52 The native? He’s still at the bar. A few days later, the weatherman appears on camera with the “Serious Face.” That means this is “Serious Business.” Hurricane Kermit has formed in the Bay of Campeche and three of the 6,000 spaghetti models show it might be hitting us. Directly. Dead on. The transplant sees the Serious Face on the weatherman and goes into fully operational hyperdrive. It’s only a matter of days before the end of times is upon us. The transplant begins to sweat, pace and turns his weather radio on 24 hours a day. He packs his car, seals up his valuable documents in little plastic bags, then packs them in waterproof bins. The native? Yeah. He’s at the bar. He does look up at the television and sees a tracking map of a storm getting ready to make its way into the Gulf. He buys everyone a round. Two days later, the storm starts to twist and turn, hopping this way and that. One night the transplant goes to bed with an ever-so-slight feeling of comfort of knowing the “cone of possibility” is far out of the way of our area. The next morning he wakes up and local news stations have started their 24-hour deathwatch. “The end is near!” they say, and say it repeatedly throughout the broadcast. The native sees this broadcast as well. He actually gets up from his barstool. Then he saunters off to the bathroom, comes back, and buys another round. He calls his wife to find out if she’s watching the news. He felt it was important for her to know his favorite summer sausages at Publix were put on a recall list. One day before possible impact rolls around – The cone of possibility has become a cone of probability. The transplant refills his Xanax prescription, packs up his whole house in his Prius, takes down his neighbor’s lawn dwarves and flamingos, then has a meltdown on his next-door neighbor for not taking his giant trampoline inside. His car is barely clearing the driveway by this time, and he suddenly realizes there is no room for his dog ... or his wife. This is a problem. He finds room for the dog. The native leaves the bar and stops at a gas station, where he buys two gallons of water, a pack of “C” batteries, two cans of tuna and six cases of beer. He returns to the bar with his purchases and tells the bartender to keepthem coming. It might soon be time for a hurricane party. As the evening rolls around, so does the weather. A television report predicts imminent doom. The native calls his wife and tells her to get the plywood out of the garage and install it on his shop windows. She responds by telling him where he can put his plywood, and heads out to her mother’s house in Avon Park. The native goes home, retrieves his dog and takes it back to the bar. The transplant is out of the picture at this point, having evacuated the town (and his shorts) in a flurry of car titles and homeowner’s policies. The native’s bar quickly fills as the storm gets closer and closer. Never has there been such a time to drink and make merry, as when certain death is at hand. The rains begin and the wind picks up. As morning dawns, the sky is sunny and the storm has hit somewhere in the Panhandle. Another foiled attempt by a storm to ruin our little piece of paradise. The worst damage includes hundreds of hangovers. The transplant is tooling down the highway, headed back home, having spent more than $1,000 on his evacuation adventure. His dog has vomited across the expanse of the backseat and knocked all the lids from the waterproof bins. It has relieved itself all over the property deed and his children’s baby pictures. The basic rule of thumb for Floridians and hurricanes is this: When you turn on the television and see Jim Cantore standing on your front porch, it’s time to go.
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