Namo amitabha Buddhaya, y'all.
This here's a religious establishment. Act respectable.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


Playing on the iPod: Jeffrey Koepper, "Passages"
Meters swum today: No idea. See below.

If you're familiar with the comedy of Jeff Dunham, you have probably met Walter here, the curmudgeonly California codger who makes fun of -- well, pretty much anybody who's not him. On "Spark of Insanity," Jeff's second and fantastic DVD, Walter talks about the weather and natural disasters in other parts of the country. In California he proclaims, "Wwwwweeee lllllove itttt hhhheeerre!" as the ground rumbles. "W-w-we l-l-love it-t-t-t h-h-here!" he chatters through a Minnesota snowstorm. And clinging to Jeff's arm, trying not to fly away, he says, "WE LOVE IT HEEEEEERE!!!!" as a Florida hurricane bears down on him.

I was thinking about Walter while I was sitting on the bathroom floor last night with a semiconscious Joan and two confused cats (there wasn't any catching the third one). See, Joan had gone to bed early and taken half an Ambien, which virtually guarantees she won't make any sense until the following morning. I was tired as hell, having worked almost 10 hours that day but couldn't get my brain to wind down, so I was watching this horror movie on "Chiller." I'd pretty much figured out who all was gonna die (an essential point of horror movies) and nothing all that scary was happening, so I was about to bail on the movie and go to bed. Suddenly I heard a strange noise. After muting the TV and determining it was not, in fact, the monster in the basement creeping up the back stairs after the idiot punk rockers and the selfish bitch of a stepmother, I realized it was the tornado siren at the freight yard nearby.

My stomach dropped about a foot into the lower part of my abdomen. There's no sound on earth as scary as a tornado siren, except maybe "You'll be needin' ta replace that there engine, honey." I got up and went over to the door to make sure I wasn't imagining things and quickly switched the TV to "Fox 4 Warn Weather" (half an octopus, natch). Sure enough, there were big red swirly things headed right toward us on the weather map. I dunno what big red swirly things are, exactly, except that they're very bad, especially when they turn purple. Purple is really bad. It was raining like crazy outside but that's not so unusual for this time of year. Tornadoes kind of are. But hey, was I gonna argue with big swirly red things and half an octopus? No.
I turned up the TV volume and went to wake up Joan. She mumbled something untranslatable and asked what we were going to do. I suggested we hide out in the bathroom, which is what they tell you to do in case of big red swirly things. Your big danger in a tornado, by the way, is not getting sucked up by the funnel (though that does happen) but being flattened by debris. The more interior walls between you and the outside, the merrier. I think the hallway is actually a better choice in our house but the bathroom has pipes that go way, way down. If God forbid the suction does come along, you have something below ground to hang onto until such time as gravity takes over again. The best choice, of course, is a storm cellar. We don't have one.
So Joan sat down on the commode, hugging a pillow. One of the cats ran under the bed but I shooed the other two into the bathroom and shut the door. Then I plunked down on the floor and listened at the door to the TV, waiting for all hell to break loose and putting a hand up occasionally to steady Joan, who kept trying to fall (literally) back asleep (and off the commode). Just as Joan had a lucid moment and said, "It doesn't sound like anything's going to happen," the TV abruptly cut out. (Satellite dishes. Sigh.) Two seconds later, all hell broke loose. The wind slammed into the house (and I do mean slammed), hail started pounding on the roof and lighting was striking all over the damn place. This seemed to last at least three hours but it was probably more like fifteen minutes. Suddenly all was quiet again, and after a couple of breaths the TV kicked back on, just in time to say "--is moving out of Dallas County, but if you're in Rockwall, you need to take cover." Thank God. The cats were having apoplexy.
Uponst getting Joan back in bed and the two cats re-established in their favorite nap spots and fishing the third one back out to assure her continued existence, I thought I'd catch the end of the movie after all. The little foul weather warnings were hanging around in the top upper corner of the screen like they always are and none of em said "Dallas." During a commercial I set up the coffee maker and was just sitting down again when the tornado siren went off for a second time.
Now wait just a darn second here. We'd already done the hide in the bathroom thing. The big swirly red things were well into Rockwall County. It was hardly even raining anymore. Joan was back asleep and I knew my odds of getting her out of bed the second time were pretty much nonexistent. What in hell was going on? I went to the door and listened. Nothing apart from the siren. Could it be the all-clear? Is there such a thing as an all-clear? Was I going to be demolished by a tornado, while I stood here by the door with my ear to the crack, like a fool?
Nothing happened. I went to bed. And kept hearing the siren in my sleep, bolting upright, looking around, then going back to sleep.
This morning, I discovered that some glitch in the warning system triggered the second, false alarm. I also discovered that the tornado (if it was one; it also could have been straight line winds, a microburst, or a number of other Texas weather nasties) hit Patricia Street, which is like a mile and a half from our house. I used to know somebody on Patricia Street. I hope she is okay. So I'm not at all unhappy that we huddled in the bathroom. Just because there's never been anything bigger than an F2 recorded in Dallas doesn't mean there isn't a first time for the F5 that hit Oklahoma City. We seem to have escaped with very little damage otherwise. A large limb fell off our oak tree out front, but that was it, and it didn't seem to have any lightning marks.
So, anyway, if anybody out there has seen the movie "Dolls," and it DOESN'T end with the wicked stepmother, the two punk rockers and possibly the nice dad getting killed while the little girl and the older childlike man escape virtually unscathed, please fill me in. Otherwise I'll just assume I'm right.
I crawled to the pool and lost count of my distance traveled for the first time ever. Until next time. WE LOVE IT HEEEERE!!!


Joan said...

Joan here. I want to point out that I was in no real danger of falling off the commode (which was closed, BTW) during our storm-induced cowering. The bathroom is so small (all together now, "How small IS it??") that had I leaned too far to the left, the shower door would have stopped my fall, and to the right, Jen and the sink would have. Frankly, I'm glad I was half an Ambien to the wind last night. Had I been fully awake, I probably would have been scared to pieces. Better living through chemistry.

Junkill said...

wow...yeah, that was the night that a tornado was spotted less than a mile from my work. We had to end our last massage 15 minutes early and hang with our clients for about half an hour in the central corridor.

Jen said...

The tornado, if it was one, hit just up Garland Road from here, I think about a mile and a half away. Close enough for me.