The Day It Snowed in San Diego
[audio:https://newfound.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/San Diego.mp3|titles=”The Day It Snowed in San Diego” by Brian Conlon]
The day it snowed in San Diego, the rest of the country was 70 degrees and sunny.
The day it snowed in San Diego, residents owned over 800,000 shovels; unfortunately, 780,000 were small plastic sand shovels.
The day it snowed in San Diego, the children filled the streets upon orders from their parents to eat the snow until it was reduced to a more manageable level. The children initially heeded their parents’ instructions until realizing the snow was cold and not particularly tasty, but could be balled up and thrown. The parents stayed inside and watched, or didn’t watch, as the children disobeyed by displacing the snow, not from the streets into their bodies, but from one side of the street to another, or from the ground onto the neighbor’s dog, or from a car onto the back of the girl they secretly admired. Afraid of the strange new society they had inadvertently created, no parents chose to join. “What are the rules?” one bearded father muttered while licking melted chocolate off his fingers.
The day it snowed in San Diego, a delicate balance was struck between those who had seen snow before and those who had not. Those who had seen snow spoke for hours about their various experiences, the different possible consistencies, how each might affect traffic, what wind chill meant, who generally calculated it, what would happen if it rained after it snowed, was it worth it to buy snow tires, could snow tires be used for rain, what would happen when the snow melted, what would happen if you fell in it, whether an umbrella was traditionally used, why an umbrella was or was not used, what their favorite snow game was, what type of drinks were most effective, what drugs, if any, were recommended, if “The Christmas Story” realistically depicted snow, ice, tongues, consumerism, or lamp fetishes, how snow affected various fabrics, how many inches were normal for other places, how many inches were abnormal, how many words for snow Eskimos had, how many Eskimos usually arrived with the snow, what types of weapons might the Eskimos have should they arrive, why the Eskimos were really not a big concern, and why avoid discolored snow, no matter what the color. Those who had not seen snow before spent hours with their mouths open, their tongues dabbing at the flakes.
The day it snowed in San Diego, thirty-four new religions were founded within the city limits. A total of fifty-seven gods came into existence, fifty-three of which used snow as their primary mode of communication and thirty-six of which used snow exclusively to indicate that the world was about to end.
The day it snowed in San Diego, a parade was held in Rochester, New York, to commemorate the first time anyone in San Diego had said, “I’d rather be in Rochester, New York.” The parade was relatively small, but when it passed the George Eastman House, there was a collective picture taken with an old-style camera. The picture was developed in due time by The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle and sent to The San Diego Union Tribune with this proposed caption: “Kodak Moment: Rochester Parades on San Diego Snow!” The San Diego Union Tribune rejected both the photo and the caption, noting, “The Statue of Liberty is right there and still they complain!”
The day it snowed in San Diego, five police officers were given the honor of watching over the zoo. Unbeknownst to them, the lions already had an emergency protocol, which, at its core, involved absolutely no police officers. When the officers finally arrived, they were unable to unlock the gate. Taking initiative, a red-haired officer peered in through the steel bars and decided that all was well. The lions were quite pleased their plans were not spoiled and celebrated by huddling together in their cages for warmth.
The day it snowed in San Diego, a displaced New Englander bragged to her coworkers. She said, “Back in New Hampshire, this would be like a nice March day. I’m telling you, if we didn’t get 20 inches, they wouldn’t even bother plowing. You’d just have to brush off your car and will your way to work. We refused to wear a coat unless it was below 20 degrees, and mittens, they were out of the question unless it was below 10, and snow pants, well, snow pants, we used to wear all the time. I think it was a fashion thing.” Her coworkers responded, “I’m sorry, but I am out of the office right now. Feel free to leave a message, and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.”
The day it snowed in San Diego, all the banks closed, except one. Around 11:00 a.m., some children entered the bank and demanded rolls of dimes. The teller refused. The children returned around 12:30 p.m. with a red wagon full of snowballs, which the children quickly unloaded by throwing in the direction of the teller. The teller cowered and asked, “How many rolls do you want?” “All of them, absolutely all of them!” replied the children.
The day it snowed in San Diego, the mayor was in Cleveland, Ohio, at a large city mayoral summit. Upon hearing the news of the fate of his beloved city, he broke out into rollicking laughter. “No, it’s not,” he kept repeating to the dismay of the other mayors. Finally, Cleveland’s mayor proposed a resolution that would force San Diego’s mayor to concede that it was, in fact, snowing in San Diego. The resolution passed with San Diego’s mayor as the only dissenter. After the vote, San Diego’s mayor laughed even louder, repeating, “No, it’s not.”
The day it snowed in San Diego, several thousand birds thought about flying south, but decided to give the city one more day to return to normalcy. Several hundred birds were not as patient. Upon entering Tijuana, the birds found it extremely difficult to assimilate into the Tijuana birds’ culture. For one, the established hierarchy amongst the Tijuana birds was entirely too complicated for the San Diego birds to understand. The San Diego birds did find one tree that seemed to be removed from this complex structure. However, after the sun went down, all the owls that inhabited the tree came out and scowled at them.
The day it snowed in San Diego, a newswoman was sent to report on the conditions. She was accompanied by a cameraman who desired very much for the newswoman to have his children. As the snow fell upon the newswoman’s cropped blonde hair, the cameraman zoomed in on one particular snowflake that stuck to the newswoman’s bangs and refused to melt. “As you can see, there is fluffy white matter falling in small clumps from the sky and covering our beloved city. Our beloved city covered in white fluffiness,” said the newswoman with everything but her forehead off camera. “It’s not melting, it’s not melting,” said the cameraman, pointing to the newswoman’s bangs. The newswoman swiped at her bangs with her bare hand, and the flake stuck to her fingernail. Just then, the cameraman was pelted in the back with a snowball. As he looked down, six dimes fell into the snow. Five children pointed and laughed. “Someday they could be ours,” said the cameraman to the newswoman as he bent over to pick up the dimes.
The day it snowed in San Diego, a local podcast host delivered the following address to the people of San Diego: “Climate change, climate change, climate change. It means the weather is changing, and it is! I left my window open last night, and, now, now, my carpet is wet and my cat is avoiding me. He senses the end is near. Mr. Tibs, I have a treat for you, Mr. Tibs, Tibsy, here kitty kitty….”
The day it snowed in San Diego, a corporate sleazeball rolled into town on the backs of five or six hardworking Americans. The hardworking Americans hatched a plan to stop abruptly, and the sleazeball rolled off their backs into a nasty puddle. The sleaze oozed into the gutter and infiltrated the homes of absolutely everyone.
The day it snowed in San Diego, there was a spontaneous candlelight vigil started outside of Petco Park by a group of Padres fans that feared the snow might mean that baseball was becoming irrelevant. Eventually some 2,600 people joined in the four-hour vigil. Half of the crowd was instructed to hold their candles like baseball bats, while the other half stood around, occasionally trying to light the snow on fire. The vigil broke up when a group of children strolled up with a dump truck full of snowballs. Three strong-armed 9-year-olds jumped up and started throwing the snowballs as hard as they could at the candle-holders. While this frightened some of the participants, most took it as a sign that baseball was here to stay and began swinging their candles, running in circles whenever they made contact with a ball.
The day it snowed in San Diego, the children grew tired of their newfound authority and returned to their homes to sit and marvel at what had been, what could have been, and what was not. The next morning the streets were littered with wet dimes, some rusted.
Brian Conlon is a graduate of the University of Rochester and Harvard Law School. His work has recently appeared in The Montreal Review, Knee-Jerk, and The Write Room. He lives in Rochester, New York. It snows there frequently.