And then I went outside to shovel and never came back

All set with this, thanks. #snowpocalypse

A photo posted by Daddy Scratches (@daddyscratches) on

37 days till Sanibel Island … 37 days till Sanibel Island … 37 days till Sanibel Island … #snowpocalypse

A photo posted by Daddy Scratches (@daddyscratches) on

Nine hours after I took those photos, the epic blizzard — which, at the time that I snapped those shots, already had been raging for 16 hours — finally stopped.

Twenty-five hours of continuous, uninterrupted, “Holy shit, it’s really coming down out there!” snowfall.

Some people love snow. I am not one of those people (which I’m sure comes as a shock to those of you who already have read such classics as “Fuck you, snow” and “It’s the least wonderful time of the year”). Many who hear of my disdain for snow react with some variation of the following: “But Jon, you’re from Boston, aren’t you? You should be used to this!” And, yes, fucknuts, I am from Boston, and I am used to this … and neither of those things means I filled out a survey while in utero and checked off the box that said, “Hey, when this balloon bursts, I’d really love to pop out someplace where frozen water falls from the sky and the air is many dozens of degrees lower than my body temperature.” Two people from Massachusetts had sex 46 years ago and suddenly I’m supposed to embrace the concept of freezing my ass off and clearing a bazillion cubic tons of ice crystals out of my driveway with a really big spoon? I don’t think so.

Some people like to keep up with snow removal by repeatedly venturing outside in the midst of a raging blizzard so they can shovel incrementally throughout the day. I am not one of those people either. To me, that’s right up there with using the “snooze” button … and I would much rather set the alarm to go off at the time at which I actually need to get out of bed than have it startle me awake multiple times on the same morning. No thanks.

Unfortunately, I also am not one of those people who can sit back and relax while waiting for the storm to end … not when I know that the storm’s end will bring with it a herculean and loathsome task that I just want to attack and put behind me. And so, instead of going outside and shoveling incrementally throughout the day, or sitting back and relaxing while waiting for the storm to end, I basically spent all of Saturday prowling the house from window to window, engaging in a ferocious staring contest with Mother Nature. (I lost.) In the words of my ever-perceptive wife, I was “lit to pop.”

By nightfall, with the storm still in full swing, I had convinced myself that the shoveling would have to wait until morning. And I allowed myself to operate under that delusion until the snow finally let up around 8:30pm … at which point the pent-up, psychotic, “lit-to-pop”-soldier part of my brain yelled “Suit up, bitch! It’s ‘Go’ time!”

Let us travel back to 9 p.m. Saturday night, shall we? And since the front and back doors of the house are snowed shut, let us open the garage door to see what’s what.


And then my soul died.

Why would a human being willingly choose to live in a place where this happens? (Sadly, I cannot answer that question to my own satisfaction … which explains the inner turmoil raging inside me every winter.)


“Yes, I’m sure it looks ‘awesome’ to you, you pajama-wearing freeloader.”


This is the face of a man who, at the moment this photo was taken, would gladly have set flame to a convent full of nuns bottle feeding a litter of fluffy, white, baby harp-seal orphans if doing so would have gained him access to a snowblower.

“What’s the latest you’ll stay out till?” asked my wife.

“I don’t know,” I said.

“Midnight?” she suggested.

“Sure, midnight.”

What followed lives in my memory as a swirling blur of “The Howard Stern Show,” Skrillex, Sam Adams, water, sweat, and a total-body workout whose demands far exceeded my current level of fitness.

I shoveled. Like, forever. It would surprise me very little, in fact, to learn that the time I’ve spent writing this blog entry has been nothing more than an exhaustion-induced hallucination, and that I’m still shoveling right now.

By the time I finished clearing all of the two-car parking area (which extends from the garage to just past the rear of that van you see peeking out from beneath a snowdrift), it was 1:30 in the morning. So much for midnight … and so much for stopping.

“He’s not coming in until he finishes the whole thing,” my wife (I later learned) told my distressed mother (who was staying with us) just after midnight. “He’s in ‘Army’ mode now. He’s a like a robot.”

She was right. On Saturday night/Sunday morning, I tapped into that generally unneeded reserve of mental and physical strength whose existence I discovered while suffering through basic training many years ago. The point at which a normal human being feels like they’ve used up everything they’ve got? If you can push past that point, you’ll likely discover that there’s still a lot more left in the tank. Like, 70% more. Sure, accessing it requires slipping into an altered state that causes you (or, at least, causes me) to behave more like Heath Ledger’s Joker than a normal human being (which explains the maniacal cackling my neighbors probably heard in their dreams while I was performing “Snowpocalypse Now” in my driveway) … but once you know it’s there, it’s a valuable asset … and, ever-so-occasionally, I like proving to myself that I can still get there.

I didn’t know what time it was when I finally reached the part of the driveway into which the plows had directed waves of tightly compacted snow (because I had decided at 1:30 that I wasn’t going to look anymore); I just know it felt like I was shoveling rocks and half-dry cement. Whatever the case, it was about that same time that a dude driving a mid-sized snowplow got himself stuck in the end of a nearby driveway. (I later learned that this happened at around 3:30 a.m., at which time my mother told my wife that she’d not heard the sound of my shoveling for about 10 minutes. This led to my wife looking out windows until she finally spotted me at the end of the neighbor’s driveway, wedged between a snowbank and a plow blade … a disturbing sight, I’m sure, but it turns out I wasn’t trapped; I was just helping Plow Guy dislodge his truck. Because what I really needed after six-and-a-half hours of nonstop shoveling was a physical challenge.)

When we finally freed the truck, Plow Guy hopped out and pulled his billfold from his pocket.

“Dude, I don’t need money; I just need you to clear the end of my driveway.”

Given the the fact that there was nowhere within the confines of my driveway for him to push the snow, he did his best to shove some of it to the left and right sides … a boon to be sure, but it still took me about an hour to shovel away the rest of the cement—I mean snow.

With the end of the driveway finally cleared, I hopped in my car and started it up. The dashboard clock read 4:29. Yes, really.

By the time I finished cleaning off my car, my wife’s van, and shoveling away the snow where they’d been parked, it was 5 o’clock in the morning and I could barely keep my eyes open. I showered in a state of semi-consciousness, wolfed down a bowl of cereal and collapsed into bed with plans to sleep until June.

In spite of those plans, I woke around 11 a.m. … but still, I was determined to sit on my ass all damn day. Unfortunately, the snowplows that cleared the street while I slept had again filled in the end of my driveway, so my trusty shovel and I were reunited much sooner than I’d hoped we would be. Thankfully, Round 2 was a much lesser ordeal, and the Scratches Compound soon had a driveway that was envied by all who laid eyes upon it.

Street from driveway
Driveway from street

Sadly, the same could not be said of my front walk. Although I briefly flirted with the idea of shoveling it clean as well, I ultimately decided that front-door access was a luxury we could live without.

Blizzard 2016

“Front Walk” – a Daddy Scratches haiku
My dearest Front Walk
You can fuck right off till spring
I’m done with this shit

By Monday morning, I was back in my office, nursing a sore everything, and envying the kids’ snow day. So imagine my surprise when this happened:


See, you guys? Being a complete psycho isn’t just fun; it’s GOOD PARENTING.

Joker Scratches

Father of the Year
(Why so serious?)

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to get back to these Gulf Coast real-estate listings …

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