Here on the west coast we are between storms. During this brief intermission I paused to reflect on what I learned during the last storm. It is this: I am a Southern California born-and-bred Wussy. With a capital W.
On Monday, while it was pouring rain (in what one friend called “Venti-sized drops”) and the wind was blowing hard (What? The palm trees were all bend-y!), I began emailing local friends who are from places like Minnesota and Colorado. I wanted to find out their reactions in order to determine if my terror was justified. (This is sort of like when I try to read the flight attendants’ faces during turbulence on a one-hour Southwest Airlines flight.) Also, I sent my husband a chain of emails such as:
“But don’t drive fast in the rain!”
“Did you remember to order the gopher wood for the ark I want you to build?”
“Should I call the handyman about the ark?”
But yesterday, Mother Nature decided to be an even saucier wench than she was the day before by causing our local weather service to issue . . . TORNADO WARNINGS! Tornadoes! Here? Okay, earthquakes? They happen. Wildfires? Yes. Gas prices that make filling my tank cost more than my first car? That, too. But tornadoes in San Diego? That’s just not right.
Along with the tornado warnings FOR MY PARTICULAR PART OF SAN DIEGO, the local news channel provided instructions. “In the event of a tornado, get into a basement.” Seriously? I don’t know anyone in Southern California with a basement, and, if I did, I would have moved in with that family yesterday. That instruction was followed with, “If no basement is available, get into a downstairs closet.” Okay, you know what? That’s not going to work either. We only have one downstairs closet and it is tiny and contains something called a vacuum cleaner (although I’m not sure what that thing does). I want to be in my upstairs closet, which would be way more comfortable and contains nice shoes. So I emailed my husband and told him when he got home from work to start looking for me in the rubble near wherever the master bedroom landed, and that he would be able to identify my body by the Adam Lambert T-shirt.
When I went to pick up Laura from school, I realized that I was glad that I’d seen the movie Twister. If I hadn’t, I would not have known that a car can outrun a tornado. I drove home comforted by this thought, and that a house might drop on the woman who had been ahead of me in the carpool line because I don’t really like her very much. (Hey, I should buy her some striped socks, so she has the proper tornado attire, too.)
Once I had Laura home from school, I thought about hiding the tornado warning from her—after all she’s only nine. But then I decided it was time for her to grow up and face the realities of life. (By that I mean that she should face the reality of tornadoes, not yet the fact that her mother is neurotic.) Mostly I decided to tell her about the tornado warning because two sets of eyes would be better than one looking out of the windows for funnel clouds.
Before the tornado warning had expired, I had a new dilemma. Adam Lambert was on Oprah yesterday. That meant that I had to stop staring out the windows and start staring at him. Adam Lambert’s brilliant interview and fantastic performance made that part easy. (Also, thank you Universe for DVRs because Laura and I watched it three times already!) (Yes, we really did.) (And some singing and dancing in front of the coffee table may or may not have been involved.) During a commercial break, I emailed my husband to give him new instructions about where to find my body in the rubble should a tornado strike while I was watching Oprah; i.e., he would be able to find me underneath where the roof caved into the family room, holding the television.
Another round of storms is due to hit our area soon, and the local news reports that this one will be worse than the last. But don’t worry about me! I’m looking on the bright side! Today might be the last day I ever have to do laundry. And now, if you’ll excuse me, the dryer is making that horrible dinging sound. I have just enough time to fold a load of clothes before I leave for my therapy appointment.