In my opinion

Snow. You may know it as the light flakes you tried to catch on your tongue as a child, or that adorable snowman you and your mom made and then ran inside to drink cocoa and laugh. But snow has another even cuter moniker here in the Midwest, namely The White Death!!!!! Ahh hahahahahaaaaaa!!!!! (Sorry, I got carried away.)

That’s right, The White Death. Just when you thought it was OK to reach for a snowball to playfully toss at your boyfriend, you actually slung a ball of White Death at him. Are you crazy? You could have taken his head right off, or given him a potentially devastating case of the sniffles!

Yes folks, it is winter in the tri-state and that means The White Death is upon us. The very mention of the word “snow” strikes fear into the heart of every red blooded Midwesterner, as if Ginsu knives were getting ready to fall from the sky. The first phase is the “Weather Report.” More ominous than news of an invasion from Mars, more terrifying than reports of Jessica and Nick’s breakup (If those two crazy kids can’t make it, who can?), the report spreads faster than the rumor that Marilyn Manson is that dude from The Wonder Years.

It starts with your mom saying, “Be careful! They are calling for 7 inches by this afternoon!” Then you go to school, you tell someone, they tell someone, a great buzz consumes the entire area, and by 2 p.m., your mom calls you and says, “They are calling for 11 feet of snow in the next five minutes. Drop to the ground immediately and cover yourself with a hot blanket! I will commandeer a snow plow and come and get you!” Then it snows 1 inch and your mom makes you cocoa.

The next phase is what I like to call the “People Freaking Out” phase. This is when it has just begun snowing and everyone acts like a nuclear holocaust is upon us. People flee from their jobs early, everything gets canceled, and there is mad dash to the parking lot to race home and “beat the snow,” as if the snow is Jeff Gordon and your Hyundai is a race car. Because of the “Freaking Out” phase, the roads become clogged with people trying to make it home. At this time, the average speed seems to drop slightly from 60 or 70 mph to 7. Seven mph. This is how slow everyone drives. You aren’t going to outrun the snow like that, even with your supercharged Hyundai.

This is about the time when people, even those who have lived in Kentucky or Ohio all their lives, act as if they have never, ever seen snow before. They look out their windshields in amazement, as if candy peanuts had suddenly started falling from the heavens (mmmm, candy peanuts). They drive home with a death grip on the steering wheel, sprint indoors and stand by the fireplace, shaking uncontrollably.

This phase brings with it very quickly the “I Have Four-Wheel Drive and You Don’t, Ha Ha” phase. This phase is when the people who take crap all year about their four-wheel drive vehicle polluting the environment, not being fuel efficient and having Yosemite Sam mudflaps are finally vindicated for all the world to see. These people put their vehicles into four-wheel drive and race off into the storm, with lights blazing and Toby Keith blaring, fearing not The White Death at all and then getting stuck in their driveway.

The last phase is “Winter Storm Warning.” As if you didn’t know it was snowing, the local government will alert you to that effect with “The Winter Storm Warning.” This warning comes from a bunker located three miles below the earth in downtown Cincinnati, where a warning system far more complex than even the Terror Alert, powered by the most sophisticated computers and sensors in the world, is controlled by a guy named Jerry. If it snows hard enough, Jerry will declare a “Snow Emergency,” which is the equivalent to a declaration of war. Buildings will crumble, businesses will shut down, schools will close and high schoolers all over the area will cry tears of joy.

In the aftermath of scraping windshields, shoveling walks and pulling out your neighbor’s four-wheel drive with your Hyundai, all soon returns to normal. But while we return to our everyday lives, we keep an eye to the sky, looking for the first signs of The White Death. As I write this, I am trapped on campus by the first big storm of the season. All of my fellow students have sprinted to their cars long ago to drive 7 mph all the way home. I’ve resigned myself to staying here all night. Hey, who am I to challenge The White Death? So stay strong my fellow tri-staters. It will soon be spring, and we will have six months before The White Death hits again, and we will all act like we’ve never seen snow before in our lives.