I grew up in South Texas, the Rio Grand Valley to be exact. It’s a great place to grow up if you’re incurious, unmotivated, overweight and committed to dying where you were born. I say, when you’ve given up on life and are too timid to pull the trigger, move to the Rio Grand Valley and die a slow but happy death clogging your arteries with deep-fried burritos, chorizo and breakfast tacitos. Why not?

As Hurricane Dolly approaches South Texas, I’m reminded of Hurricane Allen, a storm that hit The Rio Grand Valley back in 1980 when I was about to enter the second grade. I remember watching my mom supervising my dad as he boarded our windows. I went with Mom to the grocery store to buy the storm rations that would carry us through the next few days as we waited out the hurricane in the hallway that connected the bedrooms of our house. A neighbor and one-time family friend joined us because “her husband was away on business.” I would learn years later that “away on business” was her husband’s way of saying “fucking every last whore in sight.”

After anxiously waiting for this monster hurricane to arrive and wreak havoc on our town, the storm itself was anticlimactic. My parents were adamant that I not open any of the doors to any of the rooms that had windows. This left me with few options but the closet–ironic if you think about it now. I spent my time playing bingo with my neighbor, turning on and off my flashlight and getting board beyond belief.

When the storm was waning, my parents let me accompany them to our kitchen to “check on things.” I remember stealing away to a window that hadn’t been properly boarded. I peaked through the crack just in time to watch a neighbor’s porch roof collapse. I said, “Mom, Miss Shirley’s roof just fell off!”

“Good. Maybe that’ll teach her to keep her damn dog on its leash.”

A few days later on the first day of class, my second grade teacher with the fried hair and dead tooth (I hated the bitch) made us recount our hurricane experience as a sort of icebreaker. I got an unintended laugh when I told the class of my dilemma over which toys to save. Hadn’t they all seen those popular disaster movies where houses are leveled, people die overacting and family pets get carried away?

In the end, I decided to save my Lincoln Logs and board games–much to the dismay of my parents. I was an only child for nine years and my folks grew tired of having to play Bonkers, Sorry and Hungry Hippo with me. Whatever ever did happen to my Hungry Hippo board game? After a few drinks with friends, THAT would be one hell of a game to play now.

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