The last weekend of October is normally about trying not to eat all your Halloween candy before strange, disguised children can com to your door and beg for it. this year, though, it was about flashlights, candles, two-player Uno and extra socks.
Yes, my husband and I were caught in the the Halloween Snowpocalypse of 2011 (Read: An icy October snowstorm in 2011 that, combined with the weight of leaves still being on the trees, resulted in a number of broken trees and downed power lines leaving about 2.5 million homes without power.). At 9:30 our home went dark and the lights in our souls dimed a bit.
I knew exactly where to find the flashlights and the candles, we had warm clothes and blankets galore, and food was a non-issue. Unfortunately, once we were set up I started to notice the flaws in my planning.
Our living room was well lit and smelled like whatever the hell Yankee Candle thinks that mess smells like (Wedding Day and Rain something) but we were so very bored. Sure, I could read a book or use my Nintendo DS until the battery died and Husband could play with his Blackberry but only for so long. We’re so accustomed to being partially present during three different simultaneous activities that the responsibility of entertaining ourselves was oppressive.
I broke out my bag of novelty toys and we settled on playing Uno—by the rules, but with drinking. There was this awkward elephant in the room rolling his eyes at how lame we were. My survival kit did not include entertainment. We went to bed early and stayed in it as long as we could. We took long, hot showers, made an elaborate breakfast of spoilable food, and then stayed out all day long. I wasn’t mentally prepared for the part where we’re safe,comfortable, warm, and bored.
Now, I’m working on a secondary survival kit that will cover our Other needs as a team and individually.
There were a number tasks around the house I hadn’t realized needed doing and a number of things we were relying on being about to have in out lives. Small comforts like enjoying the Sunday the football game required a stage of idea generation that previously hadn’t existed. I bought a crank radio/flashlight/charger/siren.
There was house cleaning that hadn’t been done and in the dark it went from and eyesore to a straight up hazard. I feared Husband would fall over trousers on his way to his candlelit shower in the morning. I worried that the candles and the junk mail might hit it off on the coffee table when I wasn’t looking and whisk me of to an early grave. I did some light house keeping.
My paranoia about dirty dishes and foods left unorganized is boarding on general irrationality. I believe as soon as the lights are off all sorts of creatures, from ants and elves, come out and have hellish little parties with their infrared vision and disease encrusted feet doing everything from licking objects to defecating on the floor. Some organizing, dishwashing, floor cleaning, and took the trash right out.
But poor Husband was still bored—and now also a little lonely. This is where we play Uno with Jim and The Captain.
This we could have been doing (Yes, It is an understood so we’ll skip putting it on the list):
1. Hide and seek
Let’s be honest though, I’d have been scared. I was scared when I had to look around the bathroom in the dark—because if you spend too long in the dark with a mirror evil will see the light inside you and use it as a beacon to guide them out and into your life.
2. People say “talk,” like I need a special circumstance to talk to my husband. We talked earlier and now we’re on to Making Stuff Up.
I’m as gullible as a sheep, especially if Husband tell me something. Sometimes he needs to follow up and make sure I knew that last thing he said was a guess that he’d delivered with confidence.
How does Making Stuff Up Work? Well, you could base it on Two Truth and a Lie, or make it a card game, or tell each other stories and inject some lies in the telling to see if they catch you. Think of it as brushing up on your negotiating skills while your at it. If you can safely lie to a loved one, you’re on your way to getting what you want at a price you consider fairer that the person selling it to you.
3. Basking in the utilities we still had.
I took a long shower on Sunday evening. Not because I was dirty but because I was cold and bored. I hung out in that steamy shower reading labels and deep cleaning my pores. I would have washed my hair but then I’d have to wait the nine hours it takes for my hair to dry being even colder than I had been.
I made a breakfast of champions will all the eggs and milk and cheese we had. But why didn’t I think to have a Ice Cream Party!? Sure, it might have been because it was like thirty degrees out, but frozen treats can totally warm the heart given the opportunity.
I could have baked a Funfetti© Cake – no, I’d know why I have three boxes of that mess but I should have jumped at the opportunity to use it.
If I had a book and a clue and the sky wasn’t lit up like a fiery meteorite was coming to collect on Harold Camping’s rapture bluffs, we could have gone out and found us some constellations. That’s one of the luxuries of living un the burbs, isn’t it? Dag. Missed opportunity.
I have a veritable cash of audiobooks. Terry Pratchett; Science Fiction giants like Huxley, Asimov, and Scott Card; and even NPR’s Wait Wait Don’t Tell me. After a few hours of silence Husband would have gotten hip to the idea of some interesting noise even if he was also playing a crossword on his Blackberry.
6. Puzzles and brainteasers, generally, learning and testing knowledge.
Everything I don’t know is just a Google search away. Except when the power is out. I wanted to save the battery on my phone so I was making a list of things to Google later (Jefferson City is the capital of Missouri).
Our bathroom reader fell in the toilet and then we threw it away—such is the life of a book with so few shelf options—but it was filled with trivia and word problems that would have been perfect for such an occasion.
If anyone has other suggestions for coping with the less practical side of survival prep, please share because I’ve got a long harsh winter coming ‘round the bend.