Wednesday, September 17, 2008

This Blows

Things have been weird this last week. The remnants of Ike rolled through on Sunday, knocking out power for 153% of Columbus residents, businesses, and people with no fixed address. It was strange because it was totally unexpected. The morning was hot and sunny and nothing seemed out of the ordinary, even though Pastor Tom at church took everybody outside and made us play cornhole. The wind picked up round about 1:00, but it never rained. It was still hot and sunny; just really bleeping windy. There was too much wind for all that sun. Standing outside was like watching Steve Urkel compete in the “World’s Strongest Man” competition. Reality is there right in front of you, but it just doesn’t make sense.

Our power went out at 3:00, which was a good thing because we were watching the Bengals lose to the Tennesse Titans at the time, and if the carnage on my television continued much longer I would have had to throw something large and heavy into our shiny new flat screen. We spent a decent amount of money on that thing, and I imagine Jen wouldn’t have appreciated it too much.

At least not until the Browns played.

So the power was out Sunday night and has been m.i.a. ever since. That has meant lots of money spent eating out, lots of time searching for bags of ice to keep our food from spoiling, and lots of time listening to AM talk radio, hoping in vain for positive news updates from the happy folks at WTVN, who keep telling us to look for more information on their website (how, exactly, am I supposed to do that, Paco?). Evenings move a lot slower when there isn't television to watch, and we crawled into bed early last night, hoping that the dulcet tones of Sean Hannity, who spoke excitedly about illegal aliens and fiscal responsibility, would lull us to sleep.

The worst part is that normal, rational people, who understand perfectly the rules of the road when they encounter everyday things like stop signs, apparently lose at least 50 IQ points when faced with the complex task of navigating a multiple lane intersection when the stoplights don't work. Some people - a rare few - adhere to the standard guidelines, which tell you to treat it like a four way stop. Others continue through the intersection at breakneck speeds, oblivious to everyone and everything they encounter. These are likely the same people who spend hours at home playing Grand Theft Auto and have decided to take the game to the streets now that the power has gone out and their game boxes no longer give them a questionably healthy yet completely legal outlet for their rage. They swing around corners at wide angles, shout loud profanities at old women, and attempt Olympic records for the 400m dash from each full stop, all the while hoping that if they hit a pedestrian hard enough, they'll knock him into the median and score extra points.

The worst offenders, however, are the timid. These are the people who go to bed at 8:00 pm every evening, never watch movies with a higher rating than G, and scour the ingredients of their food to make sure there are no unnecessary extravagances like salt or fat or taste. I see these people in their cars. They approach each intersection with their eyes closed, repeating a well-practiced mantra1, and then they leap into the intersection without paying attention. Only it wasn't their turn. Realizing their mistake, they panic. They cover their heads in a manner similar to what their teachers always said would protect them from a nuclear explosion when they were kids. They wave everyone else around, but people can't get past them, and everybody gets mad and starts honking, which exacerbates the whole thing, making tensions rise and causing the timid drivers to go into shock. As if they believe a real nuclear explosion is imminent. They hunker down further and prepare for the worst, which is a good thing because that's when one of the GTA's I mentioned earlier comes barreling through the intersection, ramming into the Timid Driver's car, and knocking it onto the median.The timid driver screams in horror, losing what little sanity he had left. And the GTA gets excited, thinking he's scored a thousand points and moved up a level.

We're supposed to get power back this evening. I hope so, too, because the hot water is nearly gone and I imagine we'll have to wash our clothes with a soapboard before too terribly long. Soapboards are nice when you're watching re-runs of "The Beverly Hillbillies," but in reality they stand for a complete lack of civilization and manners. I'm not saying I have either of those, but I do like to keep up pretenses.

Plus, I'd really like to get back to Grand Theft Auto.

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