thursday, 7 

thursday, 7

As God is my witness, I will never go without power again! Yeah, old Scarlett thought she had it bad just because the Yankees burned down Atlanta and her plantation fell into ruin and she had to live on dirty carrots, but then she never lived in Memphis in the aftermath of a storm like the one from which we are recovering. And while I won't copy The Commercial Appeal and pen a daily diary of what it was like for my family and me until we got power, here are just a few highlights, at least the few I can remember, from the ordeal. Day of storm: Wake up underneath a window that is breathing in and out, look out window and see what is going on, figure a tornado is in my front yard and that I will die, fall back asleep on the couch to die in peace. Wake up later, alive, find cat under bed, look around outside at the damage, and panic -- at the thought of drinking a cocktail with no ice, (a little later, of course). Try to be noble and take a shower in the dark and head for work. Whoa! Traffic is bumper-to-bumper like people are trying to evacuate the city as if John Ashcroft is running around naked in public. Go back home to dark house, fix cocktail before ice melts. Scratch work. Scratch head. Fix one more cocktail before rest of ice melts. Trek back out into mayhem to check on friend. Friend is frantically cleaning up broken potted plants and placing buckets in living room into which rain has been pouring. Scam artist tries to charge her a fortune to put a tarp on roof, which he says is missing many shingles but not enough for insurance to provide new roof. Offer to kick more shingles off. Friend's brother arrives and climbs on roof to find that indeed no shingles are missing. We try to kill scam artist but he retreats in scam getaway car. We go to bar where friend works. No power. We fix cocktails before ice melts and load up some food before it spoils. Day two: We now have lights, electricity, and computers at work on backup system but no air conditioning. Spend next three days working in office that's hotter than it is outside. All becomes foggy at this point. Begin falling asleep at red lights in middle of day. Read letter to the editor in The Commercial Appeal from woman angry because her wedding rehearsal dinner at Buntyn doesn't take place because they have too many other hungry people to feed. First reaction is, What a greedy, petty person. Second and more important reaction is total horror -- at the thought of having a wedding rehearsal dinner at a place where guests are asked if they want rolls or cornbread with their meal and if they want sweet tea or unsweetened tea. Heat getting worse and worse and still no power after four days. Day five: Contract full-blown narcolepsy. Ride around in car from place to place that has air, sleeping the entire way. Sleep through meals at restaurants. Have not had clean clothes for almost a week. Find home of friend with power, who is out of town and lets friends and me use house. Cook dinner for six and am found later passed out on tiny Victorian settee with legs dangling over edge and head on floor. Wake up and begin going from place to place that has air. Hear news of American soldiers killing Hussein's sons. Could not f-ing care less. Have totally forgotten war in Iraq other than the lies Bush told to get us there. Want air conditioning, clean clothes, and my cat to stop glaring at me like all of this is my fault. Air conditioning comes back on at office and I am now sleeping there. Drive by house 16 or 17 times a day to see if power is on, to no avail. The sight of my neighbor's open windows is like the red light on Birmingham's Vulcan that lets you know there's been an accident. Miraculously, on evening of day six, power at home is restored. Suddenly, the world is beautiful. Even my own shack is beautiful. The grass is greener. The tumbleweeds of cat hair blowing across the floor under the now-functioning air conditioner add "charm" to the room. I like everyone in the world except George W. Bush. And -- drum roll, please -- I can have ice! I feel sorry for the poor folks who still don't have power, except the woman with the wedding rehearsal dinner and hope her power never comes back on. In the meantime, there's reason to celebrate for many, and here is just a brief look at some of what's going on around town this week. If you feel like taking a little road trip, today kicks off the four-day Sunflower Blues & Gospel Festival in downtown Clarksdale, Mississippi, with performances by, among others, Floyd Taylor, Honeyboy Edwards, and Willie King. If you go, make sure to have dinner at Madidi. Back here at home, tonight's "Sunset Atop the Madison" on the rooftop of the Madison Hotel features live jazz by Pat Register.

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