The French Toast Equation by Madama Sebastian
As my American family and friends prepare for a sizable February snowstorm this weekend, I sit in balmy India feeling a disquieting longing to be in a Pennsylvania food store elbowing some cell-phone engaged, slow-on-the-draw type out of the way to snap up the last loaf of bread on the shelf.
I hail from Harrisburg--a tribe of four season people who know how to hunker down and hoard in the face of a coming natural event. For the uninitiated, when dairy products are elevated to the status of lifeblood by a forecast of 60% or more snow probability, there erupts an inborn Harrisburg-er-ian-ites fierceness that would make the Super Bowl look like just...a game.
Scientists have puzzled for minutes over this twisted Central PA variation of flight or fight. In fact, authorities have coined a phrase for it--The French Toast Equation, first discovered by the eminent psycho-linguist and recluse, Dr.GreatScott. Unfamiliar? No surprise. Most people from not here have never heard of it. The formula is complicated, a 3-blackboard long affair both wide in depth and deep in width. It's got a lot of numbers and letters in it. In the most primitive dumb-down, The French Toast Equation is the direct relationship between milk, bread, and eggs and the number of inches of snowfall in any given 24 hour period in Central PA.
Dr. GreatScott and his brother Notso fielded a tremendous number of scientific arguments about the parameters of The French Toast Equation: Did it matter if the milk was fat free? Could the bread include the word "Stroehman's" somewhere on the label? Would double yolk eggs count twice? The most debated questions: How many dairy products per capita are enough to sustain life in a 7-to-12 inch blizzard? Could the snow fall tally only qualify if it fell above the PA Turnpike? And, the oft-queried "IS vanilla really optional?"
Had you had your scientific radar turned up and tuned in this week, you might have found symptoms, immediately noticeable just after a foreshadowing by the dentally challenged but media-respected Punxatawny Phil. In Harrisburg, the hoity and toity locked down prime real estate within a 2 mile radius of every Wegmans. Normally ignored, arthritic elders suddenly spewed forth cautionary tales of weather-related joint pain. De-icing windshield wiper fluid shot to 10 bucks a gallon and domesticated animals lurked sneakily near exits.
Then, it came. SIGNIFICANT snow accumulations...possible. The whispers began. "Have you pre-salted?"
Whatever nature does in the course of human events in Central PA this weekend, Harrisburg-er-ian-ites are ready. Even if it doesn't come. Especially if it doesn't come.
(with special thanks to Dr. GreatScott formerly known as S. Matthews)