The idiocy before the storm.
Woke up this morning to my very loud doorbell ringing. I figured it was either my landlady or more likely the neighborâ€™s spastic â€œguestâ€ â€“ a stranger that my neighbor took in over a month ago. Sheâ€™s been over a few times, usually ringing my doorbell in a frenzy. She stomps in, rants endlessly about how much Florida is a festering hell hole, how her host is apparently sleeping with a homeless guy who hangs out in the nearby library, how her host should have a restraining order put on the guy because heâ€™s apparently crazy, how she canâ€™t get a job, how every black guy who sees her thinks sheâ€™s a hooker, and repeat until she leaves.
I had to get up anyway by the time the doorbell rang, but I knew better than to answer it. Then I heard the phone ring. It was her. After my shower, cup of coffee in my hand, I finally hit play on the answering machine.
â€œHi. Your landlady was by and wanted me to tell you to put the grill inside so it doesnâ€™t get damaged, or, like yâ€™know damage something else in the hurricane and I was wondering if, like, I could come over for a couple hours today and tomorrow because Kim, yâ€™know who lives here, has this guy staying here, he should have a restraining order put against him, and everything else is closed, so I canâ€™t go anywhere and I canâ€™t get a job and â€“ Mes-sage De-le-ted.â€
I donâ€™t deal with this shit â€“ in fact I donâ€™t deal with any person â€“ first thing after I wake up. I had planned on spending a nice day alone with the hurricane. The thought of spending any time with this chattering spaz curdles the bile in my lower intestine. So now Iâ€™m periodically looking at the TV on mute, listening to my stereo with headphones, and making as little noise as possible. The storm isnâ€™t expected to hit until 8 p.m. Iâ€™d like it to hit now.
Itâ€™s a shame. If she wasnâ€™t such a fucking idiot, I wouldnâ€™t mind having her over. By fucking idiot, Iâ€™ll give you an example. I mentioned already how she gets accosted by black men. Okay. Now picture this. 5â€™10â€, anorexic (seriously), stringy blonde hair, 35 going on 45, pink shorts (shorter than Daisy Dukes) that look like they were spray painted on her, a white tube top with something blousy and wavy on top, and she struts like a bad runway model, I assume because she really thinks sheâ€™s a model. Now walk down to the Kash nâ€™ Karry on MLK and 275. I have friends who live or have lived in some of the most ghettoed-out areas of town, and they call that Kash nâ€™ Karry scary. They wonâ€™t go in it. You canâ€™t drive through the intersection without seeing a homeless person or a junkie, or some unidentifiable shady person. She looks like a fucking hooker before she leaves the house, and she honestly doesnâ€™t know why all these black people are trying to pick her up. I am not making this up.
Iâ€™ll give you another example of the idiocy barometer. Some time last year, she moved from Denver â€“ which according to her is the best city in the world â€“ to Miami to be a model. Now, when I look at her and hear the word “model”, frankly, I think of the kind of model you see in free, amateur Internet porn and you instantly say, aloud, â€œew.â€ Then you search for better free Internet porn. And you find it. So she moved to Miami to be a model. Apparently, she struck out. So someone suggested sheâ€™d be better off in Orlando. She moved to Orlando, which is full of apparently the skeeziest scumbags known to man. Someone in Orlando suggested she move to Tampa. Now sheâ€™s here, complaining about why the state sucks so much.
I bring this up for a reason. See, Floridians have a very different perspective than everyone else when it comes to hurricanes. Granted, itâ€™s not all people from Florida, but the further south you go, the more prevalent the perspective until you eventually reach Key West, where it runs rampant. The perspective is, â€œhurricane? fucking right on!â€ You get your water, you get some food, you get something alcoholic, you make sure you have a good book, a candle or two, maybe portable music, and you enjoy the ride, knowing that if a tree is coming through your house, itâ€™s going to happen despite your paltry precautions. If youâ€™re near the coast, you make sure your inner tube doesnâ€™t have any leaks so you can catch some surf.
For example, my parents raised me in Fort Lauderdale. One now lives in Virginia. In the past 48 hours, they have collectively called me (drum roll please) zero times. The logic is: â€œEh, big storm. If anything interesting happens, heâ€™ll call. If something devastating happens, and he canâ€™t call because the lines/satellites are down, he wonâ€™t call, but we canâ€™t get through either, so whatâ€™s the point? Whereâ€™s the church key?â€
Non-Floridians, however, donâ€™t believe in this. For them, this is an earthquake that you know is happening. You canâ€™t do anything about that either, but you canâ€™t realize that, if youâ€™re running around like a ferret on coke, freaking out about all the things you should be doing to prevent it from happening. I do not want to be locked in my own apartment, where I know where the Bushmills and baseball bat are, with some fucking spastic babbling nutjob from Colorado when a force 3 hurricane stampedes the windows.
As for the hurricane, Iâ€™m not concerned about flooding. I lived in the heavy flood zone for four years, and I considered this when I moved to my new place. The area of Tampa I live in is elevated and far enough from the river for me to not worry about it. The land under my house is elevated above the street, and the house is elevated over that land. Itâ€™s an 80-year-old house thatâ€™s seen plenty of weather. If my house floods, that means the rest of Tampa is 5 feet below sea level, so Iâ€™ll have bigger problems than a wet floor anyway. My bigger concern is trees. Lots and lots of oaks. Plus, Tampa surprisingly doesnâ€™t get hurricanes. I donâ€™t even know the last real hurricane that came through here. Weâ€™ve had some scares in the past 10 years Iâ€™ve lived here, but not force 2 or 3 stuff. Since that last real hurricane, whenever that was, things have had plenty of time to grow in a relatively calm environment. This means lots of things are just waiting to be whipped around by 70 mph winds.
(The neighbor’s stray dog has stomped around the house, entering and exiting her host’s apartment about four times in the last three minutes.)
The calm environment has also been a bit of a hazard for the residents. If this really is a â€œbig oneâ€, about half of Tampa proper is in for a very rude awakening. South Tampa floods when itâ€™s really humid out. Davis Island closes when we get three straight days of rain. If 13 feet of storm swell really is happening, well, imagine standing on the seawall of Tampa Bay with seven or eight feet of water over your head. Maybe knock a foot or two off of that as you move inland, but south Tampa is peninsular, so you can only go a few miles inland in some areas before youâ€™re getting close to coastline again. And for those of us who live in my neck of the woods? The general consensus is: â€œFuck â€˜em, yuppie assholes. Hope those four wheel drives came with outboard motors.â€
So here I am, exactly eight hours before the fun really starts. Iâ€™ll keep you posted as best I can.
(The neighbor’s stray dog is now sitting on the front step, talking loudly. To herself.)