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Hurricane Season

It’s almost hurricane season, which has become a national pastime.  I grew up in Ohio, which could occasionally gin up a nice tornado or two, perhaps a blizzard if you’re lucky, but--it’s Ohio.  “Extreme” for us is a day without margarine.

But when I lived  in Orlando, today’s Weather Channel five-day forecast routinely looked like this:
THURSDAY: Mostly sunny, chance of afternoon showers
FRIDAY: Early morning fog
SATURDAY: Huge catastrophic world-ending hurricane
SUNDAY: Partly cloudy

We were often in the final full-blown stage of a hurricane phenomenon known as “Screw You, As Opposed To Me.” This manifested when people in one part of the state rooted for a hurricane to slam into another part of the state, or better yet, another state entirely.

         The Weather Channel assisted with gigantic Atari graphics explaining storm surge, which consisted of a huge wall of blue completely obliterating rows and rows of Monopoly-sized houses. I always felt a lot better after seeing that, almost as good as when the NBC affiliates sent a Roving Idiot to cover the pending carnage in Cape Canaveral, which was tastefully intercut with Hurricane Floyd footage of the Daytona Beach Pier crinkling up like Tinker Toys.

        One time CBS trotted out a therapist to answer viewer questions such as: “I can’t sleep and I’m very anxious. What can I do?” And the therapist said that we should all take sleeping pills and then focus on something besides the storm, such as, and I quote, “cleaning closets.”

The ER doctor she was sitting with added, “You know, I almost hate to say this, but you may want to try a shot of alcohol too.” So if the mainstream media had its way, I’d pass each hurricane warning re-hanging all my stirrup pants while two-fisting Schnapp’s and Unisol. I’ve had worse Saturday nights.

Affiliates were on the air around the clock.  Once the first-string, prime time meteorologists dropped, the second-teamers and weekend anchors were brought in, followed by the Weather Substitutes consisting of the drooling and the underage, followed by tourists bused in from the “Listen To the Land” exhibit at EPCOT.

Once the storm passed, I had definite questions about the manner in which this particular Act of God was conducted. I was under the impression that if a hurricane decides to flatten an area, it will stay flattened.

What truly was  “We do not have any refrigerated items. NO ICE. No cash back. No debit available. We hope to have more deliveries. No time yet.”
      This handlettered sign has stood outside my grocery since landfall. This, then, is a state of natural emergency: A total reversion to cash transactions. It’s anarchy.

      My local supermarket has served as my Surreality Barometer.  Go ahead:  Test your sense of well-being against walking into a grocery store and not finding any groceries. People were driving as far as two hours away in a vain attempt to find ice. The aisles are almost completely trashed. Ore-Ida Steak Fries, gone! Spam, gone! The entire supply of Sociables, gone!
    And yet I returned to the grocery, day after day, wandering around the beer section on the expectation that the Frozen Foods Fairy had come along and magically replenished the Lean Cuisine supply. You know how you open your refrigerator, find nothing edible, then return five minutes later expecting to find the situation somewhat changed? I was doing the refrigerator thing on a scale of 60,000 square feet.

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