Sometimes Superman Wears Sweats


There was a lull in the roaring. Carefully, I inched open the door…and promptly a mouthful of leaves and grime blew in as again the wind kicked up. Twigs cavorted across the hood of the car, cackling like spastic skeleton bones. A dog barked. A siren shrieked.


“Go on, get home,” I advised. “It’s getting scary.”


“I could just sit here in the car and get blown there. Like Dorothy.”


“Dorothy went to Oz.”


“Beats LA,” said Hermine, who professed regularly to loathing the place. “And I’d love to see those flying monkeys.”


A loud blast kicked a large palm frond into the street. “Maybe you should stay the night,” I said, watching the frond do cartwheels down the road.


“What, and miss the monkeys?” asked Hermine.




I never saw monkeys, but an hour later – with the winds now reaching 80 to 90 mph – plenty else was flying. Including, it would turn out, 1500 trees and enough power lines to leave over 400,000 of us shivering in the dark for up to a week.


I drained my second glass of wine then, as the building took yet another pummeling, leaned back against the sofa, closed my eyes and took as deep a breath as I could muster, considering I was scared half to death.


 I’m riding, riding, I told myself. I’m riding the wind, letting it take me where it may…I’m at one with the wind. At one with the wind, at one with the wind. I’m cupped in the palm of the wind. The wind won’t let me fall.


Something crash-landed on the roof. My eyes flew open and, before I was even aware I was doing it, I was off my bucking bronco of Go-with-the-Flowness and peering out the French doors to the courtyard. Was it SNOWING?


No, those weren’t ice crystals that were raining…It was pansy petals. Hundreds and hundreds of petals. At the same time, a chorus line of decorative trees bowed, ballerina-like, heads past their knees, nearly to their toes. The winds screamed. Sirens pealed almost ceaselessly, like hard labor pains. I reached for my phone.


I hate this, I texted Hermine. It’s like the sacrifice from Rite of Spring out there. Diaghilev ’s shade must love this.


Who’s Diaghilev? she texted back.


A coach, I typed, just to be weird. There wasn’t a sport on the planet – except, MAYBE, camel wrestling or croquet – that Hermine didn’t follow.


LOLOLOLOLOL. I looked him up.  Power?


So far so good, I typed.


Here too. Knock on wood.


Plenty of that here.  Branches ankle deep on patio.


Keep in touch.


Will do. Text or call if you lose power and want to come over.


It was an easy offer to make – and not just because I was feeling cowardly. No one was going to sleep much tonight. You can’t when there are Santa Anas. It’s just too NOISY. They say misery loves company. Why not gather together and stick it to those mean old nasty winds?


I refilled my wine glass then spent the next five or so minutes getting myself and my bum leg up the flight and a half of stairs leading to the bedroom. (I had fractured my ankle a month earlier, after an ill-advised binge of overtraining.) Eventually I stopped limping to the window long enough to free myself of my walking cast and nestle into position against the headboard of the bed. The skylight in the hallway rattled – and, though it was like trying not to scratch an itch, I ignored it, clenching my eyes shut instead.


I am riding the wind…riding, riding…riding the wind…


Unbidden, an image of Miss Gulch on her bicycle amidst the clouds and the ruckus in the thick of Dorothy’s twister broke in. I could even hear the soundtrack: da da da da DAH da…da da da da DAH da…DAAAAH!


When, suddenly, downstairs there was the sound of shattering glass.


The sound of shattering glass IN MY LIVING ROOM.


I was out of bed and halfway down the staircase when I realized that I had forgotten my cast. But no way on earth was I taking the time to lumber back up and fetch the thing. Already, thick gusts of cold air that just felt WRONG were coiling themselves about my legs. Had the front door blown open?


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