I grew up in sunny, hot, and putrid South Florida where it was an oppressive 90°F with 100% humidity almost all year long with approximately two weeks of relief in the middle of winter, where it could plummet to an arid 50°F. (At this point, we would don our parkas and thick gloves. Floridians are not used to anything other than the worst heat imaginable.) We normally visited my aunt Mariela in Spain in the winter, where was comparatively cooler, and, one year, we got to do something that was so novel, so exciting, I could have exploded into a million little pieces with joy: We got to go sledding on a mountain, with actual snow.
As a child, I felt the trip was largely successful, but, as an adult, I question my rose-colored glasses of yore. My younger sister and I had failed to convince my mother that the snow boots she had bought us the year before were now too small. In fact, right before we left, I had tried on my pair and got one of my feet stuck. My sister had to muster all the strength she had to pull it off, and she ended up flying backwards into the wall. In a rare act of cooperation, she and I appealed to our mother that I get a bigger pair of boots, and my sister would inherit my old ones. My mother refused. On one hand, I see her point: Why shell out the cash to buy a pair of boots that I would only wear a handful of times? On the other hand, what on earth made her think that a growing child’s feet would stay the same size 12 months later? Kids are like weeds; you blink, and they’ve doubled in size and have taken over your entire back yard.
Once we finally arrived on the mountain, my father and I found a safe-ish looking spot and took off upon our sled. We ended up promptly crashing into a tree, which meant that my tiny little self had absorbed the shock of both a tree trunk from the front and my father (a decidedly large man) from the back. Thankfully, I was a porker of a child. Unfortunately, I had long since lost feeling in my feet, which were now swollen in too-tight boots. I practically had to be carried back to the car, so I could put my feet under the defroster. If I was one of my parents, I’d have called it a disaster.
But I was really happy that I got to play in the snow.
Upon returning to Florida, I decided to recreate our winter wonderland. My sister and I shared a room with a ceiling fan and bunk bed. My father kept large amounts of talcum powder in the bathroom. I devised a flawless plan: Climb onto the top bunk, load each of the fan blades with talcum powder, turn the fan on, and lie down on the rug to watch the “snow storm”.
My father “hid” the talcum powder on the top shelf of the bathroom vanity. Luckily, I was clever and very determined. I stood on the toilet seat, then eased my way onto the sink, and, on my tippy-toes, was just able to score an almost-full bottle of powder. After obtaining the necessary ingredient, I put the plan into action. I had my sister lie down on the rug first to allow me to do all the careful preparation. If you want something done right, after all, you have to do it yourself. (This was something I’d learned the hard way a few years back. That story will be published next month.)
It was beautiful, flawless, spectacular, awe-inspiring. Since my father is always hot, he kept the house very cold, so the talcum powder had a pleasant coolness as it blanketed our little bodies. Once we emptied out most of the bottle (it “snowed” several times), our bedroom was delicately coated in “snow”, and there was a hazy mist in the air. It was wonderful.
My father begged to differ. After half an hour of listening to his young daughters burst into laughter every thirty seconds with their bedroom door closed, he finally decided to investigate. (In our defense, given the circumstances, it was his own fault for waiting that long.) I can only imagine what he was thinking when he opened the door and discovered an entire room and two people covered in talcum powder. What had he done to his own parents as a child for him to deserve this as karmic retribution? He called my mother at work, steam practically shooting out of his ears, and, by the time she came home a few hours later, the powdery haze had made its way into the living room.
My sister and I were banned indefinitely from ever so much as touching a bottle of talcum powder. In fact, I’m certain that my father’s blood pressure rises when he sees either of us with a bottle of Gold Bond.