Ryan and I went out to eat last night at our local wings bar. As we made our way home, we saw a huge, gray mass in the sky hovering near our house. Flashes of lightning lit up the sky as we pulled up into the driveway. The wind picked up when we got into the house and I feared one of the pine trees in the backyard would surely topple over. Thunder shook the house; I thought Ryan was hitting the wall from behind the closet door. It felt was that close. As I put some french fries in the oven for everyone to eat with the hamburgers I made the night before, the lights flickered for a split second. But I wasn’t worried because this is very normal and very expected during a storm.
A few minutes later, however, the entire house powered down and I stood for a moment waiting for everything to turn back on. I made my way to the cupboard above the stove and took out a box of matches and several tea lights. I placed several around the kitchen and some in the master bedroom where we were all congregated. We were all on our phones, but for some reason my connection was spotty. I decided to watch a movie on my phone, confident that I could get at least halfway through on the 52% battery life I currently had.
“You should turn off your phone just in case the power doesn’t turn back on. You’ll need it as an alarm tomorrow morning,” Ryan said.
Reluctantly, I turned off my phone and plugged in my charger anyway. Just in case. “Arrgh! What did people do back in the 1960s and whatnot?!” I look around at everyone’s faces lit up by the their 4G glow mocking me as I sat in my own corner of darkness. I stood up and felt around for my sports bra. I made my way to the garage in just panties and a sports bra, stumbling over scooters, shoes, and a 12-pack of bottled water. I took three tea lights and set one next to me as I climbed onto my elliptical machine. I do 30 minutes in the evenings, but tonight was going to be a challenge. I had no way to monitor my speed and for how long I’ve been exercising. Ryan came in and shone the flashlight over the monitor so I could fix my settings. “I’ll be back to check on you in a bit.”
So I began moving my arms and legs. My mind started to feed on itself. “Is that a light out there? Or is that lightning? Is someone out there with a flashlight? Are they going to break in and kill us like in ‘The Strangers’ with Liv Tyler? How fast can I get in the house, grab my phone so I can call 911, gather my kids into Ryan’s closet while he gets the gun loaded? It’s the light again! That’s not lightning! What if my legs are too wobbly to make it out of the garage? What if I trip over the bottle water? There’s the light again! Can they hear my elliptical machine from out there? Should I tell Ryan? I don’t want to die without pants on! There goes the light ag–WHO THE FUCK IS OUT THERE?!?!”
Then, there was a loud banging. At first I thought Ryan was taking a shower and the pipes were rattling. The banging was relentless. My eyes widened in the dark trying to hear with my eyes. The banging didn’t stop. I climbed off the machine. The kids were standing up in a fearful stance. “Where’s dad?” I demanded?
“I don’t know!” they responded.
“Ryan..Ryan!!” I called out, running to the master bathroom. The banging was furious and terrifying. I grabbed my phone with its 48% battery life, completely forgetting that my plan was to hit 9 1, and 1 on my dial pad, and hitting “send” if I felt I was in danger. “Stay in the room and lock the door,” I ordered. I was still not dressed as I peeked around the corner. I grabbed Ryan’s jiu jitsu gi that was drying in the kitchen and covered up as best as I could. I’ll be damned if my killer see my lady parts. A light pointed straight at me from the porch. “What in holy crap.”
It was Ryan doing a walk-through of our property. “What the fuck are you doing outside? Who locked you out?” Although I wasn’t working out, my heart rate was still up.
I went back into the garage and saw that I was only 14 minutes into my workout. DAMN IT. I got back onto the machine and as soon as I did, the flame of the nearby tea light drowned in its puddle of wax. DOUBLE DAMN IT. There was only one thing to do to count down my workout and that was to sing four four-minute songs in my head. After I realized that I didn’t know any current songs well enough to sing it from start to finish, the first song that came into my head was New Kids on the Block’s “The Right Stuff.” As I sang the lyrics in my head, I pictured the Kids’ black and white choreographed routine panning from side to side, Donnie’s mullet waving behind him as moved his legs as he chanted ‘oh oh oh oh oh’, Joe’s underage ass taking over the convertible as the other four pick up some chicks on the side of the road, and everyone gallivanting in the cemetery. Because cemeteries were the new video game arcade.
After the third “Right Stuff,” Ryan came in with his flashlight. “How much longer you got?”
“I should have about 4 more minutes,” I answered. He shined the light over the panel. “See. I’ve been singing songs in my head. I have about one more song left?”
He laughed as he revealed 4:17 remaining on the elliptical. “What! What songs were you singing?”
“Just a ‘song.’ I’ve been singing ‘The Right Stuff’ because I don’t have a clock.”
“You’re a nut!” he said as he walked back into the house.
As I started the second chorus, the lights turned back on, ending my nightmare of having to endure mental karaoke to 80s boy bands.