As I write this, it is 54 degrees in my kitchen. Leon made quick work of our heat pump and has left us all arguing over who gets to sleep with the dog tonight.
Fortunately this problem only affects the first floor right now and the other units seem to be holding up against this unprecedented polar vortex/ice storm that has suddenly earned a name. Regardless of anything, it seems everyone in our area fared far better than those poor frozen slobs in Birmingham who were all stranded in cars, schools and stores. I heard about one group ice-bound in a Rite Aid overnight, which sounds awful and cool at the same time. No doubt plenty of bottles of Rex & Goliath wine were downed, and the crowd may even have gotten rowdy enough to bust into the pharmacy at some point.
Leon — as this storm has been dubbed by meteorologists who have been determined to anthropomorphize weather phenomena other than hurricanes in hopes of gaining more ratings — is my first ice storm. Certainly when I lived in D.C. there was snow and ice, but this is the first time I, and I’m sure many of us, have actually been iced in to the point where grocery stores, gas stations and — gasp! — even bars have closed.
It takes damn near a nuclear incident for bars in Mobile to close, so you know this is unusual. Still, I’m not so sure giving this storm a human name is really necessary. I know most of the meteorologists in this half of the country have been able to go without their Viagra for the past few days, but applying a tough-sounding name to freezing rain and ice seems a bit much. Birminghamers (ites?) might disagree with me, especially after waking up on a cold tile Rite Aid floor with a Rex, Goliath and Lortab hangover, but Leon couldn’t stack up to even a run-of-the-mill tropical storm for danger, disruption and overall ability to cause people to lose their minds.
While it is true some in our area did their best to freak out and wipe out grocery stores and gas stations prior to the freeze, I’d imagine most of us just picked up an extra six-pack. And it also just doesn’t seem like there was the kind of let’s-all-get-drunk-before-we-die attitude that comes with a Cat 5 bearing down on you. Ice doesn’t really hold a candle to a 25-foot tidal surge.
Don’t even get me started on the lawlessness either. Leon presented pretty much zero opportunity to shoot a looter. Where’s the fun in that? I’d imagine even members of the criminal element aren’t fond of freezing cold and are also aware trying to run away from a crime scene on ice is pretty tough without the proper footwear.
I don’t want to completely downplay Leon’s effects, as I’m sure many people have been inconvenienced. It does suck having to drive slowly through town, and using your oven to heat the kitchen is bound to do something really bad that will only be discovered during medical tests 20 years from now.
Without a doubt, though, the worst Leon has wrought upon us is having the kids piled up in the house for three straight days with almost nothing to do. After watching four straight hours of Nickelodeon, even I buckled, walking out into the yard, balling up my fists and screaming, “Damn your cold, black heart Leon!!!”
But it’s still nothing like having to board up the house, field a thousand panicky calls from parents, in-laws and spouses, spend days or weeks in a 2,000-degree powerless house listening all night for someone trying to sneak through a broken window to get your flat-screen — all the while longing for something as inane as Nickelodeon to keep the kids occupied.
Leon — if that is what you insist upon being called — yes, you screwed us up some and made life less comfortable and forced me to buy an Amish stove at a drug store, but you’re going to have to do better than that to earn a place alongside Fredric, Ivan, Katrina or even Georges, for that matter.
Frankly you’ll be nothing more than a bad memory as soon as the kids go back to school Friday and I block Nickelodeon from our television.