Weathering a weatherperson


It is late and I am watching the 11 o'clock news, hoping to find out if it's going to rain tomorrow.

But Marv the weatherperson won't tell me if it's going to rain tomorrow.

Instead, Marv the weatherperson is talking about snowstorms out West.

And flooding in Missouri.

And "severe weather," which Marv describes as "a lotta hail, a lotta wind" in Texas and Oklahoma.

"Look at this!" Marv exults as we go to a shot of two women huddled under an umbrella in downtown Dallas.

Yep, there it is. Lotta hail, lotta wind. Just like the man said.

"You don't normally see weather like that this time of year," Marv says.

No, you sure don't.

"December, January, you see weather like that. Not now," Marv says.


"You should see what they're getting in Arkansas!" Marv says.

Yes, well, this is all terribly interesting, Marv. But here's all I want to know: Is it going to rain tomorrow?

Marv doesn't say. Instead, he suddenly flashes a huge grin and chirps: "Let's go to the satellite map!"

Please. Not the satellite map. Couldn't you just tell us if it's going to . . .?

"Right now," Marv says, "we're looking at a high-pressure system over the Canadian Rockies."

And with that, the man is off on his own astral plane, jabbering about low pressure systems and stationary fronts and air masses and precip off to the north.

He seems incredibly happy. God, I wish I could be like that!

I wish I could look at a simple weather map with all its eclectic symbols -- the bold, sweeping arrows that indicate a pressure front, the tiny yellow suns and miniature rain clouds -- and derive as much joy as this man seems to derive.

Clearly, this is a man of basic values. A man of catholic tastes. A man who doesn't need fancy cars and state-of-the-art CD players and 500-channel cable hookups to be happy.

A man who needs only to stand in the same spot in a dingy studio night after night and look at a chromatic visual aid to think: Yes, this is what it's all about!

Still, I have one question: Yo, Marv. Is it going to rain tomorrow?

"Now let's go to the radar!" Marv says.

No. Please, not the radar. Can't we just get to the fore . . .

"We're looking here at a lot of shower activity to the west," Marv says and now he is off again, entering another dimension of meteorological trivia and weather-speak that leaves me numb, and yet, at the same time, wanting to hurt someone with a fireplace poker.

Tell me: Why does it have to be this way with these TV weather people?

Why do these people need three minutes or more to tell you if it's going to rain tomorrow?

When did these weather people become "personalities"? When did they start commanding huge salaries and adopting the faux edgy/zany personas of aspiring nightclub comics?

Why can't it be like this: Midway through the news, one of the anchors announces: "Now here's Marv with the weather."

The camera moves in for a close-up of Marv seated at a desk.

Marv says: "Tonight: rain. Tomorrow: rain in the morning, clearing in the afternoon. Good night."

Boom, fade to a commercial. Ten seconds, tops, and you've heard all you need to know about the weather.

And by the time that Jeep-Eagle spot is finished, Marv is high-fiving the parking lot attendant and fishtailing down the road on his way to a date with a cold beer.

Wouldn't that be wonderful? No satellite maps, no radar, no cloud cover charts, no shots of blizzards in Colorado or frightened terriers adrift on a piece of plywood in the rain-flooded Mississippi River?

Yeah, well, don't hold your breath. The weather segment means big money to TV advertisers these days.

It is very late now. My eyes are closing. I get up and splash cold water on my face to clear my head.

Then I pinch my cheeks hard several times, the pain jolting my eyes open.

Finally, I drop to the floor and knock off 20 push-ups to get the blood flowing, which is when I hear Marv say: "Now for the forecast . . ."

What, so soon?

"Tonight, chance of showers, low of 50."

What about tomorrow, Marv?

"Tomorrow, showers continue all day, high of 65.

Thanks. Look, don't be a stranger, OK? Whew, finally! Time for bed.

"Now for tonight's weather quiz . . ."

No, please. Not the weather quiz.


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