James Lileks
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“Hey, new guy, have you heard about the Halloween Blizzard?”

New guy: “Uh, yeah, In fact, it came up 10 times last week.”

Us: “Because it was really something! Let me tell you, I was there, and we’d never seen anything like it. We get a lot of snow here, as you’ll find out — man, are you in for some misery. Keeps out the riffraff, though. Anyway, it started out like any other Halloween. ... ”

New guy checks watch.

Us: “What time did it start snowing? I’ll get to that! Anyway, it began really nice, around 65 degrees or so at noon. No one had any inkling what was about to happen, so no one went to the store to get bread and milk and toilet paper. I like to joke that we do that because when it snows we make French toast and have dysentery. Hah! So around 5 p.m. ... ”

New guy: “It started to snow, right, and it kept snowing. Must have been something! Well, I have to get back to work, got a report due.”

Us: “So the first wave of kids starts. You know how it goes: There’s a knock on the door, the dog goes nuts and then you open the door and pretend you’re scared.”

New guy: “And then the snow came down really hard, and it was a record. Great story! E-mail some pictures when you get a chance.”

Us: “Not yet. But, when I opened the door, I noticed it was about 45 degrees colder than it had been at noon, and I noticed the sky had taken on this strange color.”

New guy: “Fuchsia? Puce? Burnt umber?”

Us: “No, gray. An unusual gray, like the kind you see before a tornado. Green, in other words. Gray-green. I didn’t think anything of it at the time, which is why I remember it so keenly now, and I shut the door. A few minutes go by. Ding-dong!”

New guy: “I thought your door knocked.”

Us: “I’m using the terms interchangeably. I opened the door, and there were more kids, dressed up as, I think, Paul Bunyan, Goldy Gopher, the Hamm’s Bear — you know, real Minnesota stuff. And I noticed it had started to snow.”

New guy (resigned): “Ah, the plot twist.”

Us: “Yes! It had never snowed on Halloween. Drizzle, yes. Mist, sure. Fog, if you were lucky. Rain, sometimes. Sleet? Rare. Hail? Once, I think.”

New guy: “Ever get a rain of frogs, as in the Bible?”

Us: “Probably, but nothing you have to plow. Anyway, it wasn’t snowing much, yet, but as the evening went on, the snow really started coming down. We’re talking big flakes, too, the size of those to-go cup plastic lids.”

New guy: “And then it snowed more and it was historic! Thanks for the local lore. I feel more like I belong here now.”

Us (totally unable to perceive any social cues outside of a punch in the nose): “No, it snowed more than just more. It snowed like all the snow there was to snow. And it came so fast that the kids were buried on the sidewalk, right then and there, and you’d see guys running out of the house with shovels to dig out the kids from drifts. Then the wind came up. ... ”

New guy: “Snow is down, wind is up, right? Just trying to get a picture of it here.”

Us: “More like sideways, I guess. The wind would catch the kids’ trick-or-treat bags like a sail and carry them off. Only time I actually saw a witch fly. By 9 p.m., over 16 feet had fallen, and it kept coming. By midnight there was 4 yards, a world record, and by 2 a.m. the snow was pretty much up to the roof. Yes. We still talk about it in these parts.”

New guy: “You don’t say.”

Us: “I just did say, but I’ll say it again if you’re unclear on any details. It’s important to know the details. Talking about the Halloween Storm is one of our most cherished traditions at our Halloween parties.”

New guy: “You’re having a Halloween party? Can I come?”

Us: “Well, it’s just some friends. We go back a long way. Lots of private jokes. You might feel like an outsider because you’re so new here.”

New guy: “I moved here nine years ago.”

Us: “Like I said, ‘Hey, new guy!’ ”

james.lileks@startribune.com • 612-673-7858 • Twitter: @Lileks • facebook.com/james.lileks