Scott, a friend and former colleague who now works on Wall Street writes this morning from Noo Yawk City at 6:53 a.m. asking about Hurricane Wilma (I guess it really is the city that doesn't sleep.)
Being from NYC, he's generally curious about Florida, although in a specific kind of way. He's always pelting me with questions about "bikinis" and the relative amounts of clothing being worn at any given point of the year. And I always tweak his pervy nose hairs by replying, "We're down to loin cloths and sandals now, Scott."
I don't have the heart to tell him that three-quarters of the state is full of people he used to live with in New York. They're all pasty and fat and obnoxious and, I can say gladly, bikini free.
I love to taunt him this way, remembering that at the remote outpost where we once worked together, he kept a manilla file folder of lingerie his girlfriend sent him from back home. At strategic moments, like when I'd be on the phone trying to pelt a state official for information that was embedded like a wisdom tooth, he'd bust open the file cabinet, spring open the folder and wave a white, see-through bustier like a national flag. If I possess any level of professional inflappability, all credit goes to the training I got from Scott.
Anyway, he sent me this missive a couple minutes ago:
Lots of rain and limited wind damage in your nabe, eh?
And my reply:
Buttload of rain at the moment. Give it a few hours, though. We'll have sunshine by noon. No foolin'.
And, you know, that pretty much wraps up the report here at the Side Salad Doppler 9 Million Weather Center.
Sure, it's plenty ugly outside...
If anything, I have greater respect for the folks in the weather biz. They told us Wilma would take this weird little path, jog over the Yucatan Peninsula (Or "YUCK-uh-tan" as some half-wit on Fox News called it, right before I switched the channel in rage), then bounce improbably like a billiard trick shot across lower Florida before scampering out to the Atlantic.
And you know what? It's doing just that. They said we'd get a couple inches of rain, and we are. (See photo and chart below.)
Amazing stuff, really.
I didn't take in the basketball hoop.
I'm such a tool.
I cavalierly announced to anyone who would listen the past few days that I wasn't going to do a damn thing to get ready. I might bring a few things in from outside - maybe some plants or decorations - but that was it.
So I got the adrenaline rush I deserved at 5 a.m. when my subconscious matched the force of the real wind blowing outside with the imagined consequence of a portable basketball hoop landing on top of the truck or the car. That kind of horrific thought tends to get your head off the pillow in a hurry.
So there I am, in the dark, running in torrential rain as I back both vehicles out of the driveway. I'm soaking wet. It's blowing like, well, a hurricane.
And then the transvestite puppy wakes up. Which means he has to go out or else his levee will break and his bladder will flood our home like Orleans Parish.
So he trots merrily to the front door, and I quick-step behind him, trying to get him to a blade of grass before he moistens the floor. I open the door and a gust forces it out of my hand. The dog, standing inside, winces and bows his head from rain pelting his face.
To cut to the chase, I'll ask this: Have you ever walked a puppy in a hurricane? The experience holds exquisite treasure.
You become part beggar, part negotiator, part bouncer just to get the dog to even consider going outside.
Not that I blame him. I'd have a hard time with my excretory functions if I was releasing my innards while naked on the lawn as rain pelted my rectum at 40 mph.
I was reduced to trying a rainbow of techniques to cajole him to do his bidness:
Method No. 1: You lie to him like Nixon and try to brainwash him into thinking it isn't that bad.
Method No. 2: When he fails to succumb to Method No. 1 and he refuses to go out, you run out to show him how bad it isn't outside. End result: You're soaked again and he's still dry.
Method No. 3: You wait for a lull in the storm to show him that everything he hated about the first two methods has gone bye-bye. Unfortunately, that lull never comes.
Method No. 4: You try a new exitway. You take the dog out through the garage, guessing that since he runs like Papillon whenever you open that door, he might have temporary insanity and ignore the wind and the rain and run to freedom.
The Good News About Method No. 4: It works. The dog runs out into the yard a couple feet and finally releases a torrent upon the lawn, turning his head away from the horizontal rain the way a heartbroken Ingrid Bergman turned her chin away from Bogart at the end of "Casablanca."
The Bad News About Method No. 4: Opening a larger door during a hurricane only exposes everything behind that door to hurricane conditions. You essentially drain one problem but load up on moisture for everything else you own.
So, that's what things are like this morning at Casa del Ensalada.
It's not Noo Yawk City, but we'll take it.