From the Star Tribune Outdoors:
I recently was driving through town when a flash of white caught my eye. The temperature was well below freezing, but this was not freshly fallen snow or the glare off a patch of ice. It was the pasty skin of some European-descended legs.
Yes, it was a person wearing shorts.
You’ve seen them. You’ve marveled. You’ve shaken your head. But have you wondered what goes through theirs?
Let’s state the obvious: Winter is cold. Clothes keep us warm. Yet every year a stubborn subset of people across Minnesota venture outdoors in their summer finest. If pressed, they’ll say it’s not that cold.
It is that cold. As the Norwegians say, there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes. Shorts in winter are bad clothes. Why are these people so resistant to the laws of thermodynamics? To the weather? To the world?
A few years ago, I wrote a book about culture-bound syndromes, or mental illnesses that occur in some cultures but not others. One that comes up in the literature was called “pibloktoq,” also known as “arctic madness” or “polar hysteria.” It was reported by a handful of Western explorers and anthropologists who spent time among the Inuits in the far north. “During the attack,” reads the description in psychiatry’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual-IV, “the individual may tear off his or her clothing.”
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