I was an anxious, jumpy, panicky little bastard when I was younger. Fear made me do the damnedest things. My sister Stacey loves to repeat the story of one of my more embarrassing moments. It used to piss me off. Now I can sit back and laugh with everyone else.
So fuck it. Let’s review the morning a hurricane was coming and I went bat-shit crazy.
First, some history. I’ve explained this before, so no need to stick around if you’ve heard it:
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 land of TV over the real, scary world. And when the weather got hairy, I over-reacted in ways that are more amusing in hindsight.
I blame the Blizzard of 1978 for that. When you watch the Atlantic Ocean rip apart a beach wall like it’s melted ice cream and head straight for your house, bad things go through your mind when you’re 8 years old. In later years, when comparisons of that blizzard go hand in hand with every new storm warning, the fear flames over everything else in life until your sanity is reduced to a pile of ashes.
So there we were, in August 1991. The news was already 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 is 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 Stacey’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 aint no fucking Hurricane Gloria.”
Hurricane Gloria was a storm that 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.
They started comparing the expected storm surge with that of the Blizzard of 1978. Panic.
That storm turned out to be almost as anti-climactic as Gloria.
That Halloween, a much more devastating storm hit, and flooded out the neighborhood almost as badly as in 1978. Ours was one of the only houses not to get flooded.