The Bitter Cold

This thermometer doesn't even have the -80 F that it was that day.

This thermometer doesn’t even have the -80 F that it was that day.

I don’t mean to brag, but I’m pretty sure I have been outside in a temperature that was colder than you. I know that sounds really lame to some people who live in Arizona or California or Saudi Arabia. Why would you even care? And why would that ever be something to brag about? Well, if you are from the Midwest or from Antartica you probably understand. It’s human nature. Someone starts a conversation and says that have done something really extreme. It could be that they jumped off a swing 10 feet in the air and landed on their ankle wrong and sprained it. Soon enough you have a group of people telling their one up stories. The last guy is saying he jumped from space and landed flat on his face and was eaten by tigers. Of course he is exaggerating, but you get the point. Humans are one uppers. So I risk the fact that when I tell you the extreme coldest I have ever been in, I will get stories of other people that will top it. That is fine. It will just make me bitter, but not as bitter as this time in my life makes me. Let me explain.

When I first moved to South Dakota(the rest of my family followed me there too), there was a day when the temperature was -80 F with the wind chill. I went to school that day. I was kind of bitter(at 8 years old I was still just kind of bitter), because they didn’t even let us go outside for recess that day. How was I supposed to break my leg while slipping on the ice? Or be forced to stick my tongue to the flag pole by the school bully? Obviously the school didn’t really care about our feelings. It always about them.

As an attention seeker, I couldn’t brag to my classmates about being in -80 weather, so I had to find something else. Luckily, my chance would come in the form of a big semi lake of ice on our school playground. Me and someone else(probably an aquaintance since I didn’t really have friends) decided to take a run at the ice skating rink and try to slide as far as we could. I slipped hard and landed on my wrist. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to have to go to the hospital. Thankfully, I was just as clumsy then as I am now and was able to full on sprain my wrist at church while walking on the ice.

This would finally be the day when I would sprain my wrist and get the attention of the class! (that isn't me in the picture but a model that posed for me to depict that day)

This would finally be the day when I would sprain my wrist and get the attention of the class! (that isn’t me in the picture but a model that posed for me to depict that day) Unfortunately they chose a girl to play me(I was actually a boy.)

I couldn’t believe my luck. I sprained my wrist! I was able to go to school the next day with a brace that was wrapped with an Ace Bandage! How cool(get it cool?) would I be? But alas, my legendary bad timing would be my demise as another student actually broke their wrist and my painful sprain would be soon forgotten. One upped by a broken wrist! Curses! My kind of bitter grew into pretty bitter.

A depiction of the boy who had a broken arm that totally upstaged my sprained wrist.

A depiction of the boy who had a broken arm that totally upstaged my sprained wrist.

As I got older, global warming happened and the highs in winter reached a warm -30F and there was just nothing to brag about anymore. I mean, Siberia was getting -40’s on a regular basis. It’s my personal opinion that they were using illegal air conditioning and possibly steriods at the time, but hey I’m not accusing them of anything. I mean if you wanted to do an investigation on how they got that cold, that’s fine, but I don’t care. Why would I have any interest in that?

I eventually moved to Idaho and later Utah, but the cold feeling that I got from South Dakota never returned. Don’t get me wrong Idaho and Utah tried their best(not really, they only got -10 F), but they could never stack up to the pure feeling of wind penetrating your wind proof jacket deep into your bones like a good old fashioned -80 F. I’ve searched this earth high and low, I’ve tried to go outside in -30 without a jacket, I’ve even tried sleeping overnight in an ice cave pinned to the side of the ice cave wall, but nothing will ever compare to the exhileration of the day when it -80 below wind chill.

ice cave

A picture of a model depicting me sleeping up against a wall in an ice cave. At least the model was a male this time.

Just like my sprained wrist would never stack up to the broken one of my classmate, the cold of anywhere else will never stack up to the -80 F winter I experienced in South Dakota. And that makes me bitter. And bitterly cold just thinking about it.

Arrrgghhhh

Bitter Ben

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85 thoughts on “The Bitter Cold

  1. If it makes you feel bitter, I grew up in northern MN, and I can’t even one up you–60 below with windchill was my bottom point. You still have the awesomely bitter cold first place spot!

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  2. We are in Arizona, and do the opposite from you. We whine like babies when it gets to be 120 degrees farenheight. It make our nose hairs singe. Even the dog whines. The coldest I felt was Fort Wayne Indiana in December, 40 below with the wind chill factor, it felt like my lungs were going to collapse.

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  3. I dont have a cold story even though I could because I’m from the Midwest. However, I ended up laughing loudly on the train in front of people who now won’t be my friends because they think I’m crazy. If zombies attacked right now, they would toss me to the horde so they could make a getaway. I’m a little bitter about that.

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  4. Bitter Cold, ah yes the memories that thaw out. Cold winters in Chicago with the wind off the lake redefining the term wind chill. I shiver with excitement.

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  5. Takes me back to the Detroit winters when I was a kid. Nothing like -80 of course, but running around in -20 on the playground and getting yelled at by the parochial school nuns to get our jackets back on was still a good time.

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  6. Ha! Here’s what makes me bitter about all the one-upping going on when you talk to people:

    The one-uppers are not even aware that they are doing it (for the most part), they just think they are being witty conversationalists. Even more bitter to realize that I do it to (nooooo!).

    Thanks for stopping by my blog Bitter Ben, I’m enjoying your posts!
    Julia (http://insanitymostly.wordpress.com/)

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  7. Huh…I’m in Colorado, and when we hit 40 degrees fahrenheit, I consider myself an “indoor girl”. Brrr..

    ps –
    I’m beginning to think I need to find some models to depict me on my blog.

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  8. I grew up in upstate New York (farm country) … your post brings lots of memories of cold, especially in a house that had only a floor furnace for heating. But, I know, I know, it was never as cold as you describe here 😉 By the way, thanks for coming by my blog 🙂

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    • No trouble. It’s always nice to see other people’s blogs and what they do with it. I love doing so that is what really matters. And since I like it, that makes me bitter that I’m not bitter enough. The circle of bitterness.

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  9. I went out in -25 or -30 in the Polish mountains wearing just my normal clothes – no coat or anything. I was curious to see how long I would be able to stand it (about 3 minutes) before scuttling back indoors.

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  10. It may not be -80F, but I have survived -30C (still freakin’ cold) in a Canadian Prairie winter. Regretably, people there just tell you to “suck it up Buttercup”, put on some more layers, and get ‘r done. Glad you enjoyed my blog “A Wandering Mind …”.

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  11. 74F here, today. 🙂 Can I get a what-what for the Golden Coast? 😉 But I feel your pain, Bitter Ben. I lived in MT and Switz and well MT was just so buttass cold. -50 was not uncommon, and somehow I don;t remember that as all that bone blasting–definitely depended on wind chill, and i was a mere grade schooler, but I’d still rather ski Tahoe any day. 🙂

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  12. Over here (Ireland) we compete about the rain .My family are in different parts so over the phone if you say, “Its raining here all day” it is followed by “its lashing here the past three days” and that is ultimately topped by “cant remember a dry day!”

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  13. I feel your pain…well, not really and I don’t want to. I broke my arm when I was 10. It happened in the middle of the summer and the cast was off before school started back. That was a bummer.
    Living in Mississippi has it’s good points…anything below 30 degrees F is brutal to us and we have no intentions of going where it gets much colder. In the summer we do get to brag about the heat and humidity though.
    It was brutally cold this morning. We had frost. Of course it is up to 42F now and should be in the 60’s this afternoon.

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  14. I definitely get this! I grew up in Minnesota. I also remember a day when it was 60 below without the windchill and people were hammering in nails with frozen bananas. Also, the polar bears at the Minnesota zoo had bloody paws because their paws had frozen the ground of their enclosure. It was probably worse in South Dakota that day! Thanks for memories (ouch, like the one about sticking my tongue on a frozen stop sign pole.) Thanks also for stopping by Travel Oops! Cheers, Steph

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  15. hey ben, love your blog – damn that fellow student who upstaged you with the actual broken limb! thanks for stopping by my blog and i looked forward to more of your bitter words – beth

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  16. Both my parents are from South Dakota, and I’ve spent a lot of time there throughout my life, but I grew up, mostly in Arizona. One year, we went to South Dakota for Christmas. As I stepped off the plane, into South Dakota, I felt like I was in a science fiction movie…like I had just stepped onto the surface of another planet. I was wearing the usual…coat, hat and mittens, but it just wasn’t enough to prevent the South Dakota air from flash freezing my insides!

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    • I feel your pain. I got the brilliant idea one year at my Christmas break during college to earn a little money, so I worked construction outdoors for the two weeks in -30. I didn’t have my normal winter clothes, so I had to use a pair of my brother’s stretchy gloves, covered by some old mittens and his old puffy coat that didn’t block any wind. Yeah, smartest decision I ever made.

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  17. Lame… just pretend you broke it, and holy fuck that is cold!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 😦

    Why couldn’t that kid break his arm some other time? Now I am all bitter, great. :p

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      • Apparently, (and I know nothing as I feel there is little to nothing we can do about it, so out of fear have avoided the subject for the most part) the warming makes it colder?! Something about ice melting and making things that weren’t cold colder. You may be able to break your arm yet!

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    • I was actually just complaining about something that happened many years ago when I was in third grade. Seattle is pretty warm ( and by warm I mean above 0). What was funny to me was when I was in Orlando and it got down to 60 and people were putting on coats and complaining about how cold it was.

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  18. I think it’s that -80 exposure that made you so bitter. I think I would die if I went out in weather that cold. Since this is the first winter I’m thin, prior to this year I never really appreciated how awful the cold is–and it’s pretty warm this winter in Chicago. I miss my blubber.

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    • I remember the day. We went from the side of the school to bus (about 10 steps) and that was it. They didn’t really want us moving in the cold much more than that. Although my cat probably wanted to get out 3-100 times so that was kind of annoying.

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      • So true! I grew up in South Dakota, but now live in California. I have heard myself complain about the cold when it is 58 degrees–for which I am ashamed and maybe even a little bitter. What happened to my badass self? I have to dig around in my archives for the family Christmas photo my parents insisted on taking OUTSIDE when it was -20 degrees. It is my favorite family photo of all time.

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