Where were you when the power blew?

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By Ken Begley

Snowmen fall from heaven... unassembled.        

- Author Unknown


I know, I know. We had an ice storm, not a snowstorm.  But how many good ice storm quotes can you come up with?  That’s what I thought.

The ice storm didn’t bother me so much.  

Shoot, being trapped in the house, electricity out, water gone, phones dead, and food running low ain’t nothing.  That’s because my family has been preparing for this for a long time.

How, you ask?

By not getting any pay raises for several years while having a pile of kids.  Lack of money can prepare you for a lot of things in life.  Take it from me.

When bad times hit, all you have to do is pull on your “big boy britches” and tough it out like I do.

Yep, sure enough.  I got up last week and took one look out the window at all the ice and headed for the closet.

“What are you doing?” asked Cindy.

“We’re iced in.  I’m getting my big boy britches on.  I’ve got some manly things to do.”

Cindy rolled her eyes and went back to sleep.

Cindy always did rest well when she knew I was on the job.

I reached in to the closet and pulled out my 20-year-old blue, of course, UK sweatshirt, my combat boots, a Big Burley ball cap, and my big boy britches, which is a pair of Big Ben bib overalls.  I was now ready for whatever Mother Nature would foolishly throw at me.

My first task was to wake up my 13-year-old boy.  

“Wake up boy.  It’s time I taught you some manly tasks to do.”

“But there isn’t any school, Daddy.  I don’t have to get up early.”

“I’m not talking about some sissy school work.  I’m talking about shoveling the ice off our 150 foot driveway.”

He grudgingly looked up in a sleepy stupor and said, “I’ll be right behind you in five minutes.”

“That’s more like it!”

With that, I put on my insulated army field jacket and headed to the garage where I grabbed my big heavy-duty plastic snow shovel.

I opened the garage door and looked down on an inch of ice covering everything.

“Do your worst, Mother Nature,” I confidently said while taking my first step on the ice.

It was a long step, or rather slide, down that slight incline of a driveway that ended with me on my back in the snow.  

My back went out and I couldn’t get up. I lay there swinging my arms back and forth like a deranged hobo doing the backstroke in the snow.  

“Good grief.  I’ve thrown my back out.  Good thing Will’s going to be out here in five minutes or I might be worried.”

45 minutes later...

Will pokes his head out of the garage door and sees me prostrate in the snow and ice.

“Hey, Daddy, I’ll be there after I get my breakfast.  Why aren’t you shoveling?”

“Because I’m too busy making snow angels.  Get your tail out here before I go into hypothermia.”

Cindy and Will came out to help me get back on my legs while using the shovel as a crutch.  I knew it was good for something.  The pain in my back had the fortunate side effect of making me forget all my usual aches that come from old age.  By the way, I would like to add that growing old isn’t for weenies.

Cindy said, “This is stupid.  How’re you going to get this ice up using a snow shovel?  The ice is too thick.  This will take forever.”

I began to get mad.  Mother Nature might doubt my abilities but not my own wife!

“It’s not that thick,” I said as I pulled the snow shovel up above my head and slammed it down onto the ice.  It promptly bounced back up with the unfortunate result of slamming the handle into my mouth knocking me back down on the ground again.

I looked up to see Cindy’s loving face saying, “It’s going to take a lot longer if you keep making snow angels all day.  So how are you going to get the ice off?”

“This isn’t a hard problem at all!  Why, a 13-year-old can solve it!  Here, Will, take this shovel and clean all this ice off the driveway while your momma fixes me breakfast.”

“Daddy, this could take all day!”

“Don’t worry.  I have it on good authority that there will be no school today.”

Cindy really took good care of me while Will spent nine hours shoveling, or rather clubbing, the ice off the driveway.  I watched from the window and cheered him on.  

All that exercise did the boy good.  Of course, he couldn’t feel his legs, arms, hands, nose, ears and toes for the next few days, but other than that, it was just like football practice.  The frequently falling tree limbs around him helped to increase his speed and agility. Some coach will thank me later.

Anyway, Cindy made a big supper that night and we all sat down together to eat like the Waltons did on television.  It was about 6:30 pm.  

It was then that the lights flickered as the cold dark night began to fall around the house.

Cindy said, “Oh, no.  The power is getting ready to fail!  What should we do?”

I looked into the eyes of all the kids with calm reassurance and wisely said, “Eat faster.”

But the electricity blew before we could finish supper.

We pulled out all those candles Cindy bought and was given for the last several years.  We lit every one.  Together they put out the equivalent light of a middle-aged firefly.  

We tried to play a game of Yahtzee, but the cheating was rampant and led to several threats of violence.  The game broke up at about 7:30 pm.

“What do we do now?” pleaded my loyal subjects.”

“Go to bed.”

“No, really, it’s only 7:30 pm.  What can we do?”

“Watch TV.”

“There’s no electricity.”

“I know,” I said as I walked off into the dark and ran into a wall.

I yelled up from the floor, “Bundle up good tonight because it’s going to be cold.  You don’t want to end up not being able to feel your legs like Will, do you?”

We woke up to an icy cold house and now realized that the electricity would be out for several days.  

It was time for drastic measures.  Time to head to Grandma’s, who still had electricity.

Cindy loaded up one van when Mother Nature started to throw down snowflakes the size of pillows.  

“Go ahead with the kids before the roads get slick,” I hollered.  “I’ll load up everything we need for a few days in the other van and follow.”

Before they could get out the door, the road was covered.  My big boy pants got one look at the road and started to move into hyper-drive.  I looked like The Flash running around the house.

The second van was loaded in no time.  I took off in it and promptly slid down the driveway and out into the road.

But I kept my cool.  That’s just the way I am.  

I passed my brother’s house on the way.  Tom was in the driveway surveying a huge tree limb that fell in his driveway.

I rolled down the window and yelled out, “It’s the Apocalypse.  Run away, run away.”

I couldn’t hear from the distance, but Tom mouthed some word that looked like it could have been “nut.” I figured the cold got to him.  That wasn’t a walnut tree.  I think it was water maple.

Anyway, Tom and his crew made it up to Momma’s and the 14 of us were as snug as a bug in a rug for the next several days.  We got back in our house on Saturday.

I’ve folded up my big boy britches and put them back into the closet.

They’re just waiting for the next big emergency so they can get out again.