Remember when “Today is the first day of hurricane season” was just a piece of information, something to know about life in a Southern coastal state or something to use as a conversation starter if you’re the kind of person who runs out of good gossip?
This would be the exchange:
Person 1: “Do you know what today is?”
Person 2: “Your birthday?”
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Person 1: “It’s the first day of hurricane season.”
Person 2: “Oh.”
Person 1: “We should buy water and put it in our garages or something, right?”
Person 2: “OK. I’ll add that to the list of things I meant to do. Thanks.”
And that would be it.
There would be this vague sense of “Yeah, yeah. It’s hurricane season. I understand what that means,” but everything was truly hypothetical and unlikely and strictly driven by personality rather than practicality.
Because, let’s face it, you are either the kind of person who plans for the future, or you’re the kind of person who takes life as it comes and hopes for the best.
You’re either the person who measured and cut wood for all your windows and doors a long time ago, or you’re the person who wishes she were more like the first person, but just in that moment, because the actual act of cutting wood doesn’t sound fun.
Most of us, judging by the sizes of our televisions and indents on our couches, are in that latter category.
But then Matthew came to town last fall. After years of “phew,” it finally happened. We were hit by a hurricane, and now everything is different.
Or is it Tammy? Tammy! Grrr. Tammy! I see you, Tammy. Don’t you do it, girl.
I don’t know where your “Hurricane Matthew: Lost Innocence” head is, but here’s a rundown of where mine is as we go into this next season:
▪ When I saw the 2017 list of storm names, I immediately began testing them in my head. Will Harvey be this year’s menace? Will it be Philippe? Is he the kind of guy who would come into town and be like “I see what you’ve done with the place since Matthew. How industrious! How fun for me!” Or is it Tammy? Tammy! Grrr. Tammy! I see you, Tammy. Don’t you do it, girl.
▪ As soon as Kris Allred at WSAV says “cone of uncertainty” and points to our general vicinity, I’ll be at Publix buying water. I don’t care if we’re only in the cone for a single second, this year I’m going to go right to the grocery store, and I’m going to buy the water that I want rather than the only water that’s left, which, no offense Fiji, is Fiji. Fiji is the water you drink when someone else hands it to you for free. It is $4 a bottle and, decidedly, not hurricane water — unless someone hands it to you for free during a hurricane.
▪ I will buy zero cans of Le Sueur Very Young Small Sweet Peas. Who buys fancy peas for hurricane sustenance? OK. Fine. I apparently do. Or did. I’m leaving that lifestyle behind this next go around because I still have those cans of peas. I clearly didn’t know what I was doing last year. In my defense, nine times out of 10 I eat popcorn or popsicles for dinner, so what do I know about canned goods that make sense in a hurricane?
▪ The correct response to every hedging evacuation question you have is always “yes.” I know you want someone to rationalize a no for you, but it’s a yes. Yes. For example:
“Hold up. Did Kris Allred just say ‘Hilton Head’ and ‘cone’? Should I immediately book a hotel room in a place that isn’t depressing?” Yes. Do it now. You can always cancel the reservation. You cannot cancel the experience of having paid four-star prices to sleep in a meth village run by the mayor of societal ills.
Ask yourself a second question, which is ‘What if the cats are one day in charge of deciding which humans to leave behind?’
“Should I take my cat with me when I evacuate?” Go to a mirror, look yourself dead in the eye and ask yourself a second question, which is “What if the cats are one day in charge of deciding which humans to leave behind?” They will remember this. You will not be in their favor.
“I don’t think we’ll get hit by this storm that they’re saying will ‘hit us.’ So should I even bother filling up my tank now?” I don’t know … do you like waiting behind long lines of people who waited until the last minute and who use up all the gas before it’s your turn?
“Should I get cash?” Yessssss. And yes, even if you waited to make a hotel reservation.
The upside of Ye Olde Bed Bug Inn in One Road, S.C., is that there are no concierges to tip, but no one in this storm-ravaged world can promise you that the mayor of societal ills won’t need his palms greased.
Call it “protection money.” Or “please, don’t steal my family’s photo albums” money.
Hurricane season is no joke. I think we all know that now.
Contact Ms. Farrell at firstname.lastname@example.org.