Maybe the moment was too much for the Fates to tolerate. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver had come to Oklahoma City for the arena presentation of the Most Valuable Player award, won by Andre Roberson Kevin Durant, and within seconds of Durant's closing "Let's play some basketball" my little non-deductible home office was plunged into as much darkness as was available a couple of minutes after sunset.

This didn't bother me too much, until I climbed back into that day's work clothes and went outside to reconnoiter. And it was a phenomenon I'd seen before: the north side of the street was dark, the south side was unaffected. The last time it happened, it took two separate crews four hours and odd to get the power back on. My heart sank.

And stayed sunk, rousing itself only often enough to remind me that its rhythms are perforce my rhythms, and I should therefore expect a night full of syncopation. I duly sent up a tweet, my phone being my one functioning connection to the outside world:

Two hours later, the game winding down, the thunderstorms cranked up. Whatever one may think of thunderstorms, they definitely don't contribute to speedy power restoration. I had, of course, long since given up hope:

So far as I can tell, this is not some lingering toddler-era fear of the dark. (The one scary holdover from those days is claustrophobia, which I seldom today experience unless I push an elevator button and get no immediate response.) Instead, it's a sick and twisted abandonment issue: sick because it brings out the very worst in me, and twisted because in my gut I feel I have no right to think of myself as someone who deserves to be looked after. This is how I go: alone and forgotten, conspicuous only by my subsequent absence. This, if nothing else, explains the desperation in those tweets: they're markers, and perhaps their presence will mean that I'll eventually be found.

This night differed from a night last May, in which I was seemingly faced with a more difficult situation but somehow managed to retain some semblance of humor. The explanation for that is simple enough: the power was still up, the lights were on, and I still had my however-tenuous connection to the outside world. Under those circumstances, I find it easier to maintain the British stiff upper lip, which is curious since I have few if any Britons on my family tree.

And there was, I think, another contributing factor to this year's malaise: the fact that two friends of my general age and configuration didn't make it out of this year alive. Scott "The Fat Guy" Chaffin departed for presumably happier climes in February; Jeff Borland of "The Poor Farm" just barely made it to this week. Said Roberta X of Jeff's demise: "He was a good guy, treated by the Fates with undue harshness in recent years." Oh, yeah. They strung him along with some of the nastiest fibers they stock, and that reminded me of another of my ongoing issues: how come he's gone, why is Scott gone, and why am I still here? What possible justification could there be for sparing me?

Getting to sleep under these conditions, as you can imagine, was an arguable proposition at best. Power was restored around a quarter to two a five-hour outage and as I stumbled around the house to reset what needed resetting, a waterbug fleeing the storm dashed across the floor. I grabbed a copy of InStyle (chosen for bulk, not for other considerations) and dropped it along his path. Gravity worked its usual magic, and as I bent down to retrieve the magazine, every muscle around my midsection took that opportunity to remind me that I'm not supposed to be bending that fast. By the time the alarm went off, merely walking had become difficult; clambering into the tub for my morning shower took about seven times longer than usual. And every bump in the road along the daily commute transmitted itself directly to my spinal cord. (Imagine that: bumps in the road! In Oklahoma City, of all places! Next thing you know, they'll discover large expanses of sand near the United Arab Emirates.) And I think I caught a cold. About the only surprise anymore is that I am still, somehow, not a cardiac patient.

The Vent

  8 May 2014

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 Copyright © 2014 by Charles G. Hill