Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Always take the weather with you

I grew up in the midwest where I learned to be terrified of tornadoes. I've never witnessed one in person but religious zealots from all faiths will tell you that a lack of actual practical life experience doesn't have to prohibit you from living with irrational, paralyzing fears. As a result, even visual images of tornadoes, like this one, scare me. The black and white beginning of "The Wizard Of Oz" creeps me out. Even "Twister", possibly the dumbest movie ever made, gives me chills. Such is life.

One of the things I considered to be a plus when I moved to Florida was escaping the damn things. Sure, I would be trading "up" for hurricanes and other tropical storms which are generally far more destructive. But in most cases, a tropical storm will give you a day or two's head start before it comes and beats the crap out of you and your stuff. If you think about it, hurricanes are like schoolyard bullies. They give you repeated warnings, telling you exactly where and when they plan on kicking your ass, allowing you at least a little time to arrange an escape of some sort. Or you can stick around and take your chances with the knowledge that many times they're not as tough as they appear and sometimes they don't even show up at all. Not so with tornadoes, who are more like ninjas. They announce their arrival by arriving suddenly amid a swarm of dark, sinister clouds, spinning around a lot and unleashing an ungodly howl before kicking you around the yard for a while and then disappearing into nothingness. That hardly seemed fair, so while I had some trepidations about moving from one end of the country to another, I was glad to leave the stupid things behind.

What also didn't seem fair was finding out Florida has tornadoes that are just as nasty as the ones up north. Sometimes they precede or even accompany hurricanes. Isn't that funny? Ha ha ha! Yeah, I didn't think so either. Upon learning this, I felt like a character in one of those Faustian tales where someone trades their soul to Satan to fulfill their lifelong dream to be the greatest musician the world has ever seen and they wind up with the ability to be a virtuoso, but can only play bagpipes. Granted, tornadoes happen less frequently here, but they're like speeding tickets; it only takes one to completely ruin your day.

So yesterday around 4:30 in the afternoon during a standard Florida afternoon thunderstorm, when we looked out the window at work and saw ourselves being bombarded by hail, I immediately flashed back to being a youngster watching those horrifying duck-and-cover style educational films in school. The ones we watched every spring that told us that if we heard the siren wailing and we couldn't get to a basement, or a ditch outdoors, we should curl up in a ball and hope that there were enough windows open to keep the pressure from building up and making your home or school explode like a hydrogen bomb. A co-worker said "Doesn't hail mean that tornadoes are coming?" My mouth replied calmly, "Well, it's an indication that conditions might be favorable for the possible formation of tornadoes" while my brain screamed silently, "Yes! The tornadoes are definitely here for us and nothing can sate their savage, destructive hunger. Prepare for Judgment Day, for we are in Florida, where buildings have no basements and we are truly doomed." It was windy as hell for a little while but the storm subsided without incident...this time. This was good because if I'd actually seen a funnel cloud, I don't mind admitting that I'd have cried out for my Auntie Em. And I don't even have one.

6 comments:

LC said...

Soooo I guess playing Twister at our wedding reception is out of the question?

Why, it's Clark! said...

Playing Twister is definitely NOT out of the question. A wedding reception, on the other hand...

Denise said...

I grew up watching water spouts in the Bay from my back yard ... but I've never seen a tornado. Still, though, they are my biggest fear.

Same subject, new note: why do buildings made of anything but concrete block even exist as new construction today - especially here and in the midwest (Tornado Alley and Hurricane Way?).

Blogging McBloggington said...

I love the movie Twister. Why do you hate Twister, Clark?

Anonymous said...

Favorite Nephew:
Just another advantage to moving into one's mini-van - changing one's location (like out of the tornado's path) at a moment's notice!
Favorite Aunt

Wildhair said...

I've never witnessed or experienced a tornado despite the fact that I've only lived where tornadoes are considered the state bird.