I was out of town working on my high level risk assessment management instrument, commonly known as a slot machine button. A storm hit on the day I left that some experts called a micro-burst, others a mini-tornado, and the natives, a big ol’ blow.
From what I gleaned by the constant cell phone interruptions while attempting to expand my investments, the storm that descended upon “Diablo Drive” was sudden and violent. It ripped up massive trees, damaged houses and gave vacationers a new respect for the power of Mother Nature. It was a gentle breeze compared to the technological cyclone that ensued.
We arrived home at ten Saturday morning. I immediately sensed a dark cloud of consternation as I walked out into the kitchen and saw the sister distributing dishes across the counter like she was dealing cards. I approached cautiously.
“What’s going on?”
“Oh, not much. Mourning the loss of technology. Did you realize the kids can’t read? All that time and effort for a top notch education and they can’t read a damn book. They don’t know how to dry hair with a towel, either. Oh, and half of your garden is now on the neighbor’s door step. I managed to catch your gazing ball on its flight to the village.”
“Jeez. Quite a storm, huh? Where is everyone?”
Dead silence. The sister sometimes goes into a trancelike state before answering a loaded question. She slammed the remaining pile of dishes on the counter, rolled her head back, closed her eyes, and meditated for a few minutes.
“Well, let’s see. Your niece is working. I believe she requested fourteen hour days. I have no idea if your nephew is even on the planet because the phones are still down. Your eldest grandniece thinks I am a maniac. The middle child might be upstairs slitting her wrists, and the little guy was sobbing under his bed, last time I checked. The bird can’t stop convulsing, Trouble stopped lifting his leg and started peeing on the floor because he won’t go out, Milo hasn’t left his tube since Thursday afternoon, and Goddam could be in Oz for all I know. And how was your vacation?”
Luckily, I am able to recognize those loaded questions. I told her I’d better go upstairs and unpack. She said, “Watch your back.”
I opened the middle child’s bedroom door.
“Hi, hun. Whatcha doing?” A head turned, much like Linda Blair’s 360 degree rotation in the Exorcist. She seemed to speak in tongues, spittle flying from her grotesquely distorted countenance. I closed the door, wondering if I should jam a chair underneath the knob for a few days.
I heard some soft whispering coming from the little guy’s room, and opened his door. There, spread-eagled on the floor, was the eldest, gently coaxing the little guy out from under the bed. She gave me the exaggerated sigh, and violently motioned for me to get out. Shortly after I finished unpacking, the eldest came into my room, flopped on my bed and said,
“Well, I hope you had a nice time while we were up here living in the Dark Ages. Do you know what your middle grandniece did? She cut the neck and arms off of my $80 ski wear because she was bored and wanted a tank top to wear if she ever got invited to a friend’s house again, but she probably never will because she can’t get on FaceBook, and her friends will think she hates them.
“Your grandnephew is convinced that lightening struck him in the middle of the night and has caused his tooth to fall out. He’s never coming out from under his bed again as long as he lives. Gram hasn’t seen “The Today Show” for four days, Maxi is missing, and Mom packs a suitcase before she leaves for work each morning.”
My head was spinning. This is what it had come to. Technology had stealthily crept into our lives and so totally and mercilessly wrapped itself around us that we were helpless to function civilly without it. We are hopeless victims of technology, the absence of which turns brother against brother, and could quite possibly cause mothers to eat their young.
Somehow by the grace of God, we have survived these four days. I like to think my calls to the power and cable companies might have hurried things along. I may have exaggerated our circumstance a bit when I explained that I was dependent upon an iron lung, the sister was a schizophrenic barely hanging on to her sanity thanks to daily phone calls from her shrink, and the kids were all appearing on the Disney Channel and it was our dying wish we be able to view them.
I was told I would be subject to prosecution to the fullest extent of the law if in fact it is subsequently determined that I do not meet current qualifications for a “hardship” repair. Trust me, I’ll chance it.