Monday, February 6, 2012

Guest Columnist!

Today, we are honored by the presence of one of the great satarists of our time -- Rudy Whitcomb!

The Cloud

Although the weather reporter on the television had warned us for days, like many other Southern Californians, we were caught completely off-guard when a cloud appeared yesterday afternoon at about 3 p.m. After all, who pays any attention to the weather report?

I was at home at the time and we were relatively unscathed, but some friends of ours were in their car, traveling on the Harbor Freeway and they say traffic came to a complete stop as the panicked motorists rolled up their windows and tightened their seat belts.

They, like hundreds of other motorists were helpless, trapped in their cars and could only wait and pray for help to come.

Luckily, our friends were returning from grocery shopping and were able to open the trunk and get to a frozen turkey that they were able to cook one bite at a time with the car's cigarette lighter to get them through the ordeal.

Unlike some of our more fortunate neighbors and most of the rich folks in Beverly Hills, we do not have a cloud cellar.

But we were prepared with emergency provisions, beer, sweaters, extra helmets, safety glasses and a kitten.

Aside from that, there was little else we could do. We were utterly helpless and alone and could only cower in our homes and peer out of the wiondows, hoping the cloud would soon disappear or move on to the less fortunate neighborhoods to the east. (The people to the east are poor and are used to having bad things happen to them.)

Trying to maintain a brave front and calm the womenfolk, I suggested we play with my Christmas present (a home tattoo set) or maybe do some skeet shooting out the upstairs window.

But I could tell, the Missus was having none of it and if I didn't come up with a real good diversion, something to calm her and take her mind off of our plight, she would again start hinting that I should go outside and paint the garage.

We compromised by going to our room, pushing the dog out of the way and crawling under the bed with a bowl of spaghetti and some whipped cream.

The minutes turned into an hour, but at last the authorities sounded the siren, signalling that the cloud was gone and we could venture outside.

Now, as if nothing had happened, it was sunny and warm as it always should be.

We were met with an almost-festive atmosphere as many of our neighbors came out of the safety of their homes to gather on their lawns to relieve themselves of their pent-up tension by trading stories about their experiences -- where they were when they first realized there was a cloud in the sky and what they did to protect themselves.

One old timer, I guess you could call him the patriarch of the block, told the tale of the great cloud of '33.

"In those days, when we had a cloud, we had a cloud. Back then it wasn't like it is now, with yer fancy weather people and yer Doppler radars and satellites up there in the sky to warn you about a cloud a'comin'" he said, drawing himself up to his full height and taking a hit on the half-full bottle of Jim Beam we were passing around.

"No sirree Bob," he continued, after clearing his throat and spitting in our flowerbed. "Back then you could be a-goin' about your business outdoors, naked and defenseless, happy as you please when out of the blue, there it was. A cloud. A cloud as big as a barn. Bigger. Dark and ominous, they would be, hangin' overhead like the harbinger of doom that they are, threatening who knows what?" he said with a faraway look in his eye as the bourbon kicked in.

About then we all had to hit the deck to dodge the bullets as the 4 o'clock drive-by shooter came down the street. Then it was back inside our homes to turn on our television sets in time to catch the 5 p.m. high-speed car chase. Every night it's held on a different freeway and we have a pool going as to which one it will be.

Tonight, I have $5 on the 60 Freeway between Montebello and North Long Beach.

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