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I am utterly fascinated by inclement weather. Whenever I hear about or see a storm coming, I race to the nearest window to stare at the ominous clouds as they approach my location. I'm also terrified by soon as the thunder cracks, I jump like I just saw Barbara Bush naked, and look for safer havens. I have a tremendous amount of respect and reverence for the power of nature. I guess it all stems from growing up 12 miles from Myrtle Beach, SC, and witnessing hurricanes nearly every year. Hurricanes kick ass. Serious ass. What other weather phenomenon gets names attached to it? Hurricanes demand respect, and you better give it, or they'll take your belongings, tear up your house, flip over your car, snap your trees in half, remove your wallet, grab your girlfriend's ass, and eat all the nachos. Mess around and not call a hurricane by its given name. Your whole address might change. The most noteworthy of these was Hurricane Hugo, which hit Myrtle Beach back in September of '89, my senior year in high school. It was amazing. We never evacuated when hurricanes parents were pretty much against the idea. In fact, they'd bitch about traffic when they were trying to go to the grocery store or the bank. That "traffic" was the steady flow of people frantically leaving the area. As Hugo waged war on the landscape, I did the unthinkable - I went outside. Yes, I went outside in a hurricane. For those of you who may be unfamiliar with what that entails (and how stupidly dangerous it is), allow me to supply you with the definition of "hurricane": A tropical cyclone with winds of 74 miles (118 kilometers) per hour or greater that occurs especially in the western Atlantic, that is usually accompanied by rain, thunder, and lightning, and that sometimes moves into temperate latitudes -- see BEAUFORT SCALE table. And Hugo had 135 mph winds. And I was outside in it. It was incredible. There was shit flying everywhere! Trash, trees, pieces of vinyl siding, name it. Trees that weren't uprooted were bent over double, branches shaking violently as though being shaken by a temperamental giant. Even cars in driveways were shimmying from side to side, in some sort of twisted, weather-induced automaniacal booty-shaking contest. This was nature at its most furious, and I was loving it. That is, until a tree limb as thick as my thigh came thisfuckingclose to hitting me right in the noggin. I turned right around and went inside. Soon the eye passed over us. If you've never been in the eye of a hurricane, it's pretty bizarre. One second the wind is howling like Charlton Heston in Planet of the Apes, and the next, BAM - the sun's coming out, the wind dies, and birds start chirping. Then, after about 20 minutes of bliss, the other side of the hurricane attacks with even more fury. Our house was spared. We had no damage, but we were without water or power. It was THEN that my father decided that he and I should evacuate to Washington, D.C., leaving my mom and sister there to clean up. Hey, who was I to argue? To this day I don't know how he talked his way into that deal. I miss him. My first hailstorm was in the spring of 2003. Hail is a funny looks so harmless. I mean, it's little balls of ice, right? Just like snow. Snow is soft and wonderful. The hail we got was about the size of a small grape, so it wasn't that bad. I was so fascinated by it, I decided to go outside and experience it. Biiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiig mistake. Hail HURTS. I didn't wear a hat; I didn't put a book or any other protective item over my head. I merely stepped outside, cool, calm and oblivious, as though ice balls rocketing from the damn sky won't hurt Cool Brotha #1. I was proven wrong, the votes against me coming down at high velocity and with malice aforethought. I think I was outside for a total of 3 seconds, but I got beat down like a white supremacist in Watts. The sound of the hail bouncing off the roof was like a swarm of angry bees having a Caribbean steel drum party with the Denver School of the Deaf. I was exhilarated and scared shitless. The hail broke two windows, gave both cars hundreds of very attractive dimples, and gave me a massive headache. Since I now live in Texas, I suppose tornadoes are next on the list of interesting weather phenomenon, but I'm willing to wait. I'll just enjoy this nice summer storm brewing outside. It's fascinating. Peace.


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