Although most incorrectly assume heating the air creates electrostatic discharge that leads to shocking encounters with metal and other living things, the truth is that winter heralds dryer air because of a basic physics premise: As things grow warmer, their density decreases because heat causes things to expand; likewise, as things grow colder, their density increases because cold causes things to contract. To put it in a simpler light, hot air holds more humidity while cold air holds less. It is not the act of heating the air that causes static shocks; it’s nothing more complicated than the nature of cold air and, to a greater degree, air with less humidity. This is why there is a vast difference between 80% humidity at 80°F (27°C) and 80% humidity at 30°F (-1°C). The two percentages are relative to the temperature, and they represent significantly dissimilar amounts of moisture.
I said all of that to explain the winter beatings I expect each year. They come from Loki.
If you have or had pets, you know rubbing on them in dry air generates an electrostatic discharge. You probably also know that charge usually hits both of you while you’re petting the animal. The moment your hand comes close enough to a part of their body capable of grounding the charge, electricity shocks both of you.
Well, Loki hates that. In fact, he vehemently dislikes it to the point of violence.
When I’m petting him and the air is dry enough, I often shock his nose or ears (whichever comes into contact with my hand first). He tolerates this abuse one time. If he’s feeling generous, he’ll accept it twice. After that, it gets ugly.
You see, Loki abhors being shocked and sees it as cruelty, so he answers it with his own cruelty. In most cases, he immediately backs away and strikes me, taking swings with claws extended, ears laid back, and eyes narrowed to hunter’s slits. And his response is commensurate with the shock. For minor infractions, he gives a few swings and waits. For those shocks powerful enough to be seen, he attacks with a primitive vigilance witnessed only in hunting prides of starving lions.
These encounters are usually brief. After he inflicts harm and leaves a few racing stripes, he goes on about his business and avoids contact for a while. I’m thankful for that as I’m not a glutton for punishment. On the other hand, there are times when he takes such great offense that I have to back away because he has no interest in stopping until he’s made his point clear. Seeing my own blood usually does the trick.
So, as the weather gets colder and the air gets dryer, I prepare for my winter beatings.