The Coldest I Ever Was

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Tampa, Christmas Eve, 1989: The Southeast was experiencing one of its coldest holidays on record. In the Bay area, temperatures dropped as low as 25 degrees Fahrenheit. Massive heating demands led to power plant failures, and rolling blackouts were the consequence. Dad and I were holed up at home watching the Swedish film, My Life as a Dog. The living room couldn't have been more than 60 degrees, so every half-hour or so when the power went out, we'd hurry to the car to defrost, blasting the heat while listening to talk radio. We followed this routine for a while before venturing to the nearest convenience store to pick up some hot beverages. Upon leaving, we noticed a scantily-clad lady — shiny gold tank top, teeny tiny shorts, high heels, glitter — who was shivering her way down the sidewalk. My dad stopped and offered her a ride, it being Christmas Eve and all. She gratefully accepted, hopped in the back and gave us directions to her abode. I remember her heady perfume, her bubbly demeanor. She told us she was a dancer, and I remember my dad laughing about it after, and my confusion — at 10 years old, I thought that dancing seemed as good a job as any. I remember the chilly Christmas morning, opening presents wrapped in layers of blankets and afghans and my relief later, when we finally left for my mom's toasty warm apartment.

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