Humor Column: Giving Me the Shivers


Humor Column: Giving Me the Shivers

Rebecca Klempner

Chanukah is almost here, and that means the temperature here in L.A. may soon dip below 50 degrees Fahrenheit—at least at night.


I tease my husband when I see him return from shul in the morning. There he is, tallis case swinging from its strap, wearing a ski cap, a scarf, a sweater, and a jacket. The only reason he doesn’t wear gloves is because he keeps losing them.

In the same weather, I walk outside with a shirt and skirt. Maybe I have my puffy vest on, but mostly it’s for the pockets, because as all women know, the designers of women’s clothes have a serious misunderstanding about women’s need for pockets. And my hat? Merely worn for tznius.

The difference between my husband and myself is that he has lived his entire life in Southern California, and I have not. He has never woken up to a snow day. He’s never shoveled a driveway. In fact, my husband never saw snow fall from the sky until he was 29 years old. (We were driving through the Sierras on the way back from seeing my grandparents in Vegas. He said, “That’s funny—why can I see the rain?” He couldn’t tell those were flurries flying by the windshield. I laughed so hard I nearly had an asthma attack.)

Our children are also native Californians, and three of them share his intolerance to cold. The eldest, however, handles cold relatively well. While he too has always lived in a Mediterranean climate, he must have inherited my father’s great-great-grandfather’s Viking genes. Or maybe some good Litvak genes from my mother’s side. My eldest can walk around in shirtsleeves so long as the temperature doesn’t dip below 45.

He would fit in just fine in Minnesota.

I find it highly amusing that what Angelenos consider to be “normal” outdoor temperatures are pretty much what other human beings consider “room temperature.” The funny thing is come wintertime, some family members expect conditions inside our home which would be described as “beach weather” to the rest of the country. When my 8-year-old complains at 6:30 a.m. that she is cold, I advise her to wear her warm pajamas rather than stroll around the house in the short-sleeved nightgown she wore last July. When my husband shivers while learning after putting the kids to bed, I suggest a robe. “There’s one hanging in your closet,” I point out.

Instead, they crank up the heat. And I start to shvitz.

Occasionally, my husband and I talk about leaving Southern California in order to find more affordable housing. When I explain to him what winter is like in places like Baltimore, Minneapolis, and Cleveland, he oohs and aahs like I’m describing some exotic locale.

“At shul, there’s a cloakroom. You stash your coat and any rain gear there.”

His eyes bug out. “Really?”

“At school, too,” I assure him. “And people go shopping and conduct their business as normal when it rains.”

“Now you’ve got to be kidding me.”

I don’t think we’re moving to Baltimore anytime soon. Other the other hand, there are plenty of Jews in Boca. And what about Dallas? There are Jews in Dallas!

It’s too bad I hate the heat.