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Regional differences emerge as snow falls

December 21, 2009

o If you like reading Tim Rowland, you'll love watching him. See what else Tim has to say

Northerners hate to hear southerners whining about a little bit of snow. Southerners hate to hear northerners whining about southerns whining about a little bit of snow.

Beth (Alabama) and I (Minnesota) have this discussion from time to time. My theory is that southerners don't have any corresponding complaint they can issue. You can't really say, "Stupid Yankees -- they just don't know how to drive in the heat." Although we have been known to grouse about the withering humidity when it hits 30 percent.

But there are differences. Eskimos, it's popularly noted, have 7 million words for "snow." Correspondingly, northern media have a lot of ways of saying "digging out." In the south, there is no other phrase.

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"Washington area digs out." "Region digs out from two feet under." "Lynchburg digs out of record snowfall." "Eastern U.S. digging out from storm."

Forget the snow, it will take us a week to dig out from under all these snow clichés.

And there are some other differences. Up north, you rarely see someone driving down the road with the window open, trying to scrape the windshield at the same time. In the North, everyone owns some old beater they call their "winter car" that is all full of rust and dents, and is unlikely to have a windshield at all.

You are also unlikely to see this headline, as seen in The Washington Post: "Snowball fight gets serious when cop pulls gun."

Apparently, an off-duty police officer was upset when a snowball hit his Hummer. This is so immature. You drive a Hummer because you're scared of surface-to-surface missiles, not because you're scared of snowballs.

This would never happen in the wilds of Maine. You might start throwing snowballs after you run out of ammunition during a gunfight, but never the other way around.

Of course the main snow-related differences are male-female, not north-south.

Not to go into too much detail, but here's a little advice for wives. Suppose you have a big old parking lot that's under a foot and a half of snow, with only a couple of random tracks and footpaths running through it.

And maybe you've just run to the store for a few things and you're coming home and your husband is driving a big, honkin', planet-destroying SUV that goes about 3 tons and generates enough power to light up St. Louis.

Of course it's up to you, but you might not want to casually utter the phrase "Oh, why don't you just do a big doughnut and clear it all out" unless you absolutely, positively mean it.

Men have to be told some things a number of times before they respond. Take out the garbage; bring down my winter clothes from the attic; call the furnace man and schedule a service.

However, you will be ever so impressed with the blazing, male neural response you get with the phrase "do a big doughnut." The "...nut" will have barely passed your lips when you find yourself hurtling through space.

You might regret the jest and wish to retract, but by now, too much time has passed. In the split second it takes to draw a new breath and scream "Nooooo!" the initial order will have already been obeyed and a tsunami-like wall of snow will already be heading toward your glass sunroom.

I have no firsthand knowledge of this. I'm just guessing, is all, and am tossing it out for what it's worth.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2324, or by e-mail at timr@herald-mail.com. Tune in to the Rowland Rant video under opinion@herald-mail.com, on antpod.com or on Antietam Cable's WCL-TV Channel 30 evenings at 6:30. New episodes are released every Wednesday.

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