Sunday, January 3, 2016

What Will I Be Wearing When The Big One Breaks Loose?

Carolyn J. Rose

 In the past few months I’ve read several articles and watched at least two TV programs dealing with the Cascadia Subduction Zone. That’s the 1000-mile-long boundary between the Juan de Fuca and North American tectonic plates. When the plates shift in a major way—and apparently we’re long overdue for a big shift—the Pacific Northwest will be in for earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions. That means lots of destruction followed by months of disruption.

Finally shaking off denial, I’ve been stockpiling bottled water and emergency supplies. I’ve made a list of neighbors’ phone numbers and designated a person in another state to serve as a message center. I have spare clothing and shoes in the garage and in my car. I fill my gas tank when it reaches the halfway mark. I bought an extra propane tank. I have plastic tubs filled with toilet paper and towels. When the guys at the hardware store see me pull up, they automatically place another small flashlight on the counter, knowing I’ll buy it along with birdseed and whatever else I’ve come for.

And every day I remind myself of two facts. 1) If this thing rips loose the way they say it might, everything I’ve done won’t help all that much. 2) If this thing rips loose, it will undoubtedly rip at a very inconvenient time.

In other words, I won’t be fully dressed, standing outside the house well away from falling debris, holding the wrench I need to turn off the gas and water. I’ll more likely be asleep, in the shower, at the pool, or ensconced at the computer in my bathrobe and slippers—my raggedy bathrobe and worn-down-at-the-heels slippers. Chances are that when it happens, I won’t be wearing the best underwear in the drawer—the stuff without rips and possessing elastic that’s still stretchy. I might even be—gasp—without a bra.

Well, you can’t say my grandmothers didn’t warn me about what would happen if I didn’t pay more attention to my underthings. And if they can see me from wherever they are, they’ll be rolling their eyes as I race to a safe place.

But, honestly, if this thing rips loose like they say it might, I doubt anyone else racing for a safe place will give a hoot whether I’m wearing my bathrobe, a towel, or a tutu.