Hurricane Irene: the aftermath, part two!


After our recent hurricane, you generally greeted people with something like: “How was your hurricane?” Usually you got a few words: wry, sad, a fallen branch here, no power there.



There’s a big older guy who delivers the campus mail to my building. “How was your hurricane?” I asked him a few days after Irene swept through, expecting the usual light-hearted reply; he’s normally very cheerful.



Thunk! went the bucket of mail. “I lost five hundred dollars worth of meat!” he wailed. “Freezer was out of power for fifty-five hours! I opened it and I was sick to my stomach! Not literally, I mean. It hasn’t rotted yet. But the waste! I called Narragansett Electric, and they -”



Some people, when they tell you a story like this, turn it into a performance piece. He was one of those people. He was leaping into the air and shaking his finger in my face, and for the first time I was beginning to notice how big he was, and I was desperately hoping he wasn’t going to turn green and bust out of his clothes. “There’s one connection – one! – that runs under Bristol County. And if it goes out, Barrington goes out! And Warren! And Bristol! And National Grid knows it! We’ve told them time and time again! I told them, I’m gonna bring it up at a town meeting, and we’re gonna get signatures together, and we’re gonna make them -”



“You know what I heard?” I said feebly, in an effort to distract him. “It’s the restaurants you have to watch out for. They’re sorting through their food, and they don’t want to throw stuff away – and now there aren’t enough food inspectors – “



“Tell me about it!” he brayed. “My neighbor, he works for [redacted nearby Italian restaurant], and, well you know they’ve been closed -”



“What?” I croaked. “We just ate there – we liked it -”



“It’s been closed for seven or eight days now!” he boomed. “Flies! Flies in the walls! They’re everywhere! Somebody working there turned them in – “



I am thinking now of the very nice meal Partner and I had at that restaurant only a few weeks ago, and am trying to remember if I saw any flies, and I have talked myself into believing that I did.



I used to work for a food distributor; several of the salesmen told me that, once you see the average restaurant kitchen, you will never eat there again.



On the other hand: a few years ago, Partner and I were in Manhattan and ate at a really lovely Brazilian restaurant called Plataforma. It was Restaurant Week, and we got a special deal: special meal, free gifts, and a personal tour of the kitchen. Kids, you have never seen such a beautiful kitchen. Brazilian restaurants are all about meat, and there was a huge multi-rotisserie with at least ten cuts of meat rotating on it; it looked like something on the space shuttle. The staff looked like they laundered their uniforms every ten minutes. Even the salads they were tossing looked like they were meant to appear in a movie about salads.



So not all restaurants are filthy.


I don’t care. I’m gonna eat at that Italian place again. We had a very nice meal there.



(I’d better not see any flies.)



About Loren Williams
Gay, partnered, living in Providence, working at a local university. Loves: books, movies, TV. Comments and recriminations can be sent to

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