'Matter of Laugh or Death,' a humor column
By Bill Dunn
Interesting observations on this thing we call life
(appearing each week in the Republican-American newspaper, Waterbury, CT)
HURRICANE SOAKS STATE; MACHO MAN SOAKS FEET
Last week I wrote about the reaction here in Connecticut to the mild earthquake we experienced on August 23rd. You remember the earthquake, right? A 5.8 tremor, centered in Virginia, was felt all the way up here in New England. By the time the vibrations reached us, the rumbling effect was about the same as that experienced each day by the tenants who live directly below Michael Moore’s apartment. That is, it was noticeable but not really a big deal.
I noted that within minutes of the quake, every radio station interrupted regular programming and opened up the phone lines so dozens of people could call in and breathlessly tell the listening audience how terrifying it was when their office chairs quivered for two seconds. One caller in particular got my attention. He explained that he was in the middle of a pedicure when the water in which his feet were soaking sloshed around a bit. The part about the water sloshing didn’t bother me, but the fact that he nonchalantly and shamelessly announced that he was getting a pedicure caused me to lament that our society has become far too wussified.
I concluded by wondering how we would ever be able to handle a real disaster—such as a hangnail.
Well, two days after I wrote that earthquake column, I got my answer. Hurricane Irene swept up the east coast and battered the Nutmeg State with torrential rains and high winds. By the time she blew out of here, many of our rivers and creeks were raging over their banks and washed away anything in their paths—cars, roads, houses, bridges, etc. Additionally, numerous shoreline homes got smashed and trashed, and more than half of the state lost power, well over 700,000 residential and business customers.
OK, it certainly wasn’t on the scale of Hurricane Katrina or the tsunami in Japan, but it wasn’t a hangnail either. Any time you lose power for five, six, or seven days, it is a serious hardship. And when the lights are out day after day after day, I suspect getting a pedicure drops down to the bottom of a guy’s to-do list. (Although it really should drop OFF the to-do list of any self-respecting fella who has at least a molecule of testosterone still left in his body.)
So how did the folks of Connecticut handle this natural disaster? Pretty darn well, I’d have to say. There were countless stories of sacrifice and sharing, with neighbors helping neighbors deal with the crisis.
One story epitomizes this charitable attitude: a retired couple in a shoreline town, who were not exactly able to wield chain saws or unload jugs of water from the back of a truck, wanted to do something to help out. When they realized that two pounds of bacon were quickly defrosting in their freezer, this elderly couple (who coincidentally just happen to be my parents) decided to fry up the whole two pounds on their gas grille and have a neighborhood “bacon party.” (Mmm, bacon party. That’s what I want for my next birthday.) Their gesture didn’t restore electrical service any quicker, but it did put smiles on many faces.
Eventually, power was restored. You could tell things were getting back to normal when people had the time to phone in to radio shows, this time to vent at the power company for not sprinkling pixie dust onto the mangled electrical grid to magically fix everything in an instant.
We’ll know the crisis is really over when the chainsaw-wielding he-men of the Nutmeg State once again have time for their monthly pedicures.
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