Last Friday: We're in Austin, Texas, celebrating my wife's milestone birthday. (I'll let you do the math.) Whenever I'm out of town on vacation travel, I tend to lose touch with national news, but here we are having lunch at the Moonshine Saloon on Red River and everyone's buzzing about Hurricane Sandy. This is the first I'm hearing about it. I'm very well aware, after last year's Irene, that hurricanes can cause death, damage, and destruction. But this storm doesn't seem as scary to me as Irene, and I know why: It's because Hurricane Sandy is named after my sister!
Saturday: Still in Austin, but several of our friends are starting to bail. Flights might be canceled. Kids at home. Work on Monday. Yada yada yada. Wimps. The Birthday Girl and I stay, with a couple of hardcore friends. De-lish dinner at Guero's Taco Bar on South Congress. Cool live music at the Continental Club. And then a truly weird and wild scene at the Broken Spoke, "The Last of the True Texas Dance Halls." We're hootin' and hollerin'. The phrase "Nero fiddles while Rome burns" comes briefly to mind. ...
Sunday: No problem getting a cab to the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. No delay on our New York-bound flight. No problem landing at JFK. No problem driving across the Whitestone back to Connecticut. So much for being stranded all week in Texas.
Monday morning: Ricky and I drive down to the close-by beaches, Burying Hill and Southport, to see the "angry" sound, as reporters love to call it. True, the waves are kicking up a fuss, but we're not planning to swim, just look. On Sasco Creek Road we see a stream of people walking towards the beach, doing the same thing we're doing: gawking. Among them is a football dad I recognize. He's got a bottle of beer in his hand. It's 11 a.m. "Gotta start sometime," he says, by way of explanation. His wife adds, "He does this for every hurricane." Which gets me to thinking: Are we going to be doing this every year now?
Monday night: I don my favorite hurricane-wear ensemble, put together last year for Irene: bright yellow rain slicker; red-and-white bicycle helmet; miner's lamp for my head. Ricky and I step outside. It's getting pretty blowy out there, I'm not gonna lie to you. He takes care of business quickly; Ricky's not a big fan of storms. Back inside, we have no power or Internet, but we have a fire going, and it's pretty cozy.
Tuesday morning: A huge tree is down in Ricky's run! But Ricky's doghouse is still standing! The tree trunk missed it by a hair! Thank goodness! (The fact is, Ricky has never even noticed this doghouse, let alone set paw in it, but still . . .)
Tuesday afternoon: Still no Internet, and I'm getting a little grumpy. "For a Luddite who says he'd like to live in the 16th century, you're doing an awful lot whining," my wife observes. Okay, fine, but there's some blogging I really should be doing. I go over to our friends Rick and Susan; they're among the lucky 15 percent in town who never lost power. I catch up on my blogging and my email. Then, back to the fireplace.
Wednesday morning: No power. No internet. No Starbucks. I cancel the writing class I teach at Trinity tonight: My students, too, have been without power, and only a couple of them have been able to write anything. Thankfully, none of them has experienced any severe hardship, and everyone's safe. And for me -- it's a free day! The sun is peeking through. I think I'll take my dog for a nice long walk. And then I'll go for a run. As I said from the beginning -- it's hard for me to get too worked up about a hurricane named Sandy.
"The Home Team" appears every other Friday. See his blog, "Beagle Man," on the Westport News website, at: http://blog.ctnews.com/beagleman/ To reach Hank, e-mail him at DoubleH50@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter @BeagleManHank.