Of Fear and Duct Tape

by Bill Brenner on May 14, 2015

I was anxious, jumpy, and panicky when I was younger, fear making me do the damnedest things. My sister loves to repeat the story of one of my more embarrassing freak-outs. It used to piss me off, but now I can sit back and laugh with everyone else.

To that end, let’s review the morning a hurricane was coming and I completely lost it.

Mood music:

First, some history.

Before I got my OCD under control, I was always full of fear and anxiety. It robbed me of a life that could have been better lived. I hid indoors a lot. I favored the fantasy of TV over the real world. And when the weather got hairy, I overreacted in ways that are more amusing in hindsight.

I blame the Blizzard of 1978 for my overreaction. When you’re eight years old and you watch the Atlantic Ocean rip apart a beach wall and head straight for your house, bad things go through your mind and they tend to stay there. Those things are helped along when the media compares every new storm to come along with that blizzard.

In August 1991, the news was full of reports about a military coup in Russia, which was scary because that meant the overthrow of Mikhail Gorbachev. He would be back in power before the week was out, but take the early hours of that crisis and mix it with reports that a hurricane called Bob was coming straight at us, and here’s what you get:

Me running around the house with duct tape, slathering reams of it on every window I could find.

I ran into my sister’s basement bedroom and proceeded to tape her window. One of her friends was sleeping over and got to see me in all my crazy glory.

“Get up, a hurricane is coming!” I bellowed. Stacey and her friend remained in the bed, not a care in the world.

“Come on, you idiots!” I yelled. “This ain’t no fucking Hurricane Gloria.”

Hurricane Gloria hit Massachusetts in 1985. It was supposed to be a devastating event, but it passed over us with more of a whimper than a bang. Hurricane Bob was going to be much worse, the weather people were telling us. And, of course, they started comparing the expected storm surge with that of the Blizzard of 1978.

Panic engulfed me.

Hurricane Bob turned out to be almost as anti-climactic as Gloria, but that Halloween a much more devastating storm hit and flooded out the neighborhood almost as badly as in 1978. Ironically, ours was one of the only houses not to get flooded.

Man's face covered in duct tape

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