Maxed Out 

Survival skills for newcomers to B.C.

Welcome to Whistler, Backwards Capital of Canada.

Lest you take offence at me labeling your — new, for those of you who have just arrived and are still awaiting official status as Instant Locals; long-time, for those of you who have been here at least 18 months — happy mountain town backwards, I’d like to explain why, in the words of the self-help industry, I’m right and you’re less right, or, what we used to call simply wrong before scientists discovered the vital role self-esteem plays in making us all happy to be mediocre.

In all of Canada, from sea to sea to sea, and in most of the rest of the world, dry, sunny and warmer weather is considered good. At least better than wet, dismal, colder weather. By a long shot. But if you were half awake and wandering the village earlier this week when it was dry, sunny and warm, you would have noticed two seemingly distinct human reactions to the weather.

One reaction was a very human mélange of depression, rage, malaise and utter disgust. People suffering from this emotional soup could be seen shaking their fists at the sun, muttering muffled obscenities and gazing forlornly skyward. Behind their public mask of disappointment they were, simultaneously, at their wit’s end and near tears. They sublimated by going for runs, long bike rides and salved their anger with alcohol and recreational drugs. Groups of them could be heard forming impromptu posses and discussing admittedly vague plans to round up a virgin to sacrifice to Ullr, Norse god of snow. As if.

Professionals in the touchy-feely world of psychology consider these reactions healthy. Far more troubling were the very few malcontents lying about actually pretending they were enjoying the warm sunshine. The same caring professionals were quick to label these poor, deluded souls as suffering in the, quite possibly terminal, throes of Denial. They could be seen mingling among them, offering words of healing and encouragement, passing out business cards and administering much needed hugs.

Only in a backward town is good weather so soul-sappingly bad and bad weather exuberantly good. And let’s admit it, at this point, you’d sell your mama for a really good — bad? — snowstorm, wouldn’t you?

So what happens when that snowstorm finally arrives? Well, in most of the rest of the world, when people awake to find, say, three feet — 90 centimetres or 900 millimetres if you really want to blow the minds of your metric-challenged friends — of snow has fallen overnight, their first instinct is to slip back into their warm beds and hope they were just dreaming. When they find out they weren’t, they panic. They can’t get to work, their kids can’t get to school which, in any event, has been cancelled. If they live in Toronto the mayor calls out the army to shovel snow and keep order. If they live elsewhere, they shovel themselves and many, sadly, succumb to heart attacks when the previous evening’s Cheezies lodge in a coronary artery. The survivors band together in neighbourhood posses and go hunting for virgins to appease Rllu, the Norse god of antisnow. These are all considered normal reactions to heartbreaking natural disasters, which is what they call deep snowstorms.

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