Tuesday, August 26, 2008


This morning, a small group of us sat around the table at the Local Bagel and Smoked Fish Emporium, talking about the usual topics. The care and feeding of aging parents. The Democratic convention. Rep. Tom Price (R-GA)’s talk at the synagogue last night (which I missed in order to attend the August Sommelier Guild function).

And the weather. Because it was pouring down rain outside, pouring as it had not done for months. Raining cats, dogs, frogs, logs, entire bogs. The remnant of Tropical Storm Fay had finally come to roost in north-central Georgia. We were hoping that it would rain up at Lake Allatoona and especially at Lake Lanier, where water levels continue to be well below normal. The Army Corps of Engineers is still releasing plenty of water into the Chattahoochee so that Florida (which just got between 18 and 30 inches of Fay’s rain dumped on it) doesn’t dry up. Gaaah.

The phone rang. It was SWMBO, calling from school, checking to see if I was OK. We had been under a tornado warning for the past 20 minutes, complete with sirens...sirens that we couldn’t hear from inside the Local Bagel and Smoked Fish Emporium. We all should have been cowering under the sink in the washroom, but Tommy, the proprietor, who had heard the sirens from the back door of the kitchen, had not bothered to inform us.

Bagels, it seems, are the perfect cushioning material in the event one is caught up in a tornado. And besides - if the cops who were sitting there enjoying their bagels (what is it about police officers and toroidal foods, anyway?) weren’t concerned, why should we be?

So we sat, munching away, as the rain poured down.

All of a sudden the wind picked up outside, swirling through the parking lot. Debris went flying. A man, running through the parking lot trying to get to the restaurant, nearly got blown off his feet as his umbrella was yanked inside-out by the nearly 100 MPH gusts.

It reminded me of an afternoon thirty-one years ago on Long Island, when a violent thunderstorm sent a telephone pole through the plate-glass window of the restaurant at a local motel...right at the table where our friends had been sitting just minutes before. The event had all the hallmarks of a funnel cloud almost - but not quite - touching down.

And that’s what this probably was. The Funnelly Finger o’ Tornadic Doom poking out of a low cloud, brushing the ground gently, and then changing its mind...for which we were extremely grateful.

Because being caught up in a tornado at breakfast really sucks. And blows. At the same time.

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