It feels like forever since I posted anything. You know, I may be a tad addicted to this damn site. Oh well.
Instead of my recent fictitious (and fiction with elements of truth) writings, today I’m going to tell you a true story.
And a personal story.
I just heard you gasp.
I’ve long been a fan of Arcade Fire’s tune “Neighborhood 3 (Power Out)”, but to say that I hate it when the power is actually out is a huge understatement.
It’s like saying that Popeye kinda liked spinach. Or that Mark Foley was moderately interested in what his male interns were wearing. Or that I sort of don’t care if my references are topical or timely.
(Be thankful, I almost started this post with “Joanie may love Chachi, but I friggin’ hate power outages!”)
Since Arcade Fire are from Montreal, shouldn’t it be “NeighboUrhood 3?”
Okay, most of you that have been reading here for a while know the calm, cool and collected Peter. The one who thinks himself funny and charming. But, that Peter goes away when the power goes out.
I become Surly Peter.
And that dude is no fun at all. He is quiet, cranky and kinda stabby.
The North American Peter needs stimuli bombarding him at all times. The sounds of the TV, music playing and the warming glow of his gmail inbox on a computer screen. Otherwise the North American Peter is left alone with nothing but his own thoughts.
And you people have read those.
Monday evening, around 6:30, I was cleaning up my supper dishes. I had just finished talking to the ACN and was getting ready to watch Giada on the cooking channel. A blizzard was swirling outside. Suddenly the power went out.
My immediate hope was that it would come back on.
Being no stranger to power outages, I knew that if it didn’t bounce right back on, it could be a bit of a wait.
It didn’t come right back on.
“Crap! Eeeep. No Giada?!?!”
The being no stranger thing also meant that I knew exactly where the nearest flashlight was. So, I fumbled along in the dark to my bedroom – tripping over the edge of the bed – and found one. A quick peek out the window told me that the whole town was in darkness.
And that I was already sick of snow.
A call to the power company’s recorded message line told me that they didn’t expect the power to come back on until 11:30 pm.
I put the back of my hand to my forehead and wilted and fell onto my bed like a southern woman in an old movie.
What I actually did was say, “Crapfuckshitdamnboogerbastardhellpoooooooooooooooooooooooooop.” Or something.
So, I grabbed my flashlight and a hand-held electronic Yahtzee game (which I keep around for power outages) and plopped down on my bed. I taco’d up in my duvet and started trying to break the game’s high score.
4 minutes later I was bored out of my mind and feeling a bit…
“No tv and no computer make Peter…”
“Don’t mind if I do. Bloop blap nidsa kndelwkfm ew fcnedwkfle wfew”
I’m rambling again.
Six minutes into the siege of darkness and something had to be done…
So, I called an ex-girlfriend.
She knows about my issues with power outages. She is usually entertaining and energetic. Surely she could help me pass the time.
But, she made fun of me.
She even went so far as to tell me that there was a Lauren Graham special on tv that I was missing.
I am totally replacing her.
We got off the phone and I was once again left with the voices in my head.
For a while I thought about getting some new ex-girlfriends. Not girlfriends. Exes.
I figured why not skip all the relationship drama. The odds are that it wasn’t going to work anyway. So, why not jump ahead to the point where you have a friend and someone who’ll get your back (and not make Lauren Graham jokes while you sit alone in the dark!) And if you happen to have slide-back sex, then so much the better.
This idea made a lot of sense to me at that point.
An hour into the outage, I had a nap. Which was very rare for me. It probably lasted fifteen minutes. Two hours into the outage, I had another nap. It lasted a half hour or so.
So, it’s nine o’clock. I got a drink of water. I realized that I am going to miss “Heroes.” I swore a bit more. And then I just crawled under the covers and went to sleep.
A strange noise pierced the darkness and I was out of bed like a shot.
The power was back on!
I checked the time and saw that it was 12:45 am.
I realized that “Heroes” would be starting at 1 am on one of the western Canadian channels on my satellite dish. Yes, this was the first thought that I had.
I ran to the living room to set my pvr to record it. I grabbed the laptop and headed back to bed.
So, I was in my bed, my light was on, I was checking my e-mail and watching the end of a college basketball game. I couldn’t hear my own thoughts. It was glorious.
I read your blogs and chatted with friends on msn until… 3ish. Finally, I decided to go back to sleep.
Hours later my eyes opened…
Judging by the light coming in one either side of my blind, I could tell that it was 7 am. Or 8. Or 4 in the afternoon. I looked at my digital clock and it was blank.
The power was out again.
I screamed “Kaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahn!” skywards.
But, I was super pissed.
I climbed out of bed, cursed the snow, and grabbed some leftover chicken parm from the fridge. I tossed the cold chicken and a mittful of potato chips on a plate and had at it.
It wasn’t bad.
Another call to the power company revealed that the power wouldn’t be on until 11:30 am.
So, I brushed my teeth and then went back to the duvet taco and Yahtzee.
It was a long morning, my friends.
I remembered a time when snow days were fun.
At one point the sky cleared, and I stretched out on my bed and stared up at the clouds through my window. I tried to imagine things in the shape of the clouds. But, all my thoughts were angry. “Hey, that cloud looks like me kicking the ass of the person who makes the power company recording!”
By noon, the recording now said it could be 6 pm before the power would be back on.
I was almost numb when I heard that estimate.
I was eating a bowl of cereal and watching an episode of “Arrested Development” on the laptop, with the last of it’s battery charge. Just waiting for the screen to go black.
The backdoor opened and my father came in. He must have noticed that I was starting to turn into Marlon Brando in APOCALYPSE NOW.
“You know, I could go get my little generator and hook it up to your satellite receiver and tv so that you could at least watch tv,” he said.
“You’re an errand boy, sent by grocery clerks to collect a bill,” I replied.
“Fuck yeah, let’s make with the tv!” I was excited. And relieved.
I immediately thought about watching “Heroes.” Then I realized that the Micah kid in the show could have totally fixed the power.
Two minutes later the power came back on.
It’s like the very threat of the generator kicked it into gear.
So, I went around the house turning on TVs and computers… and a blender for some reason.
But, I wasn’t completely at ease. I knew that at any point, the load could become too much for the system and the power could go out again.
As each hour pass
ed, I became a little more relaxed. Still, even a slight dimming of the lights would nearly give me a stroke. I am doing better today. So far.
I wonder if I can sue the power company for giving me post traumatic stress disorder.
I also wonder if I would still hit “publish” if I re-read this.
Probably best not to find out.