Monday, March 15, 2010

THE (IM)PERFECT STORM

Once upon a time I used to live in an apartment above my parents home early in my marriage.  We had three young children at the time and it was the middle of summer when we had been warned about a possible tornado and big thunder storm.  We hunkered down in our little apartment with the kids asleep.  I remembered that long before that storm we always talked about what we would do in the event of an emergency.  You see, my parents home does not have a basement.  That's usually where you would go if a tornado were to hit.  Thankfully we lived in an area that it was very unusual for that to happen.  Our backup plan was to evacuate to our neighbor's home next door, the Braverman's.  This particular night we received a phone call from downstairs.  My sister Amy called and told us that if the storm gets really bad, we will all meet next door.  "Okay" I answered and hung up.  Did I forget to mention that we had a virtual stranger in our apartment that night?  My poor memory can't recall why there was a young lady sitting with us in our living room, but she was there and we barely knew her.  This is where the story gets interesting.  As we sat there conversing (somewhat awkwardly) with this girl, the storm continued to get worse and worse.  You could hear the wind whipping outside the windows and the thunder seemed to be right over our heads.  It was loud and intimidating.  Our apartment connected to the long upstairs hallway of my parents house and I remember windows being open because at some point during the evening, instead of calling us Amy made her way upstairs and down the long hallway to our apartment.  (her family was living in the house at the time)  When she opened our door she began to yell to us "GO TO THE BRAVERMAN'S...GO TO THE BRAVERMAN'S".  She seemed desperate and of course things seemed much more dramatic because the wind was SO loud coming through the open windows of the hallway that it was nearly blowing her over as she was trying to deliver this emergent message.  We could barely hear her as she screamed over and over..."GO TO THE BRAVERMAN'S".  I remember asking her if everyone downstairs had gone over yet.  "NO...JUST GO AND WE'LL MEET YOU THERE" she tells me.  Quickly (and panicking) we gathered up our small, sleeping children along with this virtual stranger and started heading for the door.  Steve went to start the car and then loaded us one by one.  The storm was HUGE and SCARY and I remember thinking that we were going to die trying to GET to the Braverman's.  After we were all loaded, we took the short drive down our driveway and into theirs.  Steve had me run to the door and knock.  The wind was whipping and the lightning was crashing.  I knock and wait.  No answer.  I knocked louder wondering why they weren't ready and waiting for us.  After all, I assumed they had been forewarned.  After the third or fourth desperate knock...a sleepy Mr. Braverman answers the door.  There I stood with my 3 year old daughter looking for shelter from the storm.  "My dad told me to come over...there is a tornado coming, we all need to get to the basement" I tell him.  He looks at me like I have three heads.  This time I speak louder and MORE desperate.  "Mr. Braverman...don't you understand?  We're all going to DIE unless we get to the basement.  The TORNADO is coming!"   He quickly ushers me in and Steve sees the green light and starts unloading sleeping children into my arms while Mr. Braverman starts gathering HIS sleeping (all 5 of them) children and wife to the basement.  Steve leaves the stranger girl with me and heads back to the homestead to help chauffeur the rest of the family to safety.  There I sat...in the basement with this neighbor family that we were friendly with, but not chummy with.  I kept reassuring them that we were in the right place...safe from that storm out there.  Besides...if my dad tells me to go, it must be bad, right?  It was awkward.  Nobody had called this poor family ahead of time to let them know we were coming.  I'm not sure that they were let in on our family 'back-up' plan of using their basement for such a time as this.  We sat there making small talk while I was patiently waiting for the REST of the family to show up.  5 minutes go by.  10 minutes.  Then 25.  I was feeling really uncomfortable and maybe slightly worried that no one else had showed up.  Not believing that I was actually being stranded, I continued to make excuses as to WHY the others hadn't shown up yet.  (can we say awkward?)  Finally I beg to use their phone.  I call home base.  "WHY aren't you HERE?" I ask.  All I hear is LAUGHING in the background.  Come to find out, Steve went home to get everybody else.  There was a slight misunderstanding.  Dad never ordered us to the Braverman's house and he wasn't going.  Therefore nobody else was going either.  But there I sat.  With my 3 small children AND the virtual stranger girl.  WITH the 7 Braverman's whom we had woken and rudely descended upon.  What was WORSE?  My husband was LAUGHING WITH THEM.  He abandoned me.  I politely excused myself....told them the worst of the storm was over, thanked them for the use of their basement and RAN out the door.  The End. 

12 comments:

Papa Don said...

I suspect that that wasn't THE END. I don't want to hear the words you had for Steve - but I can picture him doing that!

Jo Jo said...

My tummy hurts! Stop!

Trina and Jophie said...

OMGoooooooooooosh! ROFL! Mortified I would have been.....I HATE tornados by the way. Been in quite a few myself growing up and spent MANY a night/day in our basement. Now I just shake and shiver when we get those warnings because I'm now in a double-wide and could in now way get Jophie out of here in time to safety. When he was smaller yes but now...No...Spring is here and all those warnings are still to come...*Shivers*

ellen said...

I have one word for you: sitcom.

shirlgirl said...

That's quite a story and thanks for sharing. Very funny! Did the Bravermans ever speak to you again? What a story to tell their friends.

LL said...

oh MAN, you are lame! :)
Just kidding, this story makes me laugh so hard! Even better in person!!!

Jenny said...

Good Times at the homestead.
I wonder how the Bravermans retell this story?
(Remember that crazy neighbor lady who knocked on our door in the middle of the night and told us we had to wake our kids and run for the basement?!...)

Amy M. said...

I'm still laughing. It sounds like a Seinfeld episode. This sounds like a classic Hutchins story.

Jo Jo said...

My husband reminded me that the tension had been building all day because it was the anniversary of the 1952ish tornado that hit Worcester. The paper was full of pictures.

April said...

HILARIOUS!! I can just see it:) You CRACK ME UP!

Sojourner said...

This would make a good pilot for a new sitcom"Life at Ortons" ;-)Not the end"

Adam and Anya said...

RUDE!!!!!!! LOL! That's the WORST! I would have stayed in the Braverman's basement crying all night long!