Much of the nation has been suffering from a cold snap of epic proportions, but there are always a few jokers who don't get the message.
I know you've seen them: the oddballs flitting about in shorts and tank tops while everyone else is shivering, chattering and holding a hair dryer to their water pipes.
My mother has an all-purpose phrase for people whom she considers to be attention-craving outliers: "He thinks he's cute." If the cuteness factor is indeed the goal in the aberrant behavior, I must say our standards for cute have declined over the decades. "Cute" used to be Shirley Temple or Opie Taylor or Furby toys. Now apparently it involves walking around with knees that require a glacier core sample instead of X-rays.
But narcissism can't be the whole answer. I'm sure some skimpy dressers are sincerely planning to "pop in" at the diner or the bookstore and can't be bothered with all the muss and fuss of dressing in layers. Unfortunately, their friends have to bother with helping them cope with their life choices. ("Yes, yes, this 50th skirt you've tried on is exactly the shade of blue that matches your lips.")
And I guess some people are just so wrapped up in weightier matters that they can't be bothered with trifles such as ear muffs and wool socks. They worry about gun-violence records that have been shattered or immigrants whose dreams have been shattered. Truthfully, they should also save a little time to worry about their eyebrows that have been shattered.
Perhaps the distinctive winter garb is an attempt to attract kindred spirits. But a successful romance may not be an easy thing. ("How do I love thee? Let me count the ways ... Darn! I'm already running out of fingers to count on.")
Some of the semi-dressed folks will meet your stares with macho declarations of "Hey, I'm Superman -- or what Superman would be if his 'kryptonite' was having a mustache with 3 pounds of snot frozen on it."
I'm sure some of the adventurous minority don't really feel that cold. I'm sorry, but they have a medical problem. Maybe they were bitten by a radioactive thyroid gland or something. ("With great power comes great opportunities for skinny-dipping in a frozen lake!") I don't want to be anywhere near them when they spontaneously combust.
Then again, it might be a nice change of pace from the tedium of winter. Instead of shoveling snow, I could shovel their ashes.
I know I've aged into a curmudgeon with thinning skin and less tolerance for temperature extremes. I've metaphorically turned into the stereotypical overprotective mother who lectures her children to remember their mittens and mufflers. But at least I've achieved this age, which may not be true for the advocates of "Live fast, die young and leave a good-looking diagram of how to defrost my corpse for the funeral."
If I can dress properly for summer, why do some rebels struggle with winter? Dude, I don't arrive at your Independence Day cookout via sled dog. Don't come breezing into the store wearing flip flops after I've spent 15 minutes scraping my windshield!
I hope a few of the mavericks will turn over a new leaf and try adopting a more traditional winter wardrobe. Run it up the flagpole and see who salutes. No, don't lick the flagpole.