I haven’t been to a dentist in close to ten years. This is because lounging back while someone pokes at my perfect teeth is a waste of time and money. I brush and floss every time I put food in my mouth. Every dentist I’ve ever seen has been in awe.

For the last couple of years I’ve been telling myself that I should probably make an appointment to get them cleaned by a professional, but if there’s one thing I do well, it’s procrastinate. Eventually I became annoyed with my habit of considering action rather than taking action; so I called the dentist David goes to and made an appointment for this afternoon.

The dentist’s office calls.

“We need to reschedule,” a woman informs me.

“Why?” I ask, irked because it took genuine volition to make the appointment in the first place; also, I’ve arranged my schedule around it. We went to Houston last week instead of this week because of it. When a friend invited me to run to Bee Cave with her today, I said no. Because of THE APPOINTMENT, which is now CANCELLED.

“Because of the COLD,” she tells me. “We don’t want to put our patients or our staff in danger.” She’s taken on a prissy tone.

Danger from cold? You put on a coat and go. What’s dangerous?

Yesterday, when I stopped by the grocery store for wine and dinner, the parking lot was packed. People were cruising around and around, trying to find a space. I lucked into one. A friend of mine stood at the entry to the store. Fretful and disheveled, she waved me over.

“What’s going on?” I asked. “Why all the people?”

“Don’t go in there!” She gives a wild-eyed grimace toward the interior. “It’s a zoo. There’s nothing on the shelves, the people are crazy; and look, there are no carts.” I look: no carts.

“But why?”

“Because of the COLD!”

Is there a store rule against using shopping carts when the temperature drops below freezing?

The COLD has caused the Y to close; so no spin class for David.

The yoga studio is also closed. No warriors for me.

Is it cold outside? Yes. Currently twenty-seven degrees. I reckon a person’d die if they wore no winter gear and stayed out in it for a while. But that’s not the plan. The plan is to get into the heated car, drive somewhere, and enter another heated place.

This closing of businesses and schools is a collective wimp-out.

A contagious fear of the temperature.

A mutual indulgence.

A weak excuse for a day off.

“What are you going to do today?” David asks, woeful because he loves his schedule.

“I don’t know. The general population seems to feel that the outdoors is dangerous.”

 “How can that be? There are places way colder than this, and they haven’t closed down.”

“It’s a puzzle.”

My friend, Mary, calls.

“What are you doing today?” she asks, adding, “I’m going to spend the day reading in bed.”

“You should read Why Stuff Matters. It’s exceptional.” A shameless plug.

“It’s so cold outside, I can’t even make myself go near a window. It’s depressing.”

“You’ve seen colder.”

We both grew up in Amarillo, where blizzards blow through every couple of winters. We’ve seen our share of snow-covered cars and roof-high drifts. The only weather event taking place here in Marble Falls is a measly dip on the thermometer. A few plants might freeze. And because of this, people mobbed the grocery store and fear leaving their homes.

David pops his head in while I’m on the phone.

“They’ve cancelled mail delivery on account of the COLD!” he says.

“We live in a ridiculous town,” I tell him.

He turns and goes away.

“I’m going to feel bored and useless all day,” Mary tells me before ending the call.

I’m not bored. Because I’m a writer I always have something entertaining to do. 

The COLD backyard. This is as far as either of us went from our door today. 

The COLD backyard. This is as far as either of us went from our door today. 

My teeth. 

My teeth.