She’s Buying A Stairway to Heaven



   We’re old hands at this hurricane thing in Florida. As soon as a blip in the

tropics is born, we go into The Mode.  This includes cutting off your best friend

for a better spot in the gas line, stocking up on canned stuff you’d never eat

otherwise, buying batteries in bulk whether they fit your flashlights or not.

   Hauling home a dozen gallons of bleach is  mandatory. I  don’t know why we do this, because we’ve never used ours.  We buy it anyway.

   And when you live in the worst of all locations in our otherwise tropical

paradise—the Evacuation Zone—you give yourself plenty of time to find

a hotel room inland.

   Uh huh.

   Wilma was a long time coming.  She paused to the south and curtsied

for a while, and I made the first hotel reservation, patting myself prematurely

on the back for finding a spot at a chain known for actually providing

clean towels and soft toilet paper.

   She sashayed to the west, and  it seemed briefly as if she were

headed for a Mexican vacation.  I cancelled our reservation.

   She overstayed her welcome in formerly sunny Mexico

and headed back into the Gulf, twirling and staggering like she’d downed

too much tequila.  Would she fizzle? Would she head north?

   Just in case, I made another reservation.  This time at a place a notch

under the first. They promised there would be no fleas.

   By the time Wilma finally decided just where in Hades she was going,

an inch at a time, I’d cancelled and rebooked two more times and the

desk clerk at Fleas Ain’t Us was getting a little peeved.

   She was on her way, and the last reservation was at Cots Fer All.

Except the sign on the outside had the “er” missing. Prophetic.

   The winds were whipping madly by now and everything was battened

down but us. With my key in the ignition, Cots calls and informs me part of their

roof has just waved goodbye, and they’ll have to cancel.

   Sure. No problem.

   And ,my husband, the dog and me—we spent four hours together

on the bathroom floor ( which I’d remembered to scrub) with a mattress

over our heads because there was no room at the inn.  When it no longer

sounded like alligators on steroids chomping on the roof, I made it to

the window to investigate an especially awful thud.

   It ended up being my neighbor’s front steps, now a foot from my car.

   My husband starting singing “Stairway To Heaven”. I elbowed him, hard.

Next hurricane season, I’m climbing stairs to the plane that’ll catapult me

to New Jersey until it’s over.