Dorothy Rosby
contributing columnist
I was feeling pretty confident about cooking Thanksgiving dinner for eight guests until I saw the headline: Dorothy Could Make a Mess of Thanksgiving. Well dang. I’ve made a mess of Thanksgiving on several occasions, but it’s never been national news before.
I was relieved to see the story was about a different Dorothy—as relieved as you can be to learn a winter storm is bearing down on you. The irony is, the name Dorothy means gift of God. I’m not making that up. Its reverse, Theodore, means the same thing. Still men named Theodore had the dubious honor of having a hurricane named for them a few years back.
A rose by any other name could still “fowl” up turkey day. But I think the World Meteorological Organization which names hurricanes and the Weather Channel which names snowstorms ought to invest in some good baby naming books. If they had, they’d know that a far more apt name for Winter Storm Dorothy would have been Lilith which means “storm goddess,” “night monster,” and “female demon.” Yet, near as I can tell there has never been a winter storm or a hurricane named Lilith.
At the very least, they could have named our recent storm Wanda. In German, Wanda means “wanderer,” which is what you do if you get lost in a snowstorm. And in Swahili, it means “will get fat,” which is what you do if you’re snowed in with reliable power and ample baking supplies. (My apologies to all Liliths and Wandas. But I just report it; I don’t make it up—usually.)
In the end, Winter Storm Dorothy was more storm goddess than gift of God. She did make a mess of Thanksgiving for a lot of people. Maybe I did too, but it wouldn’t be common knowledge if it weren’t for the Weather Channel.
I should be used to it. My whole life, my name has been associated with bad weather, a tornado to be exact, and a little dog too.
You know how when you’re introduced to someone named Rudolf, you’re tempted to say, “You do have a very shiny nose.” Or when you meet someone named McDonald, you’re overcome with the urge to say “Ee-I-ee-I-o” or “Would you like fries with that?”
You’re not? Well I am and I know I’m not alone. I’ve heard “We’re not in Kansas anymore” and “I’m going to get you and your little dog too!” so many times I nearly broke into a chorus of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” just now writing about it. I don’t really mind. That other Dorothy seems to help people remember my name, and it beats going through life as old What’s-Her-Name.
Anyway, even Winter Storm Dorothy wasn’t immune. At least one story about her had the very clever lead sentence: “It’s not only in Kansas Toto.” And it wasn’t.
I’m afraid now people everywhere will think of me in conjunction with that Thanksgiving they were stuck in the airport or, worse, a twenty-two pound turkey and no one around to eat it. Thanks a lot Weather Channel.
Maybe it’s not so bad. If Dorothy is going to be associated with bad weather, a winter storm beats a tornado in that the house is still standing afterward.
(Dorothy Rosby is the author of several humor books including Alexa’s a Spy and Other Things to Worry About, Humorous Essays on the Hazards of Our Time available in early 2020. Contact