You know that scene in The Princess Bride when Buttercup says to The Man in Black, "You mocked me once. Never do it again! I died that day." Remember? It's shortly before she pushed him down the hill into the Fire Swamp. When he reveals himself to be Wesley by screaming "Aaaaaaaaaaaaassssssssssss yooooooouuuuuuuuuuuuu wiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiissssssshhhhhhhhhh!"
Well, on behalf of Umulu and myself, I would like to claim that line as our personal motto today. Yesterday Ums came home from whatever she was out doing and said, "Whoa, dudes, there's a tornado watch for tonight." I guess if you haven't ever lived in a place where tornados and hurricanes tear you up every few years, you can be excused for not reacting to this news in electrifying manner, and Austin is full of people like that. Umulu and I, however, grew up in North Carolina, where tornados and hurricanes swept through every year or two, and we remember well the screaming winds, the trees crashing down. The convenience store a couple of blocks from our house that was completely destroyed, except for that one random rack of Wonderbread that somehow remained standing as if everything was normal. That shit is scary. And dangerous.
Umulu pulled up the storm on radar, and we watched it for a while, just to be sure it was headed towards us. Then we called friends we'd planned to go out dancing with, or over to houka bars with, and cancelled. Oh, the mockery.
"What? Why are you canceling?"
"Cause there's a tornado watch coming."
Guffaws of laughter.
"A tornado?! Are you KIDDING?! It's perfectly still and calm out here! What's wrong with you? People don't cancel plans because of TORNADOS!!"
Well, sucker, in my neck of the woods they do.
"Oh, well then, also I'm in my pajamas already and I need to spend the evening studying."
"Oh, all right, that's a better excuse."
The stupid thing was, we KNEW it was still and quiet, but DON'T THEY KNOW THAT'S RIGHT BEFORE WHEN THE STORM HITS!? How many nights did our family spend huddled in walk-in closets with blankets and flashlights and bottles of water and granola bars and all 500 dogs, just in case. At least five I can remember, and I know there were more beyond that. Mom would hear the tornado watch and fill up the bathtubs with water, unplug all appliances, extinguish pilot lights, and as the winds began to pick up she'd herd us all into the closet and make us sing songs or read stories to each other. Storms, when they're right overhead, and you can hear trees being uprooted or knocked over, and the wind is screaming and howling, are freakin' scary.
All mockery behind us, the evening proceeded fairly peacefully, and I was beginning to think maybe everybody else was right and Umulu and I were just paranoid. Then around midnight, holy shitballs. That storm hit hard. The thunder and lightning were simultaneous and SO LOUD, and then I realized Umulu was in the shower, so I jumped up from bed and screamed at her to turn off the water and get out of the tub. Just as I said it, a huge lighting bolt exploded over our house, and the power went out. Umulu screamed, Penata came bouncing out of her room like holyshitholyshitholyshit! But Ums and I knew what to do. We cracked the windows open, unplugged appliances, lit some candles, closed the bedroom doors, and we all sat in the inner hallway with flashlights, and waited for it to pass. This morning I went down to campus, and the three miles of road between my house and the university was absolutely wrecked. Trees are down, ripped in half, power lines lay on the ground every which way.
The good news is, I don't think anybody was killed, but here's an account of the destruction from the newspaper. http://www.statesman.com/news/content/news/stories/local/05/16/0516storm.html
To paraphrase, 70 mph winds, baseball-sized hail, 3-4 inches of rain, 20,000 without power. Not a hurricane, but front-page news for a town that never gets hit this hard.
I checked my email, and one of our friends, a Prime Mocker, if you will, had written us this morning, saying, "well, I guess that tornado thing was legit after all. oops!"
For the record, Umulu and I would like to say: "You mocked us once. Never do it again!"
(Now it's your turn: Aaaaaaaaaaaassssssss yooooouuuuuuuuuu wiiiiiiiiiiissssssshhhhhhhhhh!)