Winter Wear

When The Curmudgeon was a teenager living at home with his family he would wait until what appeared to be the coldest Tuesday night of the winter, strip down to a t-shirt, shorts, and his bare feet, and take the family’s trash to the curb. It’s not up there with mooning while driving down Frankford Avenue but it was a nice stunt – and not that difficult. The driveway was only long enough for two cars and there would only be three or four bags of trash, which could be carried two at a time, so it wasn’t exactly a great feat. A feat, yes, but a great one, not really.

But that was long ago and The Curmudgeon is no longer quite so hardy.

Over the years he has told himself that he will not permit the weather to bother him – except for rain, which anyone who wears glasses will tell you is really, really annoying. He doesn’t let extremes of heat bother him and he doesn’t let extremes of cold bother him.   As he got older and started losing his hair he began wearing caps, but that was his only real concession to the weather. A lot of folks who live in four-season climates don’t spend a whole lot of time out of doors in the winter and The Curmudgeon is definitely one of them, so years would pass without him so much as buttoning his coat and he rarely wore gloves.

But then he became a dog owner (by marriage) and discovered that when you walk the dog at 10 p.m. in the winter it’s cold out, damn cold, and that realization led to his first real efforts in life to dress more appropriately for cold weather.

He was fine in the coat department and started using that long-ignored zipper.

And your neck gets cold, too, so he started wearing scarves.

Yes, THAT bald

Next came his head, which – totally bald, Yul Brynner bald, Telly Savalas bald, Mr. Clean bald –needed some serious help. So it was good-bye to caps and hello to hats.

But not just any hats. Most men have hair on the back of their heads, so the focus of most hats is on the top of the head, not the back – more like a cap. The first hat The Curmudgeon tried did a decent but not great job on top but wasn’t anywhere near long enough in the back, leaving a lot of lower head/upper neck exposed. The second hat was both warmer and longer and covered more of the neck, but it had a silly pom-pom on top – is there any kind of pom-pom that isn’t silly? – and therefore was suitable only for after-dark use, which made it only a partial solution because The Curmudgeon now lives in a town where there are actually places to walk, so as someone who works at home, he tries to save some of his errands so he can do them on foot during his lunch hour.

Stupid hat #1

But the lighter hat wasn’t warm enough and the pom-pom hat was ridiculous and The Curmudgeon needed more, both for those noon-time walks and especially for the evening walks with Mrs. Curmudgeon and Sable, the dog. So off The Curmudgeon went on a magical mystery tour of stores that sold hats: Macy’s and Marshalls, T.X. Maxx and Modell’s, the malls, the strip shopping centers, and of course, FORMAN MILLS in search of a warmer ski knit-type hat – without any luck. Nothing offered the combination of warmth and length The Curmudgeon now needs.

Stupid hat #2

Discouraged, The Curmudgeon started considering his options, and they weren’t pretty: there was stupid hat #1, stupid hat #2 (bank robber/terrorist version), or ordering something online, which seemed like stupid idea #3. Eventually the search ended with a visit to a sporting goods store, where The Curmudgeon found the perfect hat: dark enough to be inconspicuous, pom-pom-free, long enough to cover the back of his head, and light years warmer than anything else he had tried. In the spirit of former president George W. Bush, it was “Mission Accomplished.”

But that, alas, only took care of The Curmudgeon’s head. At the same time he was trying on hats, though, he also had been trying on gloves – but having even less success. The Curmudgeon must have five or six pairs of gloves, most of them leather, some of them fur-lined, and a few of them made of wool-like material with suede-like palms, but none of them were anywhere near warm enough for a twenty-five-minute walk in twenty-five-degree weather. Meanwhile, Mrs. Curmudgeon started telling him what he already knew but strongly resisted: “The solution to your problem is mittens, dumbass.” (The “dumbass” was implicit; Mrs. Curmudgeon is a gentle soul who says “baby” when she really means “dumbass” and only uses language like that when talking about House Speaker Paul Ryan.)

Well, The Curmudgeon was not yet ready to give up: a sixty-year-old bald man wearing mittens was ridiculous, plus, at night in the family’s under-lit neighborhood while walking the dog The Curmudgeon intermittently operates a high-power flashlight along the town’s mean (okay, actually not-so-mean) streets and you can’t be turning a flashlight on and off while wearing mittens, for goodness sake.

So at all those stores where The Curmudgeon was trying on hats he also was trying on gloves but with even less success. Oh, there were a few prospects, but there was a problem: most of the leather gloves and the fabric gloves were in the $20-$30 range, which was fine, but there were warmer ski gloves in the $60-$80 range, which was not fine because The Curmudgeon couldn’t get his head around the idea of spending more for gloves than he’d spent for his coat.

So he decided to try the web even though he knew buying gloves online probably wasn’t a very bright idea because instead of feeling the gloves for himself he was taking the word of customers who reviewed the gloves. Those reviewers seemed to be divided into two camps: those who appeared to be paid by the gloves’ manufacturers to rave about them and those who were angry at the world for reasons that had nothing to do with protecting their hands from the elements. Still, he read between the lines, ignored everything they said about fit and flexibility and color and fabric and stitching and fashion and zeroed in on one question only: are they warm? When he found a high enough warmth quotient on a pair of $25 Carhartt gloves he decided to try them because he understands Carhartt is popular among people who work outdoors and hunters and he figures that if you can frame a house in the winter or pull a trigger and kill Bambi’s mother wearing those gloves or star in Alone in the Wilderness they should certainly be warm enough to withstand the twenty-five-minute walk in twenty-five degree weather and flexible enough to flick a flashlight on and off a half-dozen times during those twenty-five minutes.

And it turns out they are, so now, when Mrs. Curmudgeon utters the word “walk” and Sable goes hog ape-shit wild and we go for a walk, The Curmudgeon knows he will be able to withstand the harsh New Jersey winter.

But that’s not why The Curmudgeon is writing this piece and it’s only taken him 1200 words to get to his real point: that he encountered something during his glove search that he never, ever would have expected, never, ever would even have contemplated, when he went online to search for gloves:

Without question, the feature in gloves that was being promoted the most and the hardest by the folks selling gloves was not how good-looking they are and not how warm they are and not how comfortable they are and not how affordable they are but…

…their effectiveness in working on touch screens.


They were advertised with descriptions like these:

TOUCHSCREEN DESIGN: The gloves thumb, index finger have containing conductive metal fibers, you can use the Smartphone with no need for taking off gloves.


TOUCHSCREEN TEXING: Full palm & five-finger touchscreen technology makes texting, operate touch screens while wearing this touch screen gloves, works on smart phones, tablet PCs etc. Non-bulky design allows for superior movement & quality materials provide resilient strength & dexterity.


Perfect touchscreen gloves for smartphone, tablet and smartwatch. Coated with touch conductive material on the thumb and index finger part, enables you to use the smartphone and touchscreen devices efficiently without having to take the gloves off. Touchscreen gloves are also handy for drivers of cars with touchscreen panels.

Glove after glove after glove after glove boasted of their effectiveness with touch screens: leather gloves, fabric gloves, ski gloves, nylon gloves, ballistic gloves, waterproof gloves, so many of them boasting of “touch screen technology,” as if that was an actual thing, and their implicit ability to enable you to swipe easily on Tinder, check out the day’s hockey scores, find the nearest hospital ER (for those who actually buy ski gloves for skiing), find the nearest bar (for those who didn’t wipe out on the slopes), check your email, check Facebook, play Candy Crush, or do whatever it is people apparently feel the need to do outdoors with their cell phones in sub-freezing weather.

The Curmudgeon? He keeps his cell phone, still the object of a love/hate relationship, deep in his pocket when it’s freezing out there. He shall continue limiting his screen-touching to the great indoors, thank you very much.


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