I said aloud, to the clouds: “So THIS is how it’s gonna be from now on, HUH?”
I’m talking, of course, about WINTER. Winter in NYC is funny. As I’ve often said before, it’s summer until it’s winter, and then a switch is FLIPPED. It could be warm enough outside for a sweater and a jacket one day, and the next…
…the next day, NO AMOUNT OF LAYERS WILL SAVE YOU.
Getting dressed becomes a chore. No, becomes a full-time JOB. Trying to combine the right amount of layers for outdoor protection + ease of removal for time spent indoors = ???
Because you see, the weather outside is frightful, so every place of business decides that, to compensate, they’ll crank the thermostat up to NINETY MILLION DEGREES. So even though you’re wearing six parkas and the skin of a Tauntaun, within five minutes of ducking into the Post Office, you’ll be sweating and shedding clothes faster than Elizabeth Berkeley in Showgirls. WHY, BUSINESSES? Are you trying to send our bodies into actual SHOCK? I had to leave a Duane Reade without buying anything because it was SO HOT in there, I started to get dizzy. And of course, once you’ve begun to sweat into your layers, you step back outside again in damp clothing, and the cold is that much worse.
So you do the only thing you can think of, which is Lots of Light Layers. Because you’re going somewhere and you plan to be there for a while, like a movie. Or a restaurant. Or therapy. And you’re not sure how warm it will be inside. So you start with a tank top as a base layer, and add successively cooler-weather clothes until you reach the outside:
This way, when you get inside, you can just strip down to the lightest level of clothing appropriate for the indoor weather.
Which in some cases, is the tank top.
Here’s a thought: if there’s a foot of snow on the ground outside, but the sweat from my pits is rolling down my bare arms inside because I’ve had to take off almost EVERYTHING I’m wearing, maybe — juuuuuuuuust maybe — you should consider turning the thermostat down.
And there is absolutely no end to how mind-bogglingly obnoxious this is.
Now, when I go shopping, I always get a cart. ALWAYS. Even if I’m buying one or two things. People, I need the cart because it’s SO HOT IN HERE, that I need to take off my three outermost layers, which are HUUUUUGE, and I need the cart to push them around in. I NEED THE CART, FOR MY COAT. Does that sound ridiculous to you??? Because it should! It’s fuckin’ HOT in here, so I took off ALL MY CLOTHES, OR ELSE I WILL FAINT FROM HEAT FRUSTRATION. This happened in Michael’s. It happened in Trader Joe’s.
Now, I’m not saying it’s not nice to walk indoors to a little bit more warmth than there is out on the wind-whipped sidewalks. I enjoy being able to feel my fingers and the tip of my nose from time to time, as much as the next consumer! And I’m not saying it needs to be as cold in Duane Reade as it in in my bedroom, which has no radiator, and I’m too cheap to run up my portion of the electric bill by turning on my space heater, so I just tell myself it’s NORMAL to be able to see my own breath indoors. The cold is bracing, I tell myself. I’m toughening myself up to withstand colder and colder temperatures. By February, I’ll be like Elsa: ? The cold never bothered me anyway! ? So what if I can’t keep a cup of coffee hot in my own home? I’ll just drink it faster! THIS IS FINE!!!
But the thing is, it would be fine, if I was dressed for 6 degree windy weather! Unpopular opinion: do stores even need heat at all? Is it enough to merely be an enclosed respite from the bracing wind outside? It actually might be!
Now, my friends in the suburbs, you are gonna want to chime in here, but before you do, I have to remind you that New York is a walking culture. The average “errands run” requires about a half a mile of walking in the below-freezing and cheek-burning winds, if not more. When you’re bundling up for the day, you’re essentially bundling up for a small hike, with some stops along the way to pick up laundry detergent and taquitos. It’s like snowshoeing the Iditarod, just to get to and from work. There’s a totally different culture around DRIVING, when you can just pull up to a store and run in before you start to get too cold! You say, “Meghan, if you know you’re going to be inside, why not wear fewer layers?” to which I say, THIS IS IMPOSSIBLE, because one would die of exposure, as did more than 200 New Yorkers during the Great White Hurricane of March 1888. That morning, temperatures were warm and springlike, but when they plummeted below freezing and a sudden blizzard hit the town, those who were caught unprepared for their commute home from work were found dead in snowbanks days later! You know how they say, history repeats itself? Well, I DO NOT intend to be underdressed for winter’s worst!
So, retailers, please, tell me. WHY do you feel the need, on brisk, wintry days, to turn your place of business into a literal BANYA? Who is this for? Who wants this? WHY DO YOU INSIST ON DOING THIS???? And also, can you hold my coat(s) while I just run back and get some taquitos? Thanks.