The lights went out at 10, just as we rooted for a spunky, pony-tailed US Gymnastics Olympic hopeful to stick her landing. I like to think she did.
Beset by heatwave that could make even Kim Kardashian’s hair frizzy, our air became decidedly non-conditioned. Plus we lacked such necessaries as a phone, refrigeration, method of cooking food, and Facebook.
We awoke already hot, faces bloated from heat, hair plastered to our heads, clothes damp. Yet, as promised, we set off to help a friend from church move.
Little did we know it was the mini apocalypse.
Because – well, let’s face it – I put off grocery shopping, we had a not so delectable spread for breakfast: Bagels but no cream cheese, bread but no toaster, cereal but warm milk, raw eggs, pancake batter, tuna.
You know you’re in trouble when tuna is your best breakfast option.
Our only connection with the outside world was my rapidly fading iPhone, and it ran slow and sluggish. Still, we coaxed it into giving us directions to our friend’s new pad.
“Print the directions,” my son said.
“I can’t,” I reminded him.
“Email it to Dad,” he said.
“Dad’s phone is dead,” I told him.
“Text it to me,” he said.
“Your phone is almost dead,” I said, “Plus, texts are not really working.”
Then it struck me: “Get a pencil and piece of paper and write it down.”
Man, we really were back in the dark ages.
Setting off on our mission of mercy, two kids and I figured we’d get food on the way.When in doubt, McDonald’s!
Outside felt like one of those nasty TV shows where crabby undead start taking out their frustrations on your windshield. Trees blocked roadways. Almost all traffic lights were dark. The McDonald’s down the street was empty, lights out, as forlorn as Adele when that guy dumped her, but not as melodic. Even the golden arches were dimmed.
We spotted a group of people chatting at tables set outside a Starbucks and parked, visions of expensive muffins and overpriced sandwiches dancing in our heads.
It was closed. The little bourgoise groups were sitting, coffeeless, outside a closed store, reading a newspaper in a desperate attempt to deal with the downfall of civilization through denial.
We began to notice more eerie signs that we were elbow deep in the apocalypse. Businesses were dark, parking lots empty. Each had a low-tech paper-and-scotch-tape sign on the door, “No Power,” “Closed, no power,” “Sorry, no power.” Gas stations were deserted, except for an occasional car that pulled in hopefully, only to read the handwritten sign on the pump – “No gas. No power” – and drive off.
We grew hungrier, passing closed restaurant after closed restaurant. A car pulled to the side of the road. Then another. I wondered if they had run out of gas on their fruitless search for an open station. And then it struck me – How foolish were were to waste gas resources on a useless quest for a McDonald’s hamburger (ketchup only, no onions).
I had visions of this becoming “The Time Mom Ran out of Gas on Route 66 and We Had to Walk Seven Miles Home on an Empty Stomach in 100 Degree Heat and We Didn’t Even Get McDonald’s.”
I suspect the folks on the Oregon Trail could sympathize.
Instead of driving around further, we arrived to “help move” starving and sweaty. They had some food, but we felt a little ashamed to eat it, sort of like borrowing a cup of sugar off the Donner Party.
We ate anyway.
Turns out the veneer of civilization is only as thick as an electron.