Monday, August 18, 2008

I Never Liked The Name Fay

The last time I prepared for a hurricane was the summer of 1996. I was working on a small ferry that carried passengers to a nearby private beach on Fire Island. By the time Hurricane Bertha reached Long Island, it had weakened to a tropical storm. Still, the morning before the worst of it was to arrive I had to take the ferry with the captain and one other deckhand to baton down the hatches beachside. Literally. There was a snack shack, a bathroom, and a utility closet, all of which were seemingly made of driftwood and a carefree dream. We had to make sure all the doors were bolted shut, and the windows covered with plywood. (Why exactly this job fell to me I’ll never know, but seeing as how it was my job to stare at girls in bikinis all day I was in no place to ask questions.)

The heavy rains and winds started on our trip back to the mainland. Being sixteen, I thought of the semi-dangerous trip as an adventure, with three-foot waves crashing against the side of the boat, shooting dirty baywater spray in my face. When we arrived at the dock, my dad was there to pick me up and take me home, just like I imagine it was for Columbus and Magellan.

At home, I walked in to find the whole family huddled together in the basement watching TV, surrounded by board games, playing cards, and candles. It was a serious scene – a family glued to the Weather Channel, gripped by the fear of mother nature’s fury. Until my mom came down the stairs carrying another tray of piña coladas. I was shocked. Not because there were teeming rains and 50mph winds knocking down tree branches outside while my mother blended tropical frozen drinks, but that my mother blended any drinks at all. She had a noted reputation for hardly ever drinking. A sip from my father’s beer here, or a glass of wine there – that was all. But apparently hurricanes were a real fete, reason enough to dig into the back of the liquor cabinet for the rum and break out the blender. I remember hoping it would escalate to a full blown hurricane so maybe we would get some appetizers, too.

Half an hour and one round later, my mom tripped up the steps, signaling an end to the fun.

My point being, that’s the way I learned to prepare for a hurricane, so that’s how I’m doing it now. At the Publix today while everyone else stocked up on bottled water and canned goods, I filled my cart with beer, salsa, and the ingredients for turkey chili.

As the woman at the cash register scanned my Pepperidge Farm cookies and fresh mozzarella, she shot me a look like You know there’s gonna be a hurricane, right? and then asked, “Do you need any batteries?”

This threw me. First of all, because I really did need batteries for my electric toothbrush. But how did she know that? I look at her confused.

“For your flashlights.”

My first impression was that it’s probably best not to engage this crazy woman going on about flashlights. But then I gradually put two and two together and was like, “Oh right! Flashlights. For all the darkness.” So I bought a pack of batteries for my “flashlights” and went on my way.

At home, I immediately started looking for my flashlights. I must have some, right? I remember it being one of those things my mom made me buy when I first moved out. I made fun of her at the time, reminding her that I was moving into an apartment in Brooklyn, not a crawl space under a house, but I guess the joke’s on me because I can’t find it anywhere. I did, however, find a pen sized flashlight in my desk. And while it may prove inadequate at lighting up the whole apartment should all the electricity fail, it should at least provide me with enough light to grill up my organic, free range chicken with tomato and fresh mozzarella paired with a nice New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.

Except it takes AAA batteries, and my electric toothbrush takes AA.

Advantage: Fay.

6 Comments:

Blogger [mother] said...

I tripped up the stairs because my shoe got caught. And, because I am a cheap date, the pina colada went right to my head.

Ah, the good old days.

August 18, 2008 at 6:17:00 PM EDT  
Blogger sleeptalker said...

At least you knew the storm was coming and chose to more or less ignore. My first FL hurricane, I was at the store buying beer, chips and salsa, and ice cream (weird combo, I know), and couldn't figure out why everyone else was fairly uptight and buying water, canned goods and the like. When I got home and turned on the TV the anchor said something like "landfall within the next few hours." Obviously, I wasn't going back to the store, so I cracked open a beer and pondered how long I'd have to eat the ice cream (and if I'd have to consume it all in one sitting -- trust me, I was prepping for that horrible fate) if the power went out.

August 19, 2008 at 12:11:00 PM EDT  
Blogger AP said...

The way I prepared for hurricanes when I was going to LSU was to buy a bunch of liquor for a hurricane party. I think you should do the same in Miami.

Baton Rouge being quite a ways inland from the gulf shore and generally being out of harms way is neither here nor there.

August 19, 2008 at 1:14:00 PM EDT  
Blogger SuperBee said...

I bought two loaves of sugar brioche from Paul on Lincoln. And devoured one of them last night.

Advantage: Me.

August 19, 2008 at 3:53:00 PM EDT  
Blogger kate said...

I remember Bertha. Sadly, I was in North Carolina at camp (because I was but a wee thing) and we ended up evacuating to a school gym somewhere inland and had a square dancing party and watched "Jumanji"...

I envy your experience.

August 21, 2008 at 12:20:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Andrea said...

That's funny, because my mother also made me bring flashlights when I moved out. I don't know why... I don't think I've used a flashlight in the past 5 years. Maybe it's a generational thing.

August 23, 2008 at 1:52:00 AM EDT  

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