Bruce Van Dyke is on vacation, but he’s left a legacy of seasonal advice for all to fall back on. This vintage BVD column first ran in the RN&R Nov. 12, 1998.
It begins on that day in late October when the clocks fall back. There’s nothing gradual about it. The Dark Season is upon us. Sunset was after 6 p.m. just a few weeks ago, but now dusk settles in before 5 p.m. Your shadow at 3:30 p.m. in November looks longer than the shadow you cast at 7:30 p.m. in August.
Fleets of burly gray clouds come in and get stuck on the mountains for days at a time. The wind, your good buddy in the summer when it blows the sweat off your forehead, becomes El Bastardo, a frigid, mean-spirited force inflicting well-defined goose bumps on those who dress like dopes. Your flesh begins to crave sunlight, yearning for the Vitamin D we get from its photons. Your flesh goes without. You begin to think dark thoughts about dark things.
Are you ready for the Dark Season? Here’s a list that will help you get through to the Warm Season, which will happen in April if we’re lucky, June if we’re not:
1. Turtleneck shirts. Get a bunch of turtlenecks with tight cuffs and necks that only grudgingly give up your precious body heat. The neck, it has to be emphasized, has to be tight, tight enough to support your jowls. Baggy turtlenecks are useless, unless the temperature is 65 degrees or higher. Get at least 15 turtlenecks in a wide range of colors, including burgundy, plum and Cheeto-dust orange—great thermal shirts for both sexes are essential for enjoying life in the cold desert. Some dedicated turtleneckers wear nothing on their torsos but these shirts for the entire Dark Season—again depending on whether winter is reasonable or way out of line.
2. Load up the liquor cabinet with time-honored Dark Season edge-burners like Tia Maria, Bailey’s, Kahlúa and brandy—anything that blends nicely with coffee. When it’s time to have a great coffee drink, you want the ammo in the house. And if you mix up a good coffee drink only to glop it all up with canned whipped cream, your calloo is exceeded only by your callay. Stay away from that stuff. You’ll end up in an iron lung with a colostomy bag. Don’t let pressurized dairy products laced with bizarre stabilizers and bovine hormones adulterate the essence of your cuckoo coffee bender.
3. Hot tub. Get one if it’s at all possible, and it won’t doom the kids to junior college. Not only is a hot tub on your patio a great place to warm up your bones, have a nice chat, experience the soothing effect of chlorine, gaze upon the night sky and pee, it’s also a fantastic place to kiss. Rubbing people with nice skin in hot water is a terrific recreational activity that’s actually enhanced by the Dark Season.