I’m a Kansas girl. I say y’all, have an affinity for overalls on tiny children (not grown men without shirts) and when it’s tornado season, I get fluttery nervous butterflies in my tummy because I respect the twister. And I don’t mean the 1996 blockbuster movie with Helen Hunt and Chet from Weird Science. Though, come on, that movie was AWESOME!
Today I’m sitting here on the eve of our first major “spring weather event” and even though I’ve already carved out a space in our basement storm shelter, a.k.a picture, garage sale, camping gear storage room, and I’m watching Weather Channel radar so intently you’d think the storms are promising to drop Little Debbie snack cakes from the clouds, I’m vowing to remain calm. I’m the calm one.
Over the past fourteen-plus years, my husband and I have learned to compensate for each other’s, shall we say, weaknesses. He hates spiders, I pee my pants at the sight of wasps. He can MacGyver the hell out of anything using a Band-aid and a crazy straw and I cook meals containing several courses and get them all done at the same time. A task that apparently, boggles his mind. My husband is the guy you want to have around after the situation is contained. He’s caring, compassionate, and ready to strap on his tool belt to get the job done. What job? Just go with me here, whatever job needs to be done when the situation is contained.
Unfortunately, the love of my life is not so great during the “actual” emergency. “Oh, Dani, how can you say that? Won’t he be upset when he reads this?” NOPE. He knows.
Case in point. The Storm of 1998.
In the spring of 1998, I was attending night classes at Newman University. Bad weather had been predicted for that evening but my professor was not a fan of absenteeism and “I don’t want to get my little Honda Accord hailed on” seemed a poor excuse, so I went.
At 10 PM when I started for home I noticed the wind picking up, the rain coming down in sheets and when I cruised down our tree-lined lane, small branches were beginning to hurl themselves at my windshield. The weather was disconcerting but it paled in comparison to the scene that awaited me at home.
Walking through the door of our cozy 1920’s bungalow I was relieved the electricity was still on but knew it could go out at any moment because Dan Dillon from KFDI told me so. If you’re from ’round these parts, you KNOW Dan Dillon is the man you want on your radio in a weather SITUATION.
Like a dutiful Kansas girl I headed straight to the basement and smack-dab into an episode of Hoarders. My then-fiancee Doug was drenched in sweat, hair sticking out in all directions ala Kramer from Seinfeld, and he was very tipsy. Actually, I’m pretty sure he was drunk. He was sitting on a workbench looking at a pile of boxes with household items he’d quickly amassed as the storm barreled down on the city. He was listening to Dan Dillon too. Dan provided vital information about the storm. Dan calmed me. For Doug, Dan seemed to have the opposite effect. Dan was fueling Doug’s need to, “emergency hoard.”
As I took stock of the situation I quickly determined a gentle response would be required. My brain was shrieking, “What the hell are you doing down here, Crazy Pants,” but instead I squeaked out a quiet, “Hey, babe, whatcha got goin’ here?”
Unfazed by my somewhat, “It’s okay, buddy, we’re gonna find a quiet padded room for you,” tone, he jumped off the bench, bear-hugged me, told me he was glad I was safe and then replied, “It’s gettin’ pretty bad out there so I decided to bring down some necessities.”
Me: But it’s just rain and thunder.
Doug: Yeah. NOW. But you never know.
In case you’re curious about what should go on an “Emergency Hoarding Necessity” list, here’s what I saw peeking out of the boxes.
1 – Enough Charmin to make clothes for a small village. But who would, ’cause that’s totally impractical in the rain, right?
2 – Booze – I’m talkin’ ALL the booze. We were in our late twenties with no children. Oh, we had some booze.
3 – Photo albums – A good call, actually. I was pretty impressed.
4 – Underwear – The only type of clothing he’d grabbed for the emergency-hoard. God bless him. The clothes on his back may have been funky after the weather-pocalypse but his under-things would be fresh.
5 – BMX racing trophies – *shrugs* I got nothin. Maybe he wanted to barter with them. “I’ll trade you two 1st place national championship trophies for that hunk of cheese, my good man.” After the weather-pocalypse we’re all going to be British, apparently.
6 – Guns – A hand gun. A shot gun. Two BB guns. All. The. Guns.
The whole thing reminded me of the famous scene in The Jerk when Steve Martin, rejected by his girlfriend, shuffles out of the house saying, “I don’t need any of this. I don’t need this stuff. . . just this remote control, and this ashtray, and this paddle game. . .”