Eleven days after our date with Sandy, the electricity, heat and light have returned to our humble home. Being in the cold and dark, while not a catastrophic experience by the standards set by the monster storm, was an uncomfortable one. Here are some things I have learned that may stand you in good stead if you are ever similarly afflicted:
. Guys, get over it. There is always someone who has a bigger generator. I, of course, don't have one. I guess this speaks volumes. Relax, the annoying neighbor with the biggest, loudest generator whose house is lit up like a Royal Caribbean liner will not declare himself War Lord of the block until the 25th day of the outage.
. After the sixth day when asked by your spouse why we don't have a generator, the excuse "Because I don't want to stand in the gas line" takes on a selfish ring.
. It takes a full tea kettle ten minutes to boil on a covered Weber gas grill turned up to the highest setting.
. Don't grab the metal handle with your bare hand because this will result in injury and a dented kettle.
. A dented kettle still takes ten minutes to come to a full boil.
. Don't dry your towels on the hood of said grill while boiling your water. Some snarky neighbor is sure to ask if you have resorted to burning your towels for fuel.
. You don't have to put things in the refrigerator, if the temperature in the kitchen is 45 degrees.
. The previous lesson is useless because your wife will throw everything in the refrigerator out. The pickles, Hon? Really? Aren't they...well...pickled? The ketchup went too, although it is has been scientifically proved that ketchup is immortal.
. A cold shower at home is better that a hot shower at the Y. If being naked in a men's locker room with naked children other than your own makes you feel like a participant in the Penn State athletic program, stick with the cold shower.
. Unless you eat Ramon noodles, don't buy a cabinetful of them when stocking up for the storm because you will always find something you would rather eat, even the dreaded rice cakes your wife loaded up on.
. Andersen's First Law of Thermodynamics: the temperature outside will always go up thirty degrees as soon as the heat comes back on.
. Head band flashlights are the greatest invention since the collapse of the infrastructure. We used ours for reading, navigating the house, taking the garbage out, and a host of other activities. However, leaving them on during intimate tete-a-tetes can cause migranes. Mine even had a red flashing setting that I used to alert my wife that I was feeling peevish.
. Having no internet did not materially affect my ability to access Open Salon because I couldn't get on even when I had it.
. The most annoying neighbors will always get their power back first and stop by to see how you are doing and to cheer you with how much they enjoyed their roast beef dinner and hot shower last night.
. It is possible to charge your iPad on your car charger, but you have to drive as far as Baltimore to accomplish it.
. If you awaken in the middle of the night and can see nothing because there is no light, can hear nothing because all the sounds of modern life have gone away, don't panic. You have not died, it is just sensory deprivation.
. Beware the spousal meltdown. Our's occurred on the tenth night of the outage. I knew I was in trouble when as we drove through town after dark on our way back from visiting a relative in the hospital, we noticed all the lights in town were on. "Please, God, let our's be on too....please, God, let our's be on too," my wife murmured over and over while rocking side to side. Of course, our house was dark. Our next door neighbor was gleaming like a beacon of righteousness, and we and the ten or so houses beyond were as black as guilt and sin. When we got in to our frigid,dark house, she sat in her chair with her coat on, wrapped in a comforter and wearing the hood from my down coat. Suddenly, she started stamping her feet and shouting: "I can't take it anymore!! Why don't we have a generator?"
I didn't have an answer.