The whole time I was standing in the supermarket trying not to crawl under my shopping cart or die of embarrassment, I kept thinking that soon enough the day would end. I would go home and go straight to bed just so it could not be Wednesday, December 1,
2004 anymore. And the whole time that the machine kept spitting out my debit card and even when I ran over to the ATM and produced a slip that said I had way more than enough money in my account to cover the grocery bill and even when I realized my bank had fucked up in some serious, shame-inducing way, I kept my hopes high by reminding myself that the day had to end at some point, it just couldn't go on forever. And even my daughter refused to understand the situation was just a technical glitch and no, we weren't poor, we weren't going to starve to death because mommy has no food money and would you please stop making a scene, I know you're doing it on purpose,
even when I called home to see if we had cash laying around but no one answered the phone and I had to leave my cart of groceries at the counter while I drove to my mother's house (braving the five million mph winds
that were threatening to knock down every street light and telephone pole) and dragged her back to the store with me so she could use her AmEx to pay from my freaking food, most food items being of the "I'm sick and I need comfort food" variety like frozen pizza and a chocolate coffee eggnog cake and some Ring Dings and thank jeebus I had some fruit in the cart so my mother didn't give me a lecture on how my kids were going to suffer from malnutrition, through all that I kept repeating the mantra, it's almost over. It's almost over. Groceries packed in car, mom dropped off, on our way home, where I would leave the putting away of the food and the making of dinner to the husband because the previous hour, topped with still feeling flu-ish and just having a miserable day in general, made me want to crawl into bed at 6pm.
So imagine my surprise and horror when I turned the corner onto my block and realized that the entire west side of my street (the side on which I reside, of course), was bathed in complete darkness. No street lights, no Christmas lights, not a single speck of brightness emanating from any of the houses. When I got out of the car, I noticed a peculiar yet familiar smell. Ah, I love the smell of a burning transformer in the evening. Smells like.....HELL!
This is what I get after I spent the last hour and most of the day combating all kinds of evil karma and twisty, knife-wielding fate? This is the thanks I get? It is times like this that I curse my atheism because it leaves me with no god to damn, no one to cry to about being forsaken. So I gave the finger to Mother Nature and brought the mostly frozen groceries into a mostly dark house (the husband had placed a few candles throughout) and shoved all of the cold food into a mostly getting warm freezer while I fought back bitter tears of self pity.
It's only 5:30 at this point. Of course, this being December, it's pitch black at 5:30. I make the suggestion that we all just go to bed. I think everyone looks at me like I'm crazy but I can't be sure because it's, well, dark. So we try to pretend it's just a normal day. DJ watches Shrek 2 on the laptop. Natalie tries to do homework by candlelight. Justin is trying his best to calm me down, as I am still fuming over the whole shame in the supermarket thing. He offers me the bottle of Jack Daniels. I decline. My rage, frustration and general flu-like symptoms will keep me feeling as though I'm on a three day crack binge, thanks anyhow.
The contentment of the rest of my family (including my sister and brother in law upstairs) lasts about fifteen minutes. Natalie can't concentrate on her homework because the flickering of the candles is distracting her and she keeps finding herself staring into the flames, getting sleepy....sleeeeeeeepy...so very sleepy. I snap my fingers and tell her to act like a chicken. She rolls her eyes. Do chickens roll their eyes? Maybe teenage girl chickens do.
The Shrek entertainment is over because the laptop battery is at a critical low point. Much like me. The house is cold. I'm hungry. We have no heat and no way to cook dinner because both our stove and our heat is run by electricity.
Now, I know you Florida people are thinking I can't believe she's complaining about being without power for a little bit, does she remember hurricane season?
I was HUNGRY. And COLD. And I tell you, if it wasn't for the little incident in the supermarket and the feeling like crap thing, I really would have handled this a lot better. Maybe I would have suggested a backyard campfire with roasted marshmallows for dinner and a few ghost stories. But as it were, I found myself instead drinking a Jack and warm Coke and staring out of the living room window.
Everyone across the street had lights. Bright, blazing lights in their kitchen and living room windows. Merry Christmas lights. Porch lights. Giant Santas glowing on the front lawn. They were mocking us. I just knew it. They had all gotten together and came up with a brilliant plan to make fun of our plight and so they all turned on every single piece of lighting equipment in and outside of their homes. They were in their houses, laughing at us, eating warm food and turning up their heat and taking hot showers. It was the their side of the street against ours. East side v. West side. And I was gonna pop a cap in their asses. So I devised a plan in which we would go into their homes, knock them all unconscious with blunt instruments and string extension cords from their homes to ours. We'd make them pay for mocking us with their electricity.
And so, standing there behind my curtain, I envisioned the lot of us from the East Siiiiiide (gotta say it like Cartman) running out into the street, decorated with war paint and brandishing torches, declaring war on our West Siiiiide neighbors. No Blood for Power!
Sigh. A futile fantasy, I know. My next best option was to stage a naked protest to the electric company in the middle of the street. We would stand there, stripped down and chanting slogans, until the LIPA trucks came and restored our side of the street to its rightful, lit up glory.
I harbored these fantasies - and even went so far as to fashion a makeshift torch - until 10pm, when the power finally came back on. Ah. Heat, warm food and hot water do so much to take one back from the frayed ends of sanity.
I went to bed at 10:10 and as I drifted off I wondered if maybe the previous night's dream about the supermarket wasn't an omen. Perhaps I should learn something from this whole episode. Let's see.....Ah, I got it. 1) Always keep the laptop battery charged because you never know when you'll need to have six people gather around a tiny screen to watch a movie you've all seen ten times. 2) Don't try to buy $144 worth of comfort food at once because bad food karma will get you. See, it was all fate's way of keeping from eating five frozen pizzas for dinner.
Yes, five hours without electricity. I am a wimp, I know.