There are so many theories about why we are experiencing wild swings of weather and global warming. For what it’s worth, here’s another, one I don’t think anyone has considered before. It’s because God is an entertainer.
As you know, entertainers love applause. He creates the oceans, we sing his praise. He creates light, we sing his praise. He creates the universe, we sing his praise. He goes backstage on the Seventh Day to rest and bask in our praise. It was a great performance. And nobody even has to tell him that.
When I was a boy a long time ago, all we’d do when he would do these things was shrug it off and try to get on with things. We didn’t have all the fancy TV commentators or weather centers or even accurate broadcasting back then. We’d get hit by a huge snowstorm. I remember being seven years old in December 1947 when a big snowstorm hit, leaving us with 20 inches, then two days later another hit, adding another 24 inches—44 inches in two days paralyzed the community. Nobody was happy about it. My friends and I couldn’t see over the snowdrifts, even out the window. And where had it come from? The weather forecasters we heard—on the radio at that time—had no answers. What a joke they were, wrong half the time. They hardly knew anything.
After that storm of 1947, we didn’t have any further dramatic weather events for a good 10 years. And so God tried again. I think it was in 1957 and we still didn’t have very good warning systems about things. We had a big hurricane that September and trees and power went down and we were surprised and troubled by it. We had roofs blow off houses. We had a few wash into the sea. But what can you do?
I really don’t think God, busy as he was with so many things, ever considered these tough weather events as part of his entertainment. Indeed, it was probably an accident he inflicted on us, not meaning to. But he had no way of apologizing. Then, beginning in the 1970s, we began to really get into appreciating extreme weather.
I remember the very first hurricane that hit the Hamptons that we gave a name. It was Hurricane Belle, and it came through in August of 1976. We not only gave it a name, but we had people who could predict when it was going to arrive, down to the half hour, and even show us a track of it coming in on our TVs. Many people were all excited about the arrival of this hurricane. Ahead of time, people boarded up their windows with plywood. We had hurricane parties. We had a wonderful time. I was single at that time and I still remember all the people we holed up with that year to ride the hurricane out for four days without power in painter Abraham Ratner’s house on Egypt Lane in East Hampton.
I think God perked up when all this happened. We actually enjoyed what he was throwing at us. So he went and did it again. In the 1980s and 1990s he hit us with not only hurricanes, but also a terrific ice storm and, in 1998, a tornado that came down Main Street in Bridgehampton and knocked the roof off Thayer’s Hardware Store.
“Never has a tornado hit the Hamptons,” one TV commentator breathlessly said at the time, pointing to the wreckage. “We think there’s clear sailing this coming week, but we don’t yet know what might come after that, though.”
God just loved hearing that. I’ll make more stuff, he said. And he did. Beginning around 2000, he began pummeling the Northeast with all sorts of stuff. Some we liked, some we didn’t. It was the most fun when dire predictions were made but things didn’t quite materialize. It would be a little sleight of hand on God’s part. Now you see it, now you don’t.
Take this “Nemo” that just came through here, three months after Frankenstorm Sandy. I watched the Weather Channel. “It’s an Alberta Clipper swooping in to meet up with a snarling Nor’easter coming up the coast,” the weather forecaster said. That was not as dramatic as the three storms that had collided over New York two months earlier in a repeat performance of The Perfect Storm, a movie displaying his work that had God jumping up and down with excitement watching.
We love you, God. Do it again.
I saw palm trees being ripped up by their roots on CNN the afternoon that Nemo was supposed to come through. I think it was in Miami three years ago, but they had the footage.
“Long Island could get two inches of snow, or it could get 20 inches—depends where the Clipper and the nor’easter meet up,” a man said on ESPN. “Watch for dangerous snow loads on the arenas. They’ll probably cancel all basketball tonight.”
I changed the channel.
“Stay home,” a tiny reporter said on my laptop. “They’re shutting the Expressway at 5 pm. Governor Cuomo has declared an emergency.”
“This will be a legendary storm,” said a reporter on CBS News Tonight.
Well, they met up right over us. Islip got 29 inches of snow. We got about 15.
“We’re taking you, right now, to the scene on the beach at Fire Island. Can you hear me, Roz?”
“Yes I can hear you, Chet. I’m hanging onto my hat here, the wind is whipping, you can see the surf hitting the railing just behind me. But I have to go now. Police are heading this way.”
So now God is into this razzle-dazzle. He’s going to tear off ice sheets with polar bears on them. He’s going to bring on floods and hailstones that get named.
“This is Hailstone Herman,” a reporter will say, holding up a sphere the size of a basketball. “There hasn’t been a hailstone this size since the weather service began taking readings. It crashed through the roof of a Dodge Ram truck you see right behind me. Must weigh 15 pounds.”
You know how we put a stop to this? We just pretend we don’t notice when these things are happening. We put a cork in all those hysterical weather disaster reporters. We shut down all the networks. Shoot out all the satellite dishes.
An earthquake shakes the area. We just keep on playing the poker game. A fog rolls in and we can’t see even six inches. We just roll over and go back to sleep. After awhile, God will get the idea. Have we become bored with his shenanigans? Oh, ho hum. He’ll head over to another planet where he might be more appreciated.
And then, pretty soon, everything will get back to normal.