“A poet who reads his verse in public may have other bad habits.”
— Robert Heinlein
A couple of decades ago I was in a local Toastmasters club and entered a district “Tall Tale” contest. Our recent spate of snowy weather caused me to remember my winning entry:
The Blizzard of ‘82
I tell my tale through poetry,
the way tales were told of old,
when times were tough and adventures great,
and heroes all were bold.
For my adventure is an epic,
though incredible, I’ll admit,
for I know if I were you,
I’d believe me not a bit.
It was the month of January,
in a year that had seen snow,
when the famous blizzard came,
and the winds began to blow.
First two feet fell on Wednesday,
in a record-breaking warning;
for three more feet were on the way,
and on the ground by Saturday morning.
I went out to find the street,
which had vanished without traces,
and the snow had gotten past waist deep,
and into the darndest places.
But for my dog it was even worse,
to defy the law of nature,
which says five feet of snow’s too much,
for pet of 12-inch stature.
It was quickly obvious,
to all sane dogs and men,
that this was going to be a day,
best for staying in.
But by evening cabin fever had mounted,
even higher than my beer cans and the snow;
there was just one thing for the cure ?
a deep dish pizza to go!
I went out to find my car,
and with the aid of my faithful pup,
we located which drift it was under,
and I fired that sucker up.
My gallant car roared to life,
eager and ready to go,
but I could tell it was remembering,
warmer days in Tokyo.
I had great faith in my car,
(I sing the praises of front-wheel drive),
but for just a moment I wondered,
if we’d make it back alive.
We made our way onto the street,
untouched by hand or plow,
and started on our journey,
you’d have thought impossible until now.
Shouldering through the drifting snow,
we drove the narrow street;
on either side were lesser cars,
and empty cans of Heet.
Although the road was lost to sight,
I navigated well, I thought,
But after several moguls,
realized I was in a used Volkswagon lot.
Up ahead there was a snowplow,
stuck up to his axles,
so I pulled him out and thought,
“for this I’m paying taxes?”
But the front wheels kept on turning,
through ditch and drifted powder,
the wind was howling just outside,
so I turned the stereo up louder.
By now the wind was picking up,
and we were surrounded all by white,
I couldn’t see a blasted thing,
it may as well been blackest night.
So my dog got on my shoulders,
and put her head out of the sun roof,
and when she got the smell of pizza,
she gave a little “woof”.
With her barking directions,
we pulled up to the door.
I went in for pizza,
while she shook out her fur.
A hush fell on the crowd inside,
when I stepped into the room.
They wondered who this great man was,
who could brave the snow monsoon.
For they had been there several days,
afraid to venture out,
I was an instant hero,
and they gathered all about.
But I just picked up my pizza,
and another six-pack, just in case,
and pulling on my leather gloves,
I made to leave that place.
But then a lovely lady,
through her self down at my feets – uh,
I pushed her away because I knew,
she just loved me for my pizza.
“Please take me with you,” she begged,
clinging tightly to my waist,
“I promise I won’t eat much,
just a little taste!”
“Be gone,” I said, “Oh foolish one,
you surely must be mad!
This is not a fit night for you,
when you’re so scantly clad!”
I said if you’ll excuse me,
my pizza’s getting cold,
and I strode my way through that room,
like the purer men of old.
Warm and dry back in my house,
after the pizza and a few more beers,
I wondered how the story
would be told in coming years.
I realized I’d be the old-timer,
the children would all come to,
and climbing up on Grandpa’s lap they’d say,
“Tell us about the Blizzard of ‘82!”