Make it a warm girl winter
Evan McKenna | Wednesday, January 12, 2022
I’m a country bumpkin. You might not guess it from looking at me, talking to me or interacting with me in any way, but I hail from Morristown, Tennessee, a small town nestled in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains. Yeehaw.
And I think I had a pretty authentic southern experience. There’s a cow field about a half-mile from my house, I have a soft spot for bluegrass music, I love sweet tea (the kind where you don’t have to stir in the sugar yourself) and although I don’t have an accent, I was surrounded by twang growing up. You should hear my sister; she sounds like Larry the Cable Guy.
Don’t even get me started on the weather down there. It’s glorious. During the winter months, Morristown sits pretty in the 30s and 40s. I’ll wear Chacos in January. Snow is a rarity, but when it does come, the town descends into chaos. We don’t put salt on our roads; we’re too busy putting it on our food.
So you can imagine my surprise when I experienced my first winter in South Bend, Indiana. I was shocked. I was appalled. I was inconsolable. I was cold as hell. I had never really owned a pair of winter boots, and I didn’t have a real winter coat — one of those long ones everyone seems to inexplicably own once you cross above the Mason-Dixon Line.
Let me paint a picture for you. It’s my freshman year, and I’m walking across campus. It’s January, and I can probably count the temperature on two hands. Perception still clouded by my temperate Tennessee naivete, I’m wearing jeans and a sweater — a thin sweater — and shoes with the slip resistance of ice skates. I’m a laughingstock. I’m an idiot. I’m a country bumpkin in the midst of a blizzard.
And as I’m walking, I come to the Law School archway. Just as I start passing under, a fierce icy gale blows through the air, and the Notre Dame Law School archway becomes a wind tunnel of deadly proportions. The cold air assaults me. Snowflakes the size of cornflakes blind me. Shards of ice pierce my skin and my sweater. I’m the coldest I’ve ever been in my entire life.
But I make it out alive. I skate across the slick sidewalks to the toasty safety of South Dining Hall. Once my fingers thaw out, I text my mom, in true dramatic fashion: “I think that was the coldest I’ve ever been in my entire life.”
But things got colder. I lived through the rest of that South Bend winter, and then two more. I even survived 2019’s polar vortex, when the tri-campus community closed due to double-digit negative temperatures.
So yes, I can brave the Midwest winters — but I’ve never really conquered them. I survive, but never with much dignity left. As spring starts, I’m always left in a state of shock: numb, defeated, still shivering a bit.
And I’ve always used my southern roots as an excuse for my ill-preparedness. “I’m just not built for this weather,” I’ll say, in a terrible fake southern accent. “I’m just a poor old country bumpkin.”
But there’s no more time for excuses. I’m tired of submitting to the cruelty of South Bend winters. This time around, we’re taking matters into our own hands.
You heard it here first, folks: It’s warm girl winter.
“But Evan,” you say, shivering. “What is warm girl winter?”
I’m glad you asked. Warm girl winter is the latest installment in the adjective-noun-season phenomenon, beginning with rapper Megan Thee Stallion’s hot girl summer. Since then, we’ve had our hot girl semester. We witnessed the Christian girl autumn renaissance. And who can forget outdoorsy girl semester?
So you know the drill. This winter, we’re not letting the cold conquer us; we’re conquering the cold. Grab your mittens. Lace up your boots. Zip up your coat. I don’t care if it ruins your outfit — zip it up. All the way. And put on some earmuffs while you’re at it.
No longer will we walk into class damp and disheveled, hair frozen and shoes still squeaky. We’ll stride in with confidence, with a cute scarf tied expertly around our necks, mittened hands holding a warm tea, cheeks just the right amount of rosy red. We’ll be the envy of all our cold classmates.
Oh, you slipped on the ice? You wiped out on the sidewalk? Right in front of LaFun, at peak lunchtime rush hour? And the entire campus saw you?
Too bad. Get back up. Pull yourself together. You’re embarrassing us all. It’s warm girl winter, and warm girls never slip.
And most importantly, remember the golden rule of warm girl winter: Never, ever complain about the weather. The second you utter those two ill-fated words — “I’m cold” — you’re letting the winter win. You’re letting the warm girls down. You’re not cold. Warm girls are never cold. What is cold? I don’t know her.
It’s a mind game, really. Heat is a social construct. You’re not cold until you think you’re cold. I’m a psych major; do not challenge me on this.
So this warm girl winter, think warm thoughts. Layer like you’ve never layered before. Strut your stuff down the icy sidewalks, and look good doing it.
And never — I repeat, never — let the winter win.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.