Monday, November 14, 2011

Chapter 4: When Winter First Begins To Bite

The summers in Stoatbridge were short and this year, rainy. Mr and Mrs Stoat spent all summer trying to plan a camping trip, only to be thwarted at every turn by the evil weather man or prior commitments made to individuals or groups who did not think "sorry, I'm busy pooping in the woods this weekend" a good enough reason to skip out.

All through the spring and summer and into the autumn, the Stoats continually reminded each other of little winter things they need to remember this season. I like drinking beer and throwing rocks, one would say to the other. Why don't we take up curling this winter? And they would nod at each other in serious agreement. Mrs Stoat would ask her husband if they should put up the icicle Christmas lights this year or if the real icicles would make the eves look too busy. Mr Stoat would grumble as he covered the windows with plastic in an effort to keep their gas bill below their mortgage. And on the coldest, snowiest nights, Mr Stoat would wrap his timid wife in his arms and they would hide under the mountain of blankets and bitch about why anyone would live in this miserable frozen hell-hole.

Not once, however, did the subject of winter tires come up.

It wasn't that they hadn't thought of it at all. In fact, they had spent a great deal of time discussing how wonderful it was having new winter tires the previous November, having finally given up on the old, balding set.

On Saturday morning, Stoatbridge woke up to several inches of heavy, wet snow that clung to trees, wires, dogs, and the fuzzy cuffs of childrens' snowsuits. It was the perfect snow for snowballs, for tobogganing, and for planting your car firmly in a ditch. It was also the perfect snow for Mrs Stoat's start-of-the-season coronary.

"We don't have the winter tires on yet," she reminded her husband over bacon, waffles, and too much maple syrup.

"It's okay, we can get them on Monday," Mr Stoat pointed out. "We have no where we have to be today and nowhere we have to be tomorrow. I will make an appointment for Monday morning."

Mr Stoat rang the tire company immediately to make an appointment for Monday morning.

"Good morning, Tire Company," said Mr Chickadee.

"Good morning, Mr Chickadee. This is Mr Stoat calling. I would like to make an appointment to have my winter tires put on," said Mr Stoat.

"Very well, Mr Stoat. What day would you prefer?"

"Monday, if you please. First thing." Mr Stoat picked up a pen and notepad and prepared to write the time down for his wife, who would be responsible for delivering and picking up the car while he was at work.

Mr Chickadee laughed. He laughed and laughed. He chuckled and chortled and howled and guffawed. Then he gasped for breath, sighed, and laughed some more.

"Are you alright?" asked Mr Stoat, somewhat annoyed.

"Yes, quite," replied Mr Chickadee when he had fully recovered. "Now, Mr Stoat, what day would you prefer? We have one opening on Wednesday and four or five on Thursday. If you'd like to get in before lunch, I would recommend Thursday."

Mr Stoat scowled at the telephone.

"Thursday it is, Mr Chickadee. The earliest you've got. Mrs Stoat would like to pick up a box of Tampax Pearl Plastic tampons, regular absorbency, before she finds herself at high tide." Mrs Stoat could hear the air quotes in her husband's voice.

"Then we shall see Mrs Stoat at nine o'clock on Thursday morning," replied Mr Chickadee, who would have been perfectly content not to know the details of Mrs Stoat's Monthly Visitor.

Mr Stoat settled back into his breakfast, sipping his coffee and enjoying the feel of the bacon grease as it coursed gently through his arteries.

"When was the last time we had the oil changed?" he asked.

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