1. Doing donuts in the empty Meijer parking lot is considered driver’s ed.
If your 16th birthday falls sometime between October and May, learning how to control your car while spinning out on snow and black ice is required training before taking your driver’s license test. We’ve all got our memories of nearly crashing into the light pole as Dad is screaming “Straighten it out!” from the passenger seat of your GM-made hand-me-down.
2. Forget a sports car — owning a snow blower is the way to make your neighbors jealous.
Nothing pisses you off more than when you are exhausted and on your fifth hour of clearing snow with that cheap-ass Family Fare shovel and you hear the familiar roar of a snow blower down the street. But if you can borrow it from them, then go buy some pasties, rock those Carhartts, and ask nicely. Us Michiganders will do whatever they have to do in order to have a snow blower at hand. Maybe even purposely lose a game of euchre. Maybe.
3. Coats are unnecessary accessories for frosty Friday nights.
Ever see a flock of girls in high heels and super short, sleeveless dresses expertly scurrying down Grand River Avenue in East Lansing in below-freezing temperatures and high winds…with no coat? Don’t fret, they’ve been training for this feat of strength since freshman year at State. Meanwhile, us U of M women rock our puffy, Patagonia bivouac down jackets and somewhat haughtily sip our Jolly Pumpkin craft brews, not caring at all that we were only rated fourth hottest in the Big 10.
4. A partially defrosted hole in the windshield no bigger than a quarter constitutes clear vision.
Full visibility through windows, windshields, and mirrors is completely overrated. Although driving down I-94 with this technique might be unsafe for the newbie, any Michigan native can effectively execute this tactic in their trusty GM truck and gain at least ten minutes of extra sleep before their morning commute. And you think we ice climb Miners Falls for fun? Nah, we use our refined pickaxe skills just to be able to get into our car — all four doors are usually completely frozen shut with ice in the morning.
5. We ski ice hills.
It is much easier to endure the harsh winter weather when you can slowly slink up the chairlift and speed through 10 inches of fresh powder every weekend. However, the only mountains you see in Michigan appear in your unconscious mind after the inevitable concussion that comes from begrudgingly coasting down ice at the barely vertical Boyne or Crystal Mountains.
6. If shoveling was an Olympic sport, we’d have more medals than Phelps.
Whereas some people might cringe at the sight of four feet of heavy, wet snow covering their driveway and blocking first-floor windows, for us Michiganders this just means we won’t have to hit the gym today. Just grab your yooper scooper, a Beaner’s Biggby Teddy Bear Latte, and get crackin’.
7. We make Long underwear sexy.
It usually takes until the Lions get knocked out of playoff contention to fully let the memories of your Up North bikini-clad cottage crush fade away, but when they do, you begin to appreciate the way your partner’s full-body ninja getup hugs in all the right places (including the cold weather-induced Hungry Howie’s love handles).
8. Our tailbones have a tough build-up of scar tissue.
If you haven’t slipped on ice and fallen smack-dab on your tailbone, you aren’t from Michigan. Us Michiganders have built up scar tissue thick enough to protect our bums from any unexpected loss of footing (and those six layers of pants also function quite well as ass protection). Or maybe I’m wrong on this fact and it’s just time I invested in a new pair of Wolverine boots…
9. Our cold takes cold to new levels. Wind chill. Enough said.
Wind chill, if you aren’t aware, is basically a meteorologist’s way of saying that when it’s really cold, it feels even fucking colder. You think -20°F is bad? It gets worse when your body perceives it as -35°F. Accepting the cruel wrath of wind chill is essential to maintaining your thick Michigander skin, especially if you’re from the U.P., eh.
10. Only one set of tires is required for the entire year.
There is none of this “summer tires” and “winter tires” nonsense in the Mitten. We save money and storage space by only owning one set of decent snow tires. And, hey, we’re always prepared for that freak September snowstorm.
11. Hell must freeze over before a Snow Day is called.
While all of Austin shuts down in panic as an inch of snow softly blankets the city, Michigan school districts have a much higher tolerance for the white stuff. Six feet of new snow fell overnight? (Thanks, lake effect…) Deal with it. Michigan kids get their asses to school even if icicles are forming on their nose hairs while they wait for the school bus. Hey Mike Flanagan, I think some policy reform is needed here.
12. Fleece-lined jeans are our best-kept secret.
Yes, there is such a thing as fleece-lined jeans. And, yes, they are as epic as they sound. Secret revealed! If you plan to visit the Great Lake State any time after mid-October, find them (we, of course, prefer the Dearborn-based Carhartt brand), buy them, and wear that knowing look on your face when some other tourist can’t believe you’re just wearing jeans to tour the 150 ice-encrusted lighthouses through three feet of snow.
13. Jumping in Lake Michigan while it’s still partially frozen is a rite of passage.
Yeah, yeah, we know you’ve all done the “polar bear dive” at summer camp, but nothing compares to stripping down to your swimsuit and running straight into Lake Michigan (or Lake Superior if you’re really daring) in the middle of winter. Some may call it crazy, we call it living!
14. Walking under 3-ft. long icicles doesn’t even phase us.
Living in the Mitten means putting your life at risk every single time you walk under your front porch roof in wintertime. At any given moment, wherever you are outside, a deathly spear of ice could come sailing down and pierce your skull. You might end up like the 48-year-old Michigan pastor whose official cause of death was “bilateral pulmonary thromboemboli due to crushed lower extremity due to falling ice.”
15. It takes more than a complete whiteout to inhibit travel plans.
When the snowflakes seem to all merge into one giant blanket of white, to us peninsula dwellers it simply means drive close to the rumble strip and decrease your speed slightly below the 70-mph speed limit on I-96. If you even try to pull over and wait it out, you will end up sliding off the unplowed exit ramp and spending the night freezing in a ditch.
16. Maneuvering through potholes is fun and games.
You can tell right away that someone is not from the Wolverine State if a horrifying gasp slips out of their mouth as they dip into what feels like a ditch. But not us Michiganders, we can swerve and curve like Dale Ernhart, Jr. around any blacktop crater that rears its head on the black, ice-covered streets. It’s almost as good as MarioKart, although Governor Synder’s recent pledge to raise $1 billion and make fixing state roads his number-one priority might ruin all the fun.
17. We actually get of bed in the morning. End of story.
Between the poorly insulated single-pane windows and your tightwad roommate’s permanent stance on keeping the thermostat no higher than 60°F to stick it to DTE, it takes true Michigander willpower just to be able to dislodge yourself from your comforter cocoon out onto the freezing bathroom tiles each morning. But not even the “polar vortex” can make us pack up and move to California. We are that hardcore.