There once was a nice man named Kirk.
In whose house was a smell not so pert.
He soon saw his freezer
was unplugged and disease-ridden.
Oh, the bugs! The smell! How it hurt!
"Here is a home owner's tip for you," my brother-in-law recently wrote in an e-mail. "When going to the basement for a tornado siren, do not - and I seriously mean do not - unplug one's chest freezer in order to plug in a radio and then not plug the freezer back in."
Seriously. I cannot make this stuff up.
But let's back up a bit.
It all started with a storm. Those late-spring busters that haunt the Midwest each year, producing hail, torrential rains and tornadoes by the dozen and sending mobile home owners and television weather gurus into a tizzy.
It was during one such storm that I decided heading to the basement was the best recourse. The storm had been dropping tornadoes for about 50 miles across the state, and the sky had taken on that nasty green color that screams, "Tornado coming!"
So I quickly grabbed the essentials - weather radio, water, double fudge chocolate cake, tequila and Chaser, wonder mutt of West Edwards Street.
Our three-year-old son was with his grandparents, so I confess to being happy that they would have the particular joy of a panicked child that evening and not me.
Hey, I'm only human.
I headed to the basement, plugged in the weather radio, plopped on the couch, poured a shot, turned on the television to follow the storm's progress, grabbed a fork and dug into the cake. Come on, Tornado. Bring it on.
But, wait, I thought with fork midway to my mouth and chocolaty goodness just hanging there. Something was missing.
My brain clicked into action.
Dog? Nope, she was here. With her head buried in the couch. All that was visible was the long-fringed, strawberry blonde tail trailing out from between two cushions. It twitched with each clap of thunder, so I assumed she was still alive.
I snorted. My protector.
I thought some more. Looked around. Then realized...Oh, yeah.
In my panic I dropped the fork and - unfortunately - the chocolate cake. Which apparently was the only thing able to get the dog out of the couch because her Jedi-like intuition sensed the disturbance in the Force. She exploded out of the sofa and snapped up the cake before it hit the floor.
She may have the heart of a chicken, but she's got the reflexes of a cat.
I raced upstairs and tore through the house, searching for what some believe is my better half.
If they only knew.
I finally found said better half standing outside on the street. Watching the storm while lightning popped through the sky around him. I shook my head in disgust.
"Get the hell outta the street!" I yelled out. "There's a tornado coming!"His only response was to smile brightly and holler back, "Yeah, ain't it cool?"
So here we are, a few weeks after the storm - the very same storm that swept through my brother-in-law's neighborhood. Apparently he got the brains in the family because he joined his wife in the basement while the storm tore through.
But then something would happen to make us re-think that "who got the brains in the family" theory.
While home alone one evening, he headed downstairs to retrieve a frozen dinner from the freezer. He threw open the lid to discover a whole new kind of nasty. And quickly realized they'd forgotten to plug in the freezer after the storm passed. Several weeks ago.
"HOLY SH**!!" his e-mail continued. "Does rotten meat and whatever else was in there for the entire month of June smell like 100,000 pounds of monkey butt."
Note to self - I don't want to discover how he knows what a monkey's butt smells like. There's a good chance it involves a story about a keg of beer, a stripper and a kidnapped college mascot.
He continued, "Plus, the gnats flying around the basement? I had to bug bomb the lower part of the house...after I puked in the trash can, of course."
Thanks, but I think I'll stick with the guy who chases tornadoes. In a crazy way, it seems safer.
(orginally published July 16, 2008)