Monday, April 23, 2012

The Coldest Winter Ever

It can get cold in Florida. I realize I've already lost a good portion of you with that statement, but it's true. Most of the houses I've lived in were built before the invention of insulation and had spaces around the windows and doors that let in gusts of arctic air, so you really notice when the temperature gets low. We also don't have a lot of cold weather clothes. Well, maybe some people do. On my first trip to Chicago I had one glove that I would turn inside out and switch back and forth depending on which hand was cold, sort of like a hobo Michael Jackson.

I think I've mentioned my post-college nighttime heating system, where I had an ancient space heater with a duct taped cord propped on a milk crate and a board about an inch away from my feet. That was dangerous but highly effective, and it was like a greenhouse in the Amazon compared to the Storm of the Century.

What was the Storm of the Century? Well, every couple years the weather will get weird for a couple days and local newscasters will throw the label around as frantically as national news throws around  Trial of the Century or whatever-Gate. But the specific one I remember was in the early '90s, a wonderful and magical time.

I was driving the band Spoke around on a mini-Florida tour over Spring Break*. It was pretty fun. The last night of the tour was in Sarasota, close to my parent's home in Bradenton. The day before in Miami most of us had gotten really, really sunburned. I was also pretty fevery from some sort of sinus infection or the grippe or smallpox or something.

Naturally, it being a punk show, the starting time of 11 really meant closer to 2, and by the time Spoke was over, I was done. I was a man, and a dude, but I was going home to sleep in my own bed that night, instead of trying to doze off on some cat-stained couch while Misfits bootlegs blared in another room. The other guys could pick me up tomorrow.

It was raining pretty heavily as I drove home, and the sky was a strange glowing purple color, but I didn't care. I was shaking with chills and I was going to sleep in my actual bed.

After about three hours of sleep my dad woke me up.

"You've got to move your car." 

The river had risen in the early morning and had flooded my car. It was close to coming in the house, pretty remarkable since we were 3 houses down from the actual water.

So I moved my car to higher ground, then spent a few non-sleeping, sunburnt, feverish hours moving furniture and ...I dunno, sandbags? No, we probably didn't have sandbags.

Proof that everything written on this blog is 100 percent true and not exaggerated at all.
The band picked me up in the early afternoon. The rain had stopped for the most part, but we had to dodge limbs and street signs falling in the road, then we saw a car explode on the side of the interstate. It was some real Mad Max shit. I was still struck with the brain fever in the back seat with the drums and possibly a couple other people. I can't remember. I do remember a long tunnel with light at the end of it. My Aunt Tiny was talking to me. It was nice.

We finally made it home. While the storm spared Gainesville for the most part, it brought an unseasonable cold snap and managed to knock out the power in our neighborhood. Since they were in a band, the other guys had girls who would put them up and vanished, deserting me as quickly as I deserted them the night before. It was still Spring Break**, so there weren't that many people around.

In fact, out of the nine people who lived in our house, only Dave Frank, my next door neighbor, was around. With no electricity and no roommates, it was very quiet. And cold. Very, very cold. We could see our breath inside, something Floridians should never experience. The only source of heat we had was an old voodoo candle I bought in Ybor City years ago. Dave and I huddled around the flickering candle watching the sun slowly set, knowing we would soon be dead, sort of like the final scene in The Thing.

We were half thinking about gathering up whatever wooden items we had in our apartments and building a fire in the oven (which probably wasn't even in the top five of bad ideas that we came up with in the year that we lived in that house), but it seemed like too much work. Plus, my Aunt Tiny was telling me about a wonderful place where I'd see her and all my old pets again, so it was sort of hard to concentrate.

Actually, after a few hours Dave called some friends we knew in the dorms and we spent the night hanging out with girls and watching cable, but I swear we were only minutes away from leaving two frozen corpses for our roommates to find later and feel really bad about.


** WHOOOOO!!!!!

1 comment:

jadebadger said...

So does Hobo Michael Jackson get excited about more than just the little boy's pants being half off at Ross? Like a sale on scarves?