Getting the wake-up call
LORI OSIECKI ILLUSTRATION
My sister-in-law Gloriosa is pg again. She blames Mayor Mitch Landrieu. Not that he done the deed. But she says it’s his fault.
I got to explain. Gloriosa controls her life with a iron fist. Her flowers bloom on schedule; her garden don’t dare sprout weeds; her canned goods are alphabetized, and her children, exactly one boy and one girl, were each born in April, when the weather would be perfect for their future birthday parties. Her family was complete.
Even though she is saying that #3 will round off the family, whatever that means, everybody who knows Gloriosa realizes that this is a my-gawd-how-did-that-happen blessed event.
I know how it happened.
Remember back in August, when we had the flood, and then four days later, when things had started to dry out, everybody in New Orleans was catapulted out of bed at 3 a.m. because our phones was blaring like foghorns gone berzerk?
I myself grabbed my cell phone and saw a message I couldn’t read, and when I snatched up my glasses, the message disappeared, so I was wide awake with my glasses on and my eyes bugging out.
I looked out the window and saw no rain, no tornado, no flash flood, so I decided that it must be a boil-water advisory. I dumped out the water in the glass on my bedstand and poured me some wine instead and went back to sleep.
I found out the next day, from a lot of grouchy people drinking a lot of coffee at CC’s, the message was from Mayor Landrieu, who acted out of “an abundance of caution.” It said, “S&W Board reported power outage causing lower pumping capacity for East Bank of New Orleans, west of industrial canal. In the event of rain, move cars to high ground and stay off roads…”
So some pumps weren’t working. In New Orleans, we all know that if the pumps don’t work, we flood. But what we don’t know is which way is “west.” We don’t use that kind of language here. We say “Uptown side.” Or “below.” Nothing complicated like “west.”
But like I said, lots of us never read this message. My mother-in-law Ms. Larda thought it was a very loud text. She had been dreaming about her old Uncle Fogarty in Texas, so she assumed he finally croaked. She immediately texted condolences to his wife, Mabel. Mabel woke up to the “ping” on the phone by her bed, looked at it, and texted back, “Fogarty alive and snoring.”
Ms. Larda texted, “A miracle! Thank the Lord!” and went back to sleep.
Mabel stayed awake.
Meanwhile, my brothers-in-law Leech and Lurch, who live on the other side of Ms. Larda’s double, were sneaking in late. They lost their key, and were trying to climb in the window when the phone blared. They thought Ms. Larda had installed a burglar alarm, so they spent the night in their car.
My friend Awlette had cleaned up floodwater inside her house, and was sleeping in a bed raised up on cinder blocks, in case it happened again, when the message blasted her awake, and disappeared. She couldn’t decide whether to crawl under the bed, in case a Korean missile was coming, or climb in it, in case it was a flash flood. Finally she climbed back in and pulled the covers over her head.
Gloriosa and her husband Proteus assumed it was the Koreans. Gloriosa then leapt to the conclusion that it was probably the end of the world. Proteus saw his chance, and told her if it was the end of the world, they might as well go out happy. So they got happy. And they did not use an abundance of caution.
She ain’t had the test to see what sex the baby is, but if it’s a boy, her husband wants to name him Flash. Evidently Kim Jong Un is not an option.
Anyway, I got some advice for the new mayor: Don’t send no disappearing messages at 3 a.m. But if you do, tell us which way is west.