I don’t think that being flippant about weather is a “New York Thing,” I think it’s something that you get from your family. I think it’s something genetic, something embedded in one’s DNA.
I feel that if a mosquito drank my blood, landed on a tree and drowned/was fossilized in sap, the world ended, then Future Richard Attenborough were to clone me to make an amusement park, The Keely would be characterized by a tendency to be perpetually irritated, fatigued, and ignorant of impending weather.
The Keely would also charge Jeff Goldblum if he ever visited.
My family has always taken a very casual stance on severe weather. As my dad always says to me, be it post-break-up or pre-hurricane, “It’ll be fine!” There was one time a few years ago when tornadoes were touching down not too far from our neighborhood, and the only person who batted an eyelash was my then-boyfriend who had come over for dinner. “Shouldn’t we go down to the basement?” he asked, and that seemed so silly to all of us. What a drama queen! Plus, we were all kinda hungry, and the Red Sox were playing (and woe betide the man who comes between Poppa Flaherty and his Red Sox.)
In retrospect, my then-boyfriend definitely had a point. But I didn’t fully realize that my attitude towards weather was unhealthy until this past week, when Hurricane Irene took roughly two months to travel from The Bahamas to North Carolina. Once Mayor Bloomberg got on TV and used his very, very bad Spanish to evacuate parts of the city, I decided it might be a good idea to buy some stuff, and fast.
So around 10PM that night I walked two blocks, got some bottled water, walked home, and felt too tired to look for a flashlight, food, blah blah blah. So I watched part of Four Weddings and a Funeral and went to sleep.
The next day, my workplace was positively a-twitter with talk of the storm. Everyone talked about which evacuation zone they were in, the subways shutting down, is life imitating Deep Impact now that we have a Black president, whatever happened to Leelee Sobieski, etc. I started to panic. Her career was so short-lived.
I was so intent on getting to the grocery right after work, that I didn’t change out of my work skirt–which, as I mentioned before, has the girth of a headband. It is, blessedly, a skort, but by skort, I mean a granny-panties-included skort, not that lovely thigh-slimming athletic type of skort.
What I didn’t mention is how very light and lovely the fabric is, how it is so easily moved, and how a child’s gentlest cough would blow my work skirt right off.
As I rush to the store after work, I front-flash everyone on the subway as the train pulls into the station with a windy whoosh! I back-flash everyone again as I exit the train and it speeds off with a windy whoosh! I flash a gaggle of Hispanic women crossing the street as a bus passes with a windy whoosh! to a chorus of “AY!” and “UH-UH, GIRL!”
Meanwhile, back in Ohio, Oscar was playing “Roadkill.”
I try to keep my skirt on as I make my way to the grocery store to buy “non-perishable” food.
Let it be known I don’t really believe in “non-perishable” food. All food should, at some point, perish (even marshmallows, tragically, go stale). The check-out line is halfway around the store, they are completely out of bread, so I decide to grab the standards: Cap’n Crunch, granola bars, and dried cranberries. “These will get me through the long haul!” I think, when realistically, they will get me through one episode of Firefly.
Despite my not being a big believer in “non-perishables,” the guy in front of me buys a bucket of cottage cheese, half a cantaloupe, and three bags of spinach. Now even I know that food has a shelf-life of one Frasier episode, commercials not included.
I trot to Home Depot to find they don’t have flashlights, then to CVS to find that they don’t either.
I sprint into a sketchy deli near my apartment as a last-ditch attempt, and behold! They are selling flashlights! For twenty bucks. Whatever, I’ll take it, I need to finish reading The Magician King, power or no power. I pull out my debit card, and the cashier makes a throat-slashing gesture with his finger and says, “Cash.” I have two dollars.
I need know if Quentin Coldwater learns what it means to be a hero. I need this flashlight. (I have clearly forgotten about the candles at this point.)
Five minutes, two dollars, and lots of hand gesturing later, I am running to my apartment to get the remaining eighteen bucks in cash. I am almost positive that the deli cashier is holding a flashlight for me, so long as I get back and pay in a timely manner.
I wave and sprint past my doorman, the sweetest, most vaguely Eastern European person in the world, to find that the elevator is there! Luck! I always feel like a jagweed taking the elevator to the third floor, so I generally press “3” and stare at the floor until the door opens, then hurry out. There’s another woman in the elevator with me, so I do just that. I feel the heat of her judgment.
The elevator door opens, and the woman and I both get out. I feel a little better. I get to my door and jam the key into the lock, ready to throw my groceries down, grab the cash and run, but the key doesn’t turn. Gahddammit I say, and then I look down.
The doorknob is gone.
The doorknob is gone.
For some reason, I kick the door. Hard.
I reach for the place where the doorknob should be.
I’ve been robbed. I’m being robbed. Somebody on my floor hates me.
I catapult myself down the stairs.
I skid into the lobby, lock eyes with my doorman, and the following occurs:
The Keely: It’s gone.
The Doorman: [smiling] What?
The Keely: My doorknob. It’s gone.
The Doorman: What?
The Keely: Gone. I–I don’t know, it was there when I left this morning, and I just got back, and now it’s gone.
[Doorman grows serious, then grows about five feet in height, and becomes the human equivalent of the Iron Curtain.]
The Iron Curtain: Hang on.
[Iron Curtain locks the front door, grabs a pair of pliers, and heads toward the maintenance elevator. The Maintenance Guy comes skidding in. We lock eyes.]
The Keely: My doorknob is gone.
The Maintenance Guy: Holy shit?
The Keely: Holy shit.
The Iron Curtain: We’re going up now, watch the front desk. [Whisks The Keely into the freight elevator. The Keely stares at the floor out of habit.] Did anything strange happen this morning?
The Keely: No, nothing, I can’t believe it. What could have happened to it?
The Iron Curtain: Did you look on the floor, see if it had fallen off?
The Keely: Actually, no.
[Elevator door opens. The Iron Curtain and The Keely walk down the hall, and The Doorknob is there.]
This is no longer gone.
The Iron Curtain: …
The Keely: …I swear to GOD this was not here, I swear to JESUS CHRIST that this was GONE FIVE MINUTES AGO. It was, I swear, it was gone, it was not here, the doorknob was gone. IT WAS GONE.
[The Iron Curtain looks quizzical for a moment, and then, shrinking five feet and once again becoming The Doorman, starts laughing hysterically. The Doorman practically weeps with amusement.]
The Doorman: You got off on the wrong floor. [The Doorman hugs The Keely like a small child, for that is what The Keely feels like.]
It is humiliating. It is more humiliating than when my phone autocorrects “Haaay!” to “Gassy!” I’ve text-initiated more than one conversation with, “Gassy gurl!” That is nothing compared to this.
It turns out the woman in the elevator with me had gotten off on the second floor, not the third floor. I’m so used to being ashamed of taking the elevator to the third floor, I never considered the fact that someone would have enough lazyballs to take it to the second floor. I just pressed the button and looked down, per usual, waited for the doors to open, and stepped right out onto the wrong floor–a floor that, currently, has a vacated space that needs a replacement doorknob before the new tenant moves in.
Embarrassing things happen when you take weather seriously.