Midday and lovely, the 26th of August, well before the eve of the storm, a day and more before its brunt. Fell Irene, Irene most foul, Irene so lovely a name to be so affixed and hence besmirched. All of the other “I”s I can rummage up are equally fine, save, I suppose, Irma, which doesn’t sound like a name at all: Ivy, Ilene, Iphegenia, Ilsa, Ida, Ilka, Imogen. It would be a shame to abuse them by attaching them to a weather event brooding with the direct of consequences.
All Irenes ought to rise and protest. I didn’t, some years back, when my name was similarly taken. “Bob Threatens Coast” ran the headline. As if I knew how to. As if I had such a thought. As if estuaries, basins, harbors, millraces, and bays cringed at the sight of me. Domesticating fierce storms by giving them neighborly monikers does not render them tame or fun or in any way diminish their fury.
What about bad sorts instead? Nero, Amin, Peron, Mussolini, Stalin, Tamerlane, Genghis Khan (his father), Nixon, Qaddafi, Lucrezia Borgia, Satan, the anti-Christ. Vlad the Impaler and Dracula and Clytemnestra represented bad weather when they were alive and left the earth considerably wrecked when they were gone.
The descriptives. Adjectives and adverbs. “Awful” would be a very good tag for a wrecker of a storm. So too horrible, ghastly, bad, hellish, madness, doom, louse, and lousy and I think you get my drift.
And then there are all of those one wouldn’t want to serve or break a bit of bread with. The boor, for example, as well as the bore. The mockup, mess, nutcase, mass murderer, assassin, chatterbox, rumormonger, plug-ugly, pig, ass, dastard, prig, bogeyman, perpetrator, sneak, tattletale, liar. . . .
Hurricanes, however, represent weather gone wrong, an affliction of the elements, if you wish, disease incarnate, plague and pestilence, all suitable mantras. And damn the alphabet, although there would be an initial surfeit: asthma, acne, aeromegaly, ague, astigmatism, and so forth. “E. Coli Slams Connecticut,” “Acne Spares Far Rockaway,” “Astoria Hardest Hit by Asthma.” And then there is bronchitis, boredom, chlamydia, catarrh and colds and coughs. And let us have good old scurvy, bring back leprosy, pellagra, and porphyria, affliction of kings. Pericarditis. Boils and pimples. My, we are afflicted.
The epic ’38 Hurricane, later dubbed the Long Island Express, was not called Charley, George, or Jane, but certainly left its mark.
I am now going to take this bit of civic rant to the offices of this paper lest this dear old storm blow out my lights and render Madoo pure gazpacho. Carlos now putting 10 pieces of plywood on the studio’s windows.