I have now surpassed any and all of my prior claims to absolute idiocy. Deleting all my research notes on my computer? Yup, that's dumb. Eating moldy food because I'm too cheap to turn on the lights and too lazy to check why the tabouleh tastes so weird? Yes, that's asinine. Running downstairs naked to fend off an intruder with a filing cabinet as my only weapon? Perhaps not my brightest plan. All in all, I think I have what any random observer would agree is a well-established track record of doing embarrassingly dumb things, so it is with a healthy dose of a mixed cocktail of emotions that I am about to tell you the following story.
Picture it: it's a Friday night, and because both my sister Umulu and I are unutterably gorgeous and extremely popular with boys, we're spending the evening making dinner and watching a documentary at Umulu's house. The previous evening, an enormous storm with two-inch hail and four tornados had passed through town, so among the many charming topics of conversation was a jolly recounting of many childhood traumas involving hurricanes and tornados in North Carolina. Also, we reminisced fondly about the storm last year that had all our friends apologizing for calling us pansies. Ah, that was fun, and isn't it nice that last night's storm didn't do anywhere near that level of damage? Oh, yes, chortle, chortle, let's watch the movie now.
So there we are, totally engaged in the movie, when all the sudden we hear some freaking loud thunder. Umulu pauses the movie. "What was that?" she asks. "Um, thunder?" I answer. But I answer with less than total confidence because while it certainly does sound like thunder, it's REALLY LOUD THUNDER, and what's more, it appears to quickly be drawing closer to our house. Louder and louder, closer and closer, and then Umulu's face goes pale. "Oh, shit, Cheasty, that's not thunder. That's a tornado."
And BOOM! Just like that, our old training kicked in. Out of the room with all the windows, grab some pillows and blankets as we run, slam shut all bedroom and bathroom doors, and the next thing I know we're kneeling in tornado-drill position, arms over our heads, facing the corner of the interior hallway to her house, holding hands and trying quietly not to panic as the sound gets even louder.
Then the sound gets marginally quieter. And then even quieter. And soon we can still hear it rumbling in the distance, but the danger seemed to have passed. "I'm going to go look outside and see what's happening out there," I whisper to Umulu, and, squeezing her hand, I crawl off through the darkened house for the front door. Which I open onto a perfectly normal street scene. A car drives by. A girl walks down the street with her dog. A band is practicing a screaming guitar solo a few houses down. True, the sky is weirdly leaden looking, but there's not so much as a leaf on the ground, nor is there the slightest hint of a breeze. Umulu creeps out behind me. "Umulu, there's not even any wind," I say, and we stare at the world outside the door in total mystification for a few moments longer. Then a lightbulb goes on over Umulu's head and she slaps her hand to her forehead.
"Oh, God, Cheasty," she laughs. "The Texas Biker Rally is this weekend."
Yes, folks, it's true. What we thought was a tornado was really just a whole hell of a lot of motorcycles making their way downtown. Sigh.