There are three long seasons in the United States, which inflict misery upon Americans for most of the year, and they are, in order of increasing misery:
1. The PMS season.
2. The baseball season.
and, last but certainly not least –
3. The hurricane season.
PMS is an acronym which stands for “Pardon My Spouse”, and doctors tell us that this is an actual medical condition in which the inner eardrum of a wife is warped, tricking her into thinking that her husband is always saying the “wrong” thing. Symptoms include a “bowing up” of the shoulder area and a repeating of the phrase “What’d you say? You know I’m PMSsing, right?” (The southern variant is to drop the “g” to form PMSsin’.)
HUSBAND: Good morning.
WIFE: What’d you say? You know I’m PMSsing, right?
SOUTHERN HUSBAND: Could you hand me volume “G” of the encyclopedia behind your bowed up shoulders?
SOUTHERN WIFE: What’d you say? You know I’m PMSsin’, right?
Gradually, the situation gets worse and worse, until the husband either voluntarily banishes himself to the yard, or stays inside to be beaten with a stick. Very quietly, a few doctors will tell you that they don’t think there is an actual beginning or end to the PMS season, but most doctors generally agree that the season begins on February 15th and lasts through December 24th, with brief intermissions on Father’s Day and a husband’s birthday. But the misery inflicted by PMS season pales in comparison to the misery inflicted by……
THE BASEBALL SEASON. Sports analysts tell us that baseball is a real sport, the “purest of sports” actually (in the same way that wheat germ is the “purest of snacks”). Baseball was invented by a man named Abner Doubleday, who was banished outside by his PMSsing wife. Cleverly, Abner managed to confiscate his wife’s “beating” stick and invented an outdoor game to pass the time until his birthday, when he was allowed indoors again. Baseball combines elements like knuckleballs, infield flys, ground rule doubles, balks, steals, bunts, loopers, and dribblers into a contest so exciting that the stadium has to periodically blast organ music at the crowd just to keep them awake. The crowds at baseball games are so miserable and drowsy that they don’t even make good graffiti in the bathroom stalls – SMITH WASZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ or FOR A GOOD TIME, CALL ME AND GET ME THE HECK OUT OF HERE! Like PMS, baseball does not seem to have a clear beginning and an end, it just seems to “exist”. Scientists have noticed that around February or March “pitchers” and “catchers” seem to appear out of nowhere and start playing catch. Someone will immediately report this sight to the local paper, which will present the following headline: PITCHERS AND CATCHERS HAVE REPORTED FOR DUTY, to which someone will then remark: “Wow, is it baseball season already?” The ending of baseball season is never clear either, because in the fall popular sports like football start and overshadow baseball. At some point around Christmas, however, someone will notice that the pitchers and catchers are no longer throwing the ball around, and it is then assumed that baseball has drawn to a close for another year. But if you think that the viewers of baseball are miserable, just wait until you see the participants of………..
THE HURRICANE SEASON. If you have ever been banished to the couch by a PMSsing wife, or become tired of wiping drool from your mouth watching baseball on TV, undoubtedly you have stumbled upon a weather channel and their coverage of hurricane season. (In fact, as we speak, the first storm of 2013, Andrea, is cutting across Florida and heading towards the East Coast.) “Hurricanes” (from the prefix hurri-, meaning “What the?” and the suffix, -cane, meaning “Heck”) are large, nasty storms that originate in the balmy ocean waters along the equator. They spin around and accumulate energy until they slam into either the United States or some banana republic somewhere.
The weather people actually get quite excited when hurricane season officially starts on June 1. It means that they can shed their parkas and quit talking about “lake effect” snow in Buffalo, slap on some suntan lotion and try some barbeque in the good ol’ South. As the weather people talk excitedly about the path of the next storm, you can pick up some of their terminology. You will also learn that there are 3 basic parts of a hurricane:
1. THE NAME. This is probably the most important part of a hurricane. Metereologists will tell you that they didn’t really feel “in touch” with hurricanes until they started naming them back in the 1940s. The names for each hurricane season are alphabetical and are carefully selected years in advance. Interestingly, you can see the changes in popularity of certain names through the years reflected in the selection of hurricane names. The Gertrudes and Thelma Lous and Billy Joes back in the day have given way to the Chloes and Kaitlyns and Coopers of today. Recently, an attempt was made to diversify the name base by adding new names, such as the “Our Gang” series and the “Dead Dictator” series, but these just didn’t seem to catch on. The names of really bad hurricanes like Katrina and Sandy are permanently retired from the list, I guess so that they don’t bring up bad memories in the future. My name, David, was retired in 1979, after I apparently kicked some major booty in the Caribbean, although I could swear that I was playing at my friend’s house across the street at the time.
2. THE EYE. This is the clear spot right in the center of the hurricane which, incredibly enough, has no wind. In the past, the eye’s calmness would fool many people. The wind and rain would stop, and people would resume playing baseball, only to be blown to flinders twenty minutes later when the rest of the storm came across. Though the eye is calm, the strongest winds and rain are just beside the eye. This is due to the fact that the hurricane picks up a great many objects on its path – houses, dumpsters, chihuahuas – which irritate the eye. The hurricane then attempts to flush out the irritants with 20 inches of rain and 100 mph winds.
3. THE WIND. The velocity of hurricanes is categorized by the Ashford & Simpson scale, the ultimate barometer of hurricane “funkiness”.
1. SOLID – 74 to 95 mph winds; Some damage; May actually cause baseball games to be exciting.
2. DEF – 96 to 110 mph winds; Baseball canceled due to the “infield flying” rule; Indoor activities only.
3. SERIAL – 111 to 129 mph winds; Dude, its getting serial all up in here!
4. SUPERFREAK – 130 to 155 mph winds; The kind you don’t bring home to mother.
5. BAD TO THE BONE – 156 mph and above; I don’t care how much your wife is PMSsing, don’t go outside!
LOCAL WEATHER REPORTER: Hurricane Sylvester was downgraded to SUPERFREAK once it hit the coast, but it is still expected to be plenty DEF even 24 hours from now.
As our weather friends debate the strength and paths of hurricanes, you will also be introduced to two more very important terms – ESSENTIALS and GOVERNOR. ESSENTIALS are those necessary items for living during and after a hurricane hits, i.e. various brands of Doritos. If the power goes out, you may also need a FLASHLIGHT to tell which type of Dorito that you are eating. If you choose the wrong kind, you may have to quench the burn with plenty of BOTTLED WATER. The GOVERNOR (Indian for “the great white father you never knew you needed”) is the head of a State and is typically seen only during election cycles. But citizens that live in states that border hurricane-infested waters see their governors quite often. It is a well known fact that the governors of hurricane states must memorize all of that year’s hurricane names, as well as the Ashford & Simpson scale, prior to taking their oath of office. They also must practice their “concerned” look, to show that they really do care about all in the path of the hurricane. The concerned look became an important tool for governors after the Hurrican Katrina debacle, in which Louisiana Governor Ray Noggin was late to a Katrina press conference because he was playing Candy Crush in his office.
I watched the Governor of Florida on TV during this week’s Andrea crisis, and his concerned face was very convincing. He was flanked on one side by another equally concerned man and on the other side by a sign language interpreter. (Did you know that the symbol for hurricane and PMS are the same?) The Governor was telling the people of Florida the annual safety tips for hurricanes; apparently, he doesn’t believe that Floridians remember them from last year, or the year before that or the year before that. But you can’t say he doesn’t care!! And in a crisis, that paternal feelings that emanate from your governor can mean everything. I couldn’t hear everything he had to say, because I was standing in the back yard looking through the living room window over my PMSsing wife’s shoulder, but this was the gist of it:
1. If you feel that you must evacuate Florida during the hurricane, remember that the rest of the United States is to the north and Cuba is to the south.
2. Avoid direct contact with the actual hurricane and do not look directly into its eye.
3. Stock up on essentials. Publix has BOGO on Doritos right now. Make sure that all houseplants are truly edible.
4. Board up your windows with plywood to protect your family from flying glass. Paint messages on the boards like “Go Home Andrea” and “NO, Andrea, NO”. (This tip is mainly just a morale builder. Hurricane literacy is well below the national average.)
5. I would invite you to stick out the hurricane at the Governor’s mansion, but if I do that, you will come jump in my bed any ol’ time a thunderstorm comes.
6. On Candy Crush, when a Jelly Fish and Striped Candy are swapped, it will transform into a Striped Jelly Fish leaving the game board and return with 2 more Striped Jelly Fish that will turn regular candies at random into Striped Candies and detonate them all at once. If it lands on an obstacle candy along with the jelly on it, it will clear the obstacle candy and the jelly at the same time.
These are just a few tips to get us through another miserable hurricane season together. Now, if you get caught at a baseball stadium with your PMSsing wife during a hurricane, you’re on your own. But I will give you my best “concerned” look.