Remember Hurricane Irene? You know -- that storm that hit a couple of natural disasters ago? Well, here in our neck of New Jersey, we weathered it just fine, thank you very much. Those news-people act like a little rain and wind is some kind of Weather Event -- but seriously! No big deal. I mean, yeah, we're out a couple grand due to the basement flooding. But we're up one Valium prescription and God knows how many mold spores! I think even Charlie Sheen would agree that we are WINNING!
Of course, not everyone escaped Irene unscathed. But then again, not everyone was ready for Irene the way we were. And not to brag (much), but we were hell-of ready.
I know, you're dying for our gameplan. I'm besieged with requests for advice. They may not be actual, verbalized requests. But still: I sense your curiosity through the telepathic cable-ways of the Great Interweb, much in the same way a shaman senses an aura, or that creepy midget chick from Poltergeist sensed the presence of some really foul-tempered Indians.
As such, I give you a detailed checklist for hurricane preparedness. No thanks necessary, although cash donations are always welcome.
4 Days Prior to Storm: Call elderly mother, who will fly from California to your home in New Jersey the next evening. Watch Project Runway repeat while you half-listen to her natterings, catching words like "flashlight batteries", "storm windows" and "Al Roker".
Ask her who the hell this "Irene" person is.
2 Days Prior to Storm: Swing by grocery store for some more of those mini Dove bars. Marvel at lines of people hoarding water, packaged donuts, and all manner of lunch meats, a la that movie about nuclear holocaust you were forced to watch in grade school. Mentally predict mass uptick in post-apocalyptic cholesterol. Get Dove bars and go on your merry way.
1 Day Prior to Storm: Chat with neighbor about what unusual weather you're having! Experience twinge of nerves when she says she drove eight hours to a Home Depot in the Pennsylvania hinterlands to purchase the Last Generator on the Eastern Seaboard. At the words "duct tape", proceed to full-on panic/flop sweat. Rush back home to locate flashlights, candles and cell-phone charger. Succeed in locating a penlight, the stumps of ten birthday candles, and last remaining Paxil tablet.
Day of Storm: Pace before windows. Make prescient, Cassandra-like comments, such as Those clouds don't look good, or Storm's a-comin'. Cluck as wind sways tree branches, raining down hundreds of twigs (Who's gonna clean that up? Not me!). Survive remaining daylight hours courtesy of Paxil tablet, chased down with half-bottle of Two-Buck Chuck.
Evening of Storm: Grow anxious about pounding rain and shrieking wind. Attempt to quell anxiety by watching some god-awful rom-com wherein Kate Hudson acts all slutty. Agree with eldery mother that, while Ginnifer Godwin is adorable, "Kate Hudson is a bitch".
11:30pm: Gasp as power goes out, as this means 1) sump pump will fail, and 2) you may never see that whore Kate Hudson get her come-uppance. When power returns, rush to basement to find sump pump in working order and dry floor. Marvel at your luck. Laugh at Gaia. Give God the L-is-for-Loser sign. Go to sleep, courtesy of remaining half-bottle of Two-Buck Chuck.
12:30am: Awake to husband muttering about a little flooding. Run downstairs to find basement submerged in three inches of murky puddle-water. Scream like Medea. Determine that water is managing to circulate back in through windows and walls. Accompany husband outside, in rain, in skivvies. Together, jerry-rig spare vacuum hoses to extend sump pump drain further from house. Briefly, revel in MacGyver-esque glory.
12:45am: Wake up elderly mother and enlist her in lifting remaining basement valuables onto ping-pong table. Slosh barefoot through ankle-deep filth as elderly mother hoists her pajama bottoms up like a worker on a Vietnamese rice paddy. When she worriedly points to numerous electrical cords dangling from ceiling, bark: "Shut up and keep moving, woman."
1:00am: Answer phone call from Russian father-in-law in Brooklyn. Listen in sympathy as he describes, in thick Russian accent, the flood damage to his New Jersey rental property. Listen in disbelief when he announces he is driving down to survey carnage. Try to dissuade him with compelling, tightly-reasoned arguments, such as Hey! Shit happens! What're you gonna do?
1:15am: Roll eyes when husband informs you he is driving to aforementioned property to meet father-in-law. Mention unlikelihood of getting there, as roads will be flooded. Mention futility of getting there, as property cannot be saved. Roll eyes yet again when husband responds Hey! It's Pops! What're you gonna do? Snottily, toss him car keys and go back to bed.
3:30am: Dream of phone ringing and ringing and ringing . . .
3:35am: Wake up and answer goddam phone. Lie in stunned silence as husband states his car is stalled in water and you need to come rescue him. Stare at receiver when his cell phone cuts out. Wait three seconds, then let loose with string of searing profanities that rouses not only elderly mother, but twin children to boot. Don pair of dirty sweats and flip-flops, then hit the road.
3:50am: Drive at snail's pace over fallen tree limbs and debris. Pass downed telephone poles and mangled lawn furniture. Change routes twice due to roads closed by flooding or fallen trees. Shiver as wind kicks up. Remind yourself of marriage vows, of promises to support and aid spouse through thick and thin. Remember, tearfully, all instances he was there for you, providing succor.
3:51:09am: Glance down at fuel gauge and see that husband has left you with empty tank.
3:51:10am: Curse that stupid shit-ass motherfucker and the day you married him.
3:52:am: Cry. Glance at fuel gauge again and determine that the red line is JUST BELOW the E, not even ON it. Cry harder.
3:55am: Talk to Jesus. Tell him it's been awhile, but He's always on your mind. Tell him if He gets you through this, you will serve him. Faithfully and for eternity.
3:56am: Drop your jaw in amazement as scores of frogs begin hopping into the road. Little itty-bitty ones! Big fat juicy ones! Dozens and dozens of them, leaping before your headlights! Asserting their rightful place as Masters of Creation! Convince yourself this is either 1) a flashback to that movie Magnolia or 2) the End of Days.
3:57am: Talk to Jesus again. Tell him if He gets you through this, the whole family will serve him. Even the ones who are Jewish.
4:00am: Arrive to find husband's car in a ditch alongside father-in-law's, which has a flat. Exhort husband and father-in-law to get in the damn car. Tell them: "Congratulations, assholes! You're both Jews for Jesus now!" Watch father-in-law shake head and mumble, What the Hell? Which, with his accent, comes out Vat da Hill?
4:05am: Drive home as father-in-law becomes increasingly worried his grandchildren have been promised over to Christ. Listen as his Vat da Hill?s grow louder and more frequent.
4:10am: Arrive home. Stumble into bed, but not before reminding father-in-law he WILL be working the Methodist soup kitchen come Thanksgiving, because Jesus says so. More Vat da Hill?s.
9:00am: Stand in driveway bleary-eyed as tow-truck pulls husband's and father-in-law's cars in. Jokingly ask the tow-truck guy if he was "busy" the night before. Keep quiet when he responds, "Yeah . . . and all because of stupid people making poor decisions." Just nod and sigh as if you are in no way, shape or form one of those people.