The temperatures have dropped a little lately, becoming more…winterish. Chrissi saw a man bundled up in a thick coat while riding a scooter last week. She couldn’t help but laugh, and when she told me about it, we reminisced about our first winter together.
When we married, I imagine I terrified her parents. I had only a motorcycle, two pierced ears, and quit my job the day before of our ceremony. With nothing but cockiness and arrogance, I told her she had nothing to worry about, because I would get a job Monday—we had a weekend honeymoon to Eureka Springs in June, the location of my debut novel. And I did. I went out Monday morning and got a job working for a bank.
A couple of months later, I switched jobs and started working for a beverage company that sold to the world’s largest retailer. No problems—except for the fact that I still only had the motorcycle. We lived on the east side of Fayetteville, and I worked 31 miles away on the north end of Bentonville. About 30 minutes on a motorcycle.
Except in the cold. I remember stopping every five or six miles to warm up in convenient stores. My helmet was open faced, and my gloves were those thin cotton work gloves you buy at the store for 98-cents. I did have a pair of long underwear.
I would walk into the store, shivering terribly and stomping my feet in order to get some feeling back into my legs. When I had full function of my body parts once again, I would step out into the cold wind and dark to brave the arctic temperatures…for another five or six miles.
The normal body temperature of the average human is between 97.7 and 99.5 degrees Fahrenheit. For as long as I can remember, my internal body temperature on a normal healthy day at room temperature has been about 96.5 to 97.0 degrees. Hypothermia is defined as a body core temperature below 95 degrees. So, I guess I’m naturally close to hypothermic on a normal day. Hypothermia is also described as when the body releases more heat than it absorbs. During the winter, Chrissi uses me as a heating blanket because my body radiates heat. This can be detrimental to my health during the winter while riding 31 miles on a motorcycle.
One evening when I arrived back at our apartment in Fayetteville, Chrissi took my temperature because I could not stop shivering. The thermometer read 94 degrees! I was hypothermic. The confusion had not started yet, because I told her the best way to warm me up was for us to strip off all our clothes and cuddle. She didn’t believe me. As a result, I ended up taking a lukewarm bath. We had been married less than a year…we should have been naked in bed to keep warm. But then I would have made sure to come home from work hypothermic every day…even during the summer.
Chrissi told her parents, and her father gave me a set of orange, thermal coveralls and thicker gloves. I had a scarf and a heavy jacket that I wore under the coveralls. But since I had so many layers on, the coveralls wouldn’t zip up to the top. My father-in-law would often tell anyone we met about the orange snowman riding around Northwest Arkansas on a motorcycle. To make matters even worse, I cannot say this was a Harley or an Indian…this used to be my sister’s machine and even had a pink stripe on the side.