Acute brain-freeze

Cow Hampshire (and, I guess, a couple other states in New England) are currently gripped in the throes of a particularly nasty ice storm (that’s when it takes turns snowing, raining, sleeting, and doing whatever the hell else it wants to.

Just how bad is the storm out there?

* My normal half-hour commute took almost 90 minutes.

* I never got above 30 miles an hour on the highway.

* I saw several vehicles off the road.

* I saw an ambulance fishtail and nearly go off the road.

* I saw firefighters make a grocery-store run in a Haz-Mat truck.

* The guy next door is replacing his SUV’s snow tires with skates.

It was so bad on I-93, for once in my life I picked up a hitchhiker.

The hitchhiker turned out to be penguin in a parka. He hopped in and buckled up.

“Thanks, man. It’s nasty out there.”

“No problem,” I answered. Where you heading?”

“Manchester. I hear there’s a couple ice rinks up there, figured I could get work as a mascot.”

“Yeah, I could drop you off at the JFK one. It’s not that far out of my way.”

“Cool. No pun intended.”

“So, what’s your name?”

“Percy.”

I cocked an eyebrow. “Percy the parka-wearing penguin?”

He glared at me with his beady little eyes. “Don’t get me started. My parents loved alliteration. You should see our therapy bills.”

“‘Our’ therapy bills?”

Yeah, all us kids. Me, Peter, Perry, Penny, Polly, and Potter.”

“Potter?”

“Yeah, they got a little desperate at the end of the clutch.”

We sat in silence for a moment. I figured I’d start a conversation. “So, cold enough for you?”

I got another glare. “Yeah, that’s the first time I’ve heard THAT one. Those people who say global warming’s for the birds? Can’t come soon enough for THIS bird.”

The silence resumed.

A couple minutes later, he leaned forward and switched the heater to the air conditioning.

I protested. “Hey, what the hell are you doing?”

“I’m dying here. I’m wearing the equivalent of two down parkas over here, and one of ’em don’t come off. Cut me some slack, will ya?”

We compromised — I zipped up my coat, he unzipped his, and the temperature control went to the center.

“Whoa, check that out — that ambulance almost went off the road!”

“Relax, Percy. I’m keeping plenty of distance, and going nowhere near as fast. Besides, those things are pigs in snow — big, heavy, tall, and rear-wheel drive.”

Finally, we got to Manchester. I was going to leave him at the JFK Coliseum, but it was closed for the weather. I felt bad for him, so I offered to let him crash at my place.

Percy’s currently curled up in my freezer, eating the frozen fish fillets in there. He’s grousing about the garlic, though.

There’s no pleasing some flightless fowl.

J.

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