Thursday, December 11, 2008

Report from Houston - "It's snowing like a pig down here"

Well, you just never know. It snowed in Houston last night. Not just a little, but plenty. We had an inch in our NE suburb. There were 2" or more in other eastern areas. Of course, most of the area just saw flakes in the air for a little while. But we had some big-flake, wet-packing, snowman-rolling snow last night.

Key quotes:

"Put on a sweater and your Crocs and come outside - it's snowing. "
"Can you find the remote and turn on the fireplace?"
"The hot chocolate is too rich."

A story from the past - "It's snowing like a pig out there".

My freshman year in college was spent at the Honors College at Louisiana State University. How I got there from Chicago and why I turned down several Ivy League offers cannot be easily explained. Regardless, at winter break, one of my new good fraternity friends came to visit me in Chicago.

His name was Jim Marvin, but we knew him as Chaulkie. At the time and to this day I don't know how he got that nickname. He was born and raised in New Orleans and had never been north or seen snow. I remember he had a great love for Elton John (? - OK, whatever).

So Chaulkie came up to Chicago, and on the first night, made a dozen trips outside to scan the sky for snow. I explained that it doesn't snow all the time. In fact, even if snow is forecast, it didn't necessarily mean we'd for certain get snow.

But Chaulkie was persistent. He continued to diligently check for snow. Forlorn, he saw no snow on his first night in town. Nor his second. He was getting impatient. So, when on the third night the slightest flurry was seen, he came running into the house to report it. I dutifully went out to observe an occasional, miniscule flake.

Undeterred by the lack of magnitude, Chaulkie stayed outside, ever vigilant. I returned in to watch an old movie. About an hour later, Chaulk blew the door open, and breathlessly exclaimed, "Guff, Guff. It's snowing.......". He was at a loss for description. I took it that the flurries intensified a bit.

"Guff, Guff. It's snowing like a PIG out there.".

The phrase has liven in infamy ever since.

Chaulkie never could explain the pig reference. It's ironic, as a pig reference was totally out of character for him. He wasn't a bumpkin from the bayous. He was a New Orleans city kid. Pretty darn sophisticated.

Sadly, for me, the story doesn't end there. Seeing the light dusting of white powder on our black tarmac driveway, Chaulkie expected a soft, downy landing place for me as he tackled me to the pavement. Such behavior was typical male bonding. Kind of a fraternity boy gesture of endearment. Little did he yet know that it would have taken about half a foot or more or the white stuff to ensure a painless fall.

Nonetheless, Chualkie's excitement lives on. The phrase "snowing like a pig out there" is now well known to a couple dozen of my friends who have heard this story over the years, and as of last night, to my kids.


Michael5000 said...

And now to me. There's apparently a good chance that it's gonna snow like a pig here in the City of Roses this weekend, something that can't be much more common than snow in Houston. Bring it!

mydogischelsea said...

It DID snow like a pig here in the City of Roses!!! The last time I remember snow was nearly two years ago... some how I imagine it's still more rare in Houston.

I hope you weren't too badly injured by the driveway body slam.

Phineas said...

Yes - quite rare here. We had a couple flurries on Christmas Eve in 2004. Nothing accumulated. But the kids were so excited that a layer of ice had formed on the surface of one of our fountains that they broke off pieces of ice and stored them in the freezer until summertime.

I vaguely recall a couple bruises from the tackle. But I was a kid - if it happened now I'd be crippled.

Anonymous said...

I googled the phrase "snowing like a pig" because my husband has used that phrase for i don't know how long. with anything...rain, snow, that is what he says. we say it around here. funny to know others have used it as well. is nice in west virginia today, now summertime. had to comment on that

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KarmaSartre said...

Phineas - good to see you back @ Wordplay...

Anonymous said...

I've used the phrase "like a pig" for snow and rain since the early 80's when I was a college student at ODU in Norfolk, VA. For me the phrase came from my own drunken mind at the end of a long night of misadventure. As I walked home sad, lonely and bleeding in the pouring rain, it occured to me and I said outloud to myself "I'm bleeding like a pig and it's raining like pig."

"Like a pig" was apparently burned in to some weather description track in my brain and I was never able to loose it. It is now burned in to the brains of my wife, four kids, and more than a few friends, none of whom know how the phrase came to me.