! Man, this weather is wild! Like, make up your mind, planet!”
“Yeah for sure. Catch you later.”
Easy peasy, lemon squeezy. No bullshit, just talking about the weather. That’s all you need. Like the other day …
I had gotten used to piling on layers of clothes in the morning assuming it was just as freezing as the day before. That’s a pretty fair assumption in Ann Arbor. Once it starts snowing, you’re pretty much a Popsicle until spring. Don’t get me wrong, I love snow. But if it’s cold and it’s not snowing, there’s no point to it being so cold. Just give us some snow to awe at and put on Snapchat as if everyone else can’t just look out the window and see the exact same thing. But one day, I popped on jeans, tall socks, boots, an undershirt, a flannel, a crewneck and then a coat featuring a lovely accent of a beanie and gloves. I was ready for whatever Earth wanted to throw my way …
Except heat. Fifty degrees blindsided me like that Sandra Bullock movie about football.
The moment I stepped outside, I noticed the sun was actually shining and a lovely warmth was brushing my cheeks. I braced myself for nothing. I ran back upstairs and changed, definitely securing my tardiness to lecture but who cares? It’s summer again!
“I just wanna get cool / Let's go swimming in a swimming pool”
I don’t think there was anyone not talking about the weather that day. It warmed my heart. I walked down State Street, eavesdropping because I’m an invasive piece of shit, and all I heard was people marveling at the weather. No one was excluded from the conversation. The campus was united over the Earth’s mood swings.
We had just come out of what felt like an eternal winter. The gray skies felt ingrained in my vision but now, I looked up and saw nothing but beautiful, striking blue. Later that day, the sunset turned the sky a lovely shade of pink and purple. Pure bliss.
“There’s pineapple purple skies / Promise everything gon' be alright”
The weather was perfect. I was perfectly comfortable with a light jacket and Hawaiian shirt with a huge hole on the front. Usually, if I want to suffer for fashion, that one bit where my bare skin hits the cold air freezes into an ice cube. Fashion is pain and I will never change my self-destructive and inconvenient ways.
That day, I was content.
I got home that night, lay down in bed and was thrilled to see what tomorrow would bring.
Pause on the narrative real quick. Weather apps are single-handedly dismantling our society’s small talk and they should be thrown out the window as a crime against our social system. Hot take, I know, but it’s the truth. If you know what the weather is going to be like tomorrow, there’s no mystery in a conversation. There’s no end result. You just know immediately. If I ask someone “What do you think the weather’s gonna be like?” and I see them reach into their pocket to check, I know my entire small talk conversation is ruined. Where has the joy gone in just guessing and waiting to see if your gamble on Earth’s weather patterns for the day is correct?
We could never have a casino of just predicting what the weather is. Technology has ruined that viable market and I will never forgive it.
Back to the weather, I woke up the next day ready to see if our warm streak was about to officially begin.
I was not prepared to jump back to where we were two days ago. The Earth had given me a taste of what could be and I got greedy. Icarus had flown too close to the Sun and was cast into the cold water below. Honestly, it was just a little rude on the Earth’s part. Who do you think you are?
I stuck my hand out the window, expecting a pleasant brush of heat but instead was smacked across the face with a cold breeze. I guess I should have expected it. In the wise words of that one Robert Frost poem that people only know from “The Outsiders”: “nothing gold can stay.”
I threw on my Target-brand navy-blue peacoat that I’ve had since freshman year of high school. It has failed me many times but I was hopeful that I could conserve body heat on my way to class.
You betrayed me, peacoat and I will never forgive you … until I ultimately forget and don you another day.
I went about my day, freezing in my coat but it takes a lot to be a fashion icon like myself. I was taking the Commuter South bus route from North Campus, trying to concentrate on the music blaring from my earbuds. If I focused on the warming sounds of Prince’s silky smooth voice, I wouldn’t be as cold. It had worked in the past. Unfortunately, I focused a little too hard and missed my stop by a mile and a half. I immediately pulled the yellow cord and jumped off the bus at the nearest stop. There was no way I was about to walk home from where I ended up. So I waited … and waited … and then I thought about how cold I was … and then I waited some more.
I looked like Jack Nicholson in the end of “The Shining” by the time the Commuter North bus rolled around to take me back the way I came. The door popped open and I swear I had to break the ice that had formed around my joints before I could walk like a robot into that warm haven. I never thought I would have treated the sopping and muddy insides of a blue bus with the same appreciation and folksiness that I would a beautiful cabin in the woods with a roaring fireplace. I kicked my feet up, kept my earbuds OUT of my sight so I wouldn’t get distracted again and watched with the glaring intensity of a night owl for my stop.
I ran to my room, jumped in bed and lied there until I could feel my appendages again.
Despite this pain, despite the unfortunate scenarios Earth’s seemingly random weather patterns may bring, they keep you on your toes.
Also, I wouldn’t have this week’s column without small talk about the weather.
So thanks for helping me reach word count, Earth. You’re pretty rad sometimes. Keep on doin’ you.