Friday, April 14, 2006

I Blame the Hobbits

The sirens went off for the 5th, 6th, and 7th time today, in two weeks time.

Friday night is often an evening for light dinners and a movie. Tonight, with no new Netflix at hand, we were unsure of what we would do with our evening, until Pat remembered that the entire Lord of the Rings triology was airing this weekend. The first one started tonight. At 8 pm, after E went bed, Pat settled in to watch "Lord of the Rings" on TV (the movie was fine the first time but I saw no need for an encore viewing), and I opted to take a spin and enjoy some time alone. The weather had been iffy at best all afternoon, but it seemed clear at the time. As I was leaving, Pat mentioned that there were more storms to come, and I remember musing to myself, "Storms? I ain't afraid of no storms!"

After nearly getting blown to bits, along with my ornamental grasses, as I left the local garden center, I should have taken my cue and went back home. But the sky did not look THAT ominous, and my kitties needed some food and a cup of tea and a magazine was calling my name all the way from the bookstore, a few miles on up the road.

At my next destination, Pat called me to suggest that maybe I should hang out in the area for a bit longer due to the tempestuous weather set to hit our house within a few minutes. No problem...just an excuse for tea AND a scone while I enjoy my magazine. I did opt to make the quick stop necessary to purchase the kibble for the felines first. A stop that ended up lasting MUCH longer than anticipated.

No sooner had I located the aisle for my item, all patrons in the store were instructed to proceed to the safety hallway in the back of store. The tornadoes were on their way. Some people assumed that this was an optional procedure, more of a suggestion or request. But this store, they were serious. No one was permitted to leave the store, and we all proceeded to the aforementioned hallway. Along with the stores employees, we all filed in. I quickly surveyed the faces in the crowd. I am usually hard pressed to ever leave the house without seeing someone I know. As I'm sure happens to you as well, if I look particularly unkempt, then I can be assured that I'll see twice as many people. Today, because I showered AND applied makeup, there was not one person I knew sardined into this hallway with me. What I would not have given for a familiar face. Then every movie about natural disasters or the "end of the world" that I have ever seen flashed through my mind, and I could not help but chuckle as I analyzed the faces around me and thought "What if we're all trapped in here for days, and these are the people from whom I'll have hord the pack of gum in my purse from?" What's a tornado scare without a little fatalist drama in your head?

Just as the lady next to me was telling me about her elderly mother at home alone who would need her assistance getting on the alternate oxygen source at home should the power go out, the entire store went dark. I spontaneously put my hand on her arm as she gasped. Dude, this suddenly felt kind of serious. In the darkness, we listened to the wind howl and the hail pound. Thankfully it was not all that long before the alternate power source came on and offered us a bit of visibility. In the light, I could see that my new friend was shaking.

A bit of comedic relief came when the girl standing behind me, who insisted on bouncing her giant red ball while we all waited, starting telling the lady next to her about her experiences in kindergarten. She offered, "My teacher's name is Ms. Virgin. I can spell that if you want. Ms. V-I-R-G-I-N! Virgin!" When a few people around her chuckled, she asked her mother, "Why is that funny?" ha! Nothing like a 6 year old to help you take your mind off of your troubles.

I am not one to freak out, and I certainly was not on this occasion. But I'd be lieing if I said that the thought of my husband and daughter burrowed down in our basement at home without me didn't cause me to pause and worry just a bit (even though worrying is not my job).

It was not too much longer before we were released from our captivity and permitted to go on our merry way. Purchases were encouraged to be avoided, considering that we were already 30 minutes past the stores closing time and the electricity was limited. As I navigated the darkened parking lot, in the pouring rain, with no cat food to show for it, I realized I had only the hobbits to blame.

*I'm pretty sure that the storms did not really hit where the lady with the elderly mother lived, so, as far as I can tell, her mother should have been fine.

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