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MEMO OF CLARIFICATION TO MY OLDER BROTHER, “BUILDER OF IGLOOS”

First of all, you are not an Eskimo, despite the convincing claim you made to this effect from behind a scarf in the winter of 1979. Eskimos are in fact indigenous to a region known as Alaska in the Northwestern quadrant of North America, not a small suburb of Madison, Wisconsin (though it is true that, occasionally, snow accumulation was comparable.) Furthermore, “eskimo” is not a status to which you can spontaneously convert.

For your information, the official method of constructing an igloo utilizes basic rules of masonry and involves balancing tightly-packed rectangles of snow in a circle, each layer slightly inside the other to gradually sculpt the dome. It does not include shoveling snow onto a red wagon from excavation sites all over the driveway and lawn then dumping these loads onto a stationary pile until it is of adequate height in your estimation. It also does not involve digging snow out from inside this large mound with frostbitten hands (despite mittens) until there is a human-sized cavity within. However, you are to be commended on the dumb luck success of this haphazard engineering.

Let it be known that forcing a person of smaller stature, limited resources, and (let’s face it) inferior intellect to transport snow in the manner detailed above, out in the cold for more than eight hours at a stretch with very few hot chocolate breaks, is an infraction of numerous OSHA regulations and, in some jurisdictions, could even be considered slave labor. On a similar legal note, records indicate that you failed to apply for the requisite building permits and fines may very well be administered retroactively.

Moreover, encouraging your “assistant” to crawl inside this highly unstable structure and wave with you from the igloo’s “front door” so that our mother could take a Polaroid picture not only subjected me to extreme danger, but also put our mother at unreasonable risk of losing both her children to a tragic and needless roof collapse.

Finally, it is of some small consolation that the combination of Global Warming (ergo, less frozen precipitation), my own dignity, and the busy nature of our respective careers will heretofore prevent you from subjecting me to your ambitious and, okay, in retrospect, I guess somewhat entertaining Eskimo aspirations.