We needed hurricane shutters. Fast.
But we decided to do a little research first.
We learned a lot. For starters, we learned that zillions of people around the world are foolish enough to buy houses on or near beaches…
…and that when these nice people come to their senses they realize they’ve invested their life savings in a property with the lifespan of a fruit fly and spend the rest of their days trying to protect it.
We also learned a few things about hurricane shutters themselves.
One of the highest-end models consists of a series of U-shaped panels which slide along tracks mounted above and below the windows and doors and interlock for maximum protection.
Jane highly recommended this style, despite their high cost. Lots of her other owners had sprung for them, she told us, and were satisfied.
“Satisfied with what?” Michael asked when I repeated this little tidbit to him. “Have they been through a hurricane?”
“I’m not sure,” I said.
“As far as I know Puerto Rico hasn’t been hit by a hurricane in years, so how could anyone who’s bought shutters in the past two or three years possibly know if they’re effective in a storm or not?”
He had me there. “Maybe they just like the way they look,” I hazarded.
“That’s a great reason to spend four thousand bucks.”
I called Jane back. She was her usual emphatic self. “They’re the best. Also, they’re the easiest for us to install.”
I was skeptical. “Where would you store them?”
“In your lock-up on the bottom floor.”
“But then your guys would have to schlep them up two flights of stairs in a storm. Aren’t there forty or fifty pieces? Doesn’t sound easy to me.”
“Piece of cake,” she responded, swatting away my objections like a pesky fly. “And they work!”
I couldn’t resist asking. “How do you know?”
She sighed. “Because we’ve tested them.”
“In a hurricane?”
She paused for a moment. “In a near-hurricane,” she said slowly, as if talking to a very young, very slow child.
“They did great. And if it had been a real hurricane they would’ve done even better.”
“What’s a pre-hurricane like?” I couldn’t help asking.
I gave up.
“Okay,” I said, “let’s do it.”
She called me back the next day. The shutters were on back order for at least six weeks. What a surprise.
“Why did we wait until hurricane season to order hurricane shutters?” I wailed to Michael that evening.
“The same reason we waited until last winter’s blizzard to buy gloves. We’re idiots.”
Although hardly comforting, this shut me up.
Over the next few weeks we logged many, many hours watching the Weather Channel. We became intimately familiar with the speech patterns, verbal tics and wardrobes of the anchors and reporters.
“Isn’t Rob wearing a new coat?” Michael asked one evening.
“Oh my god, that old thing? Are you kidding?”
Looking back, this moment should have given us pause, but by then we were in too deep. In effect, we had gone over to The Dark Side.
“And what about Shelley’s hair? Does that woman even own a brush?”
“Hey look, there’s a tiny storm brewing off the coast of Africa.”
“Is it headed west?” I asked, a tiny note of excitement cresting in my voice.
“Looks like it might.”
“I’ll pop some corn.”
Michael settled in for the duration. “While you’re at it, could you make me a drink?”