My friends who live in Las Vegas told me it was snowing there a few weeks ago. Snow in Las Vegas! Hell had literally frozen over. Do you realize how many things had to happen now? I was going to have to pay my BYU parking tickets, eat at Arby’s and set foot in Florida again.
The snow was newsworthy because it was unusual, but I find even ordinary weather interesting. I like discussing the weather, and I think we should all do it more often. It’s a courteous subject, one that can be broached even in the most mixed of company. People used to talk about it all the time, back when more people were farmers and when even non-farmers were at the mercy of the elements due to there being no air conditioning or central heating. Back then, a heat wave or a cold snap affected you. Nowadays, it’s something to complain about, sure, but it doesn’t cause you hardship for any longer than it takes you to scurry from one climate-controlled area to another.
So gone are the days that inspired the witticism, “Everyone talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.” Today, no one even talks about it, and we actually have the technology to do something about it, as explored in the futuristic cautionary tale, Superman III.
This is too bad. (The lack of weather conversation, I mean, not Superman III. Although Superman III is too bad, too.) The weather is the one subject everyone has feelings about, the one subject everyone actually could discuss. You might not care about religion, politics, art, film or books. But you care about how hot it is outside, or how much precipitation there is, or how beautiful the blue sky is, or how the breeze coming off the lake is just this side of rancid. If religion and politics are the two topics not to discuss in polite company, the weather is their opposite.
If you say, “I sure hate this humidity,” you don’t have to worry that a hard-line humidity proponent is going to accost you with pro-humidity rhetoric and accuse you of being ignorant for not seeing it his way. This is very different from religion and politics, where if you express an opinion, people will get all up in your grill and try to change your mind.
Think of all the pleasant conversations that could be had among strangers, at bus stops and in grocery-store lines, if we would all just talk about the weather. Sure, the citywide book club aims at giving everyone a conversation starter—but that requires reading. Discussing the weather just requires going outside. Or heck, even just looking outside.
And so I enjoy talking about the weather. I like saying to people, “Nice day, isn’t it?” or “Think the rain will let up?” Apart from making me feel like a character in a Mark Twain novel, it’s a chance to notice the world around me, to remember that we have nature even when tall buildings and loud traffic have infiltrated it. I feel remiss when it’s 6 p.m. and someone says, “Nice day, isn’t it?” and I realize I hadn’t even noticed. To let a nice day blow past you without paying attention to it—well, that’s just ungrateful. If I were in charge of the days, I wouldn’t go on making nice ones if no one ever noticed them.