Why no snow?
The answer, my friend, is blowin' in my lost bronze boxers
T'was the night before Christmas, with not a snowflake around. Forecasters predicting mid-40s, ski trails muddy and brown.
After thinking carefully about it, I have decided to apologize for the overall lack of snow in December 2011. Forget about El Nino and La Nina. The fact is, I deserve credit for the previous six winters of good snow, and now the blame for the lack of snow as of late December.
The Chicago White Sox didn't win the World Series in 2005 because of Ozzie, Buhrle or Konerko. They won it because I wore my bronze-colored "Life is Good" boxers during their playoff run. The Blackhawks improved over the last five years and won the Stanley Cup in 2010 because of the same boxers (new management, Jonathan Toews and Kane notwithstanding).
I started wearing those "Life is Good" bronze boxers in late 2004. True, I mostly sat alone wearing them day after day during my teams' playoffs, but you can't argue with success. You can't argue with the magic of the bronze boxers. My nephew-in-law, Zach, a die-hard Chicago Cubs fan, pleaded with me to loan them to him so he could wear them while watching the Cubs play. But I had to reason with him. Some things are simply far beyond the reach of magic.
Alas, even the most magical things come to an end, or wear out, which is what happened to my magical boxers in 2011. So far, the replacement pair - same color, same size, same smiley-faced roller bladers printed all over them - has failed. Ozzie was released to Miami, the Hawks lost to Vancouver, the Bears were back to being the Bears, and December 2011 snowfall left a lot to be desired.
Coincidence? I think not.
Several years ago there was concern about the falling number of participants in the Birkie and the rising of the average participant's age. We haven't heard that concern since an uptick in Birkie registrations started the first year I put on those bronze boxers. This year's Birkie registration closed in November at 9,000 (9000!) racers.
Which brings me to why I am ultimately to blame for the lack of snow at the close of 2011.
Two years ago, my wife, son and I hosted my father-in-law's 80th birthday party on Birkie day, so I didn't race. Last year I had a stage play produced and it's theatrical run closed on Birkie day, and again didn't race. This year, well, the early closing of Birkie registration caught me off guard, so I can't race. As I recall the Birkie rules, if I don't race the Birkie for three consecutive years, the next time I register for the Birkie I'll have to start in wave 207. And I can't have that.
I suppose I could have hung on to those worn out, magical bronze boxers, patched them up, taken better care of them, washed them in the gentle cycle with Woolite, wear them anyway despite the holes, knowing their value to the world. After all, my magical bronze boxers brought us such great snow the last six winters. My only hope of avoiding wave 207 for Birkie 2013 is if Birkie 2012 is cancelled due to lack of snow and my finishing time from four years before is still considered for wave placement. Got that?
Yes, I became selfish, spiteful and even angry. It drove me crazy knowing that my magical boxer shorts, the very reason why Birkie attendance had skyrocketed with all that good snow for several years, was the very same reason why Birkie registration closed early and I got locked out. I admit that the Birkie office had sent regular emails to warn me about the imminent closing of registration, but I thought Birkie officials were just delirious from listening to "The Birkebeiner Rag" day after day.
My ire has since cooled and I'm ridden with guilt over the recent un-white Christmas. I decided to mend my ways and undertake Herculean efforts to make sure that January and February 2012 aren't snowless too. That is, I've been hunting hard for a new lucky charm to guarantee excellent snow for the remainder of the winter.
A neighbor swears by a lucky belt as the reason why his Packers have done so well, except when he couldn't find it in time for the Kansas City game. But he wouldn't part with it. Another friend offered his lucky Minnesota Vikings cap, but we all know that thing's got no magic.
It just so happened, though, that sometime in December, I found my ancient Kahru silver skate skiing boots, predating NNN II bindings. My first pair. Despite the multiple combinations of dubious odors wafting from its soles, I tried them on for old time's sake, and a second later the Blackhawks scored a short-handed goal which started a five-game winning streak. And an unexpected half-inch of snow fell instead of the predicted rain.
I admit that the ski boots don't go well with my lawyer suits or my pajamas. Actually, they don't go well with anything, and I refuse to put them in the wash because no mere human can know where a lucky charm's magic emanates from. The smell has got me isolated once more. Yet I endure for you, dear Birkie skier; all of you who were smart enough to take the closing registration warnings seriously. I wear the stinky silver skate boots to apologize for my revengeful tossing of my magical bronze boxers.
The lack of snow in December 2011 was my fault. I'm just trying to make amends. And if the boots don't cause a winter wonderland in 2012, that of course only further proves the power of my magical bronze boxers, and the Birkie office at least ought to be grateful for that.
You've got to believe me when I write, here in late December 2011, that I sincerely hope my old boots work and the snow will soon fall throughout the Midwest. If so, at Birkie 2013, please say hello with a smile. It will mean so much to me.
I'll be in wave 207.
Bruce Steinberg is a father, husband, lawyer and novelist in St. Charles, Illinois.