Heavy snow accumulation. The words escape the weatherman's lips. It reaches the ear. It travels to the brain.
And it triggers a jittery, uncontrollable need for bread and milk.
Why, even if we're so lactose intolerant we'd get irritable bowel from one lonely Milk Dud....
Even if we're Living La Vida Gluten-Free...
...We Pittsburghers still grab the keys, revv up the car and roar to the closest Giant Eagle supermarket to stock up for three months of total geographic isolation, by buying things that mold and spoil if you look at them the wrong way.
So, I go to the store and, in an attempt to strike a note of stoic individuality, I buy hamburger buns and coffee creamer.
"These are not milk and bread. They are non-dairy creamer and sandwich fixin's," my shopping basket proclaims proudly. "Judge not, lest thine Wonderbread and Colteryahn 2% be judged."
And, well, while I'm there at the store, I decide I'd better just pick up some more toilet paper, too. Because what if I suddenly develop dysentery during my seclusion? Or... or... scurvy? (Does scurvy involve intestinal issues? No time to look it up, but why take chances?)
Why, I'd be forced to use... I don't know... sheets from the Pennysaver!
And not only would that clog up my drains, but the print would transfer itself in ways I'd prefer to not think about. There are just certain places on the body that do not need ads for purebred pitbull puppies decorating them.
So with toilet paper in tow, I realize I might want also to cook myself a nice hearty breakfast before digging out. To give myself the superhuman energy to move the artic ice caps that undoubtedly will be moving into my neighborhood.
And so I'll need eggs...
And, well, if I want toast, maybe I'll need that loaf of whole grain wheat after all...
I stack it in the basket with a furtive gaze, and in an instant, I feel a flash of chilled hands and frozen toes.
Dear God! Post-shoveling I'll want a cup of tea. Do I have tea in the house?
And in spite of some sense that there's actually stack of tea in the pantry so towering that Earl Grey himself would say "pip-pip" to it, I secure another box. Safety tea, really.
So by the time I've done, my basket is a low-rider and my 12-items-or-less has somehow transformed into the fully-stocked freezer of the Overlook Hotel.
And I can see, by the bulging grocery bags of my fellow shoppers, that I am not the only one. This behavior really needs itself a name. And I'd like to suggest "Snow Day Donner Party Overcompensation Syndrome."
I suspect it's borne of some innate fear that one day, lack of preparation and an Apocalyptic dose of Mother Nature will mean we'd be force to dine on... oh... Grandpa Al to survive.
We know deep down that even if we made it through the crisis ourselves, the post-dinner guilt of noshing on beloved relatives would kill us.
Plus, Grandpa Al is a little stringy.
It's just safer to buy the bread and milk.
Question of the day: In your area, do you see the bread aisle pretty much cleaned out at the first sign of flurries? And are you one of those snowstorm stocker-uppers?