Who Needs A Generator?

Last night was the highlight of my weekend – we had heat. Like many of my neighbors here in Pennsylvania, nor’easter Storm Riley knocked out electricity from Friday until Sunday. No electricity also meant no heat, no TV and no internet. My friends on LBI, NJ, kept their eyes on the rising tide from the pounding surf and the damage was minimal.  Heaven knows they more than paid their dues from that madwoman Hurricane Sandy’s destruction.

My cell worked during the outage but my husband gave me “strong looks of encouragement” not to check Facebook since it gobbles up our data. Out of concern for my “300 plus friends,” someone who looks like me still “checked” regularly. Seriously, it was the longest time we had gone without news, heat and electric since our children were in preschool and I cooked our meals in the fireplace camper-style. Please, don't get me wrong; basically, even though I'm the daughter of a Marine Sgt., and can roast a hotdog on a stick over an open fire during a storm, I'm a wuss. My husband? He’s a tough guy.  He has outfits for everything: green T-shirts for gardening, denim shorts for car washing, leather for just looking cool.  But when a nor’easter strikes? Man, he’s Paul Bunyan strutting around in his red Woolrich plaid shirt and a pair of black 505 Levis.  Me? I’m dressed like the Michelin Man because it’s only fifty-four freaking degrees inside. Sheesh.

I think we actually had cabin fever this weekend. Seriously, it’s a true condition. Ask any young mother with two children under five or any wife over sixty with, oh, don’t get me started!  People confined indoors too long absolutely get squirrelly. They start saying the same things over and over like, “Do you know where the (fill in the blank) is?” or “Have you seen the (fill in the blank)?” or “What time is lunch?”  The constant repeating is maddening, "Good thing I bought this generator, don't you think, Mary Jane?”  (How about after the tenth time you asked me it seems less great.)

“Well,” I said, “that Home Depot portable generator only heats a small space.  How will it reach into the kitchen so this beautiful old pioneer wife of yours can fire up the stove burners and be warm herself?  I don’t want you to go all grouchy on me when you don’t get your vittles!” To myself I mumbled (and it offers an excellent view of the thermometer on the wall that shows the temperature dropping like the ball in Time's Square on New Year's Eve.) But, I grabbed a match, lit the gas stove, stirred the chilli, and yanked up my big girl Michelin’s. I also tried to be more positive and use my imagination to let my mind float away to an ocean view in Aruba. Ah. This image immediately provided a splendid backdrop for a husband and wife dialogue that went like this:

Husband: You know, Mare, some people have a generator for their entire house now.

Wife: What? Was that an option for our home?

Husband: Yes. But it’s too late now.

Wife: Wait, you can actually heat your whole place with a bigger generator with just the flick of a switch?

Husband: Yes, but it's really costly and not necessary unless, of course, you have a little baby.

Wife: Well, I'm a little baby. We need to get it. Are you sure it’s too late to get it?

Husband: Yes, it’s way too late. (Mind you, I'm now closely watching his big brown eyes as they dart and shift all over the place.)

Wife: I can check on this myself you know.

Husband: Silence

Wife: Well, I'll just go through the refrigerator and freezer now and see what’s spoiled. Oh, too bad all that perfectly good food was wasted. I hate to throw food away when people go hungry; it’s a sin. And that money spent on replacement food?  It would have been a great down-payment on one of those ginormous generators you've been praising to Mt. Olympus these last three days of fifty-four degrees in our house.

Now, a normal wife, a sane wife, would have gone about her teeny-weeny chore in a nice quiet manner tossing her little basket of food this way and that humming a happy little tune like “Oh what a beautiful morning, oh what a beautiful day, I’ve got a wonderful feeling, everything’s going my way.” But no, this wife likes to point out each perceived misstep of not having a bigger generator in a voice above normal in volume and tone when she says good-bye to the food gone bad! "So long mayo; hit-the-road dulce-de-leche ice cream; hasta la vista, baby flounder filet; ciao homemade dear Angelina meatballs."

But suddenly I stopped my childish behavior after my husband announced that he had just heard from one of our neighbors (one with a huge full-house generator) that another nor’easter was on its way this very week. Wow, how fun! Now, I’m strategically wondering just how far I should push Paul Bunyan to get my way.  That’s when I looked over at him fiddling with the sealed gas fireplace that he just figured out how to open and make work without electricity. Amazing, just amazing. I sighed and smiled. “Dick, you’re a genius. You figured out how to keep us warm right before I died of hypothermia and I know you’ll take care of us during the next nor’easter, too, if for no other reason than to have me cook you a nice hot meal. I guess that makes us a pretty good team and, hey, I’m using the money we saved on a bigger generator and booking a lovely soothing facial instead so at least I’ll look good in my Michelin suit.”


Published March 15, 2018 in The SandPaper