Dancing with the Dogs of Winter

Ah, January and February in the northern hemisphere.  Those bleak winter months when, at least where I live, the short days and long nights prowl restlessly about, like angry black dogs, in the darkness just beyond your personal campfire of routines and basic comforts.  Stray too far from that security and warmth, and who knows what will happen to you?

This is to say that the conventional wisdom would suggest it’s a time of year to pull in your horns, to recuperate from the bacchanalian extravagances and over-the-top stresses of the holiday season.  It’s the time when many of us tend to take up a new and more conservative approach to life.  Discipline and asceticism become our watchwords.  We cut back on rich foods, spend more time at home.  Goose liver pate, cheap champagne, and mugs of Irish coffee with whipped cream give way to pots of green tea and bowls of brown rice with lightly steamed vegetables; disco balls and lost weekends are replaced by Netflix binges and Hockey Night in Canada.

Well, bugger that, says I.  Sitting around watching Mad Men reruns and organizing Jenga marathons only means you are letting the doldrums win, when you should be sending them the message that you are ready and able to kick their asses.  What you need to do is break free of that mindset, and of mundane routine.  Now, more than ever, is the time to inject a little high-octane fuel and atomic glitter into your bloodstream.  You need to find the existential equivalent of cardio paddles and give a good jolt of surprise to your snowbound soul.

I’m not saying you need to go to ridiculous extremes.  You don’t need to stock up on designer pharmaceuticals or start attending black masses.  Necessarily.  (Those are both so 2018 as far as I’m concerned.) But perhaps it would be a good idea to get out a bit more, shake things up, expose yourself to novel ideas and new experiences.

For me, one of the best ways of doing this is to get out during the week and embrace the cultural life of the city I live in.  If you’re lucky enough to live in a place with thriving arts scene, maybe you should dive into it.  On a Tuesday night, find yourself a grungy underground punk club or blues bar, the kind with two-dollar draft and orange velour coverings tacked to the top of chipped Formica tables.  (Hell, maybe you could even start a punk band of your own.  Snake Boy and the Shanghai Rats?) Thursday sounds like a perfect time to get a red dragon neck tattoo.  Friday, buy tickets to the opera, and after that go to a drag show.  Don’t live in a place where those sorts of diversions are readily available? No prob-llama.  How’s about taking up a new hobby or learning a new skill? Enroll yourself in needlepoint or dog-sledding lessons.

Above all, don’t be conservative, be extravagant.  As Dorothy Parker once pointed out, “Take care of the luxuries, and the necessities will take care of themselves.” Don’t timidly waste your money on soul-sucking streaming and cable movie services, overpriced sporting events, or ho-hum kitchen renovations.  Blow your cash boldly and recklessly by going online and buying an art deco cigarette case and Venetian lace underwear.  Just don’t let it get to the point where you have to cut back on absolute necessities, such as cigarettes and bourbon.

This winter, let’s take a cue from wise and sexy Mother Nature herself.  On the day that I write this, she is preparing to step out tonight wearing her slinkiest glittery black velvet dress, adorned with crushed diamond ice crystals, and beautifully accessorized with a Super Blood Wolf Moon.  It may be thirty below here, but she will be kicking up her heels and dancing under the star filled skies with wild abandon.  Perhaps we should consider doing that very same thing, in our own individual and unique ways.  Let those dogs of winter hump our legs and lick our hands.

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