I am on my porch, covering the arrival of an afternoon rain. It’s a downpour on a warm spring day. And I love rain.
But I can’t focus on writing because my cats are driving me insane. Rain makes my cats totally nuts. I can’t write a single sentence without them jumping on my keyboard and pouncing on the keys and L4eij2- 94t2pgw;g.w -2t
So we are on the porch together. Them, acting like they’ve escaped from the psych ward. Me, trying to write something meaningful. But before I can write a single word about the rain, the weather changes.
Soon, the rain has stopped.
Now the sun has popped through the clouds. The birds have started singing. I can’t believe how fast it all happened. I wasn’t even finished with this column’s opening paragraphs and the clouds have already parted. Now what I am going to write about?
Welcome to Florida, where the sky changes every few minutes and it rains three times per day. And, of course, we also have mosquitoes. Some Florida breeds of mosquitoes grow big enough to have their own congress representatives
It’s a little bizarre, this weather. It has gone from dreary, to suffocating, to full of mosquitoes. Only a few seconds ago, the clouds were black, like something from a cheap horror movie. Now it’s Beulah Land.
The air has become humid and hot. There is steam rising in the distance, between the millions of pine trees. This happens whenever rain hits the warm soil in the woods. The result is a magnificent steam that looks like something from a storybook. This usually happens during very hot weather.
And it has been HOT lately. Yesterday, for instance, it was so warm outside I saw a Baptist funeral procession pull through a Dairy Queen.
You’ll have to forgive me. That was just a little warm weather humor to lighten the mood. You probably didn’t find that joke very funny, and I wouldn’t blame you. But my cats seemed to like it03t203pijg[b qemll~22@
When I was a kid, I used to love corny jokes from drugstore joke books. I had millions of them memorized.
Q: What do you call 48 straight hours of rain in Florida?
The reason I loved jokes was because they cheered me up, and there were times when my childhood was a literal hell on earth. Namely, because I was raised by evangelicals, who were not known for being sunny people.
We Southern Baptist children were not allowed to leave the house with our shirts untucked or our shoes unshined. Our hair was to be parted on the side, and we were never to—I repeat, never—wear jeans to my fundamentalist school.
We weren’t allowed to wear jeans to class unless nuclear war had taken place and the nation’s supply of Dockers had been wiped out.
I am not kidding. We had rigid dress codes. I can still remember the day when the school announced that they were loosening up and allowing girls to wear pleated jeans.
This was groundbreaking news in Kid World. Previously, girls had been wearing dresses or wool skirts that fell at least three inches below the heels. But suddenly, girls were wearing acid washed jeans with tapered legs and so many pleats that the pants came with PG-13 ratings.
Not long thereafter, the teacher announced that boys could wear jeans. Several of us boys almost had cardiac events when we heard this. Our school uniform had always been khakis and wrought iron chastity belts. But JEANS?
I will never forget the first day I wore jeans to school. It was recess, all my friends were wearing denim, and it felt illegal somehow.
But anyway, that’s just one tidbit from my unhealthy fundamentalist childhood.
All kidding aside, my formative years really were crummy at some points. When I was a kid my father took his own life and my family became sort of outcasts. People don’t mean to blackball you after something terrible happens to you, they do it by accident sometimes. It’s human nature.
If you don’t believe me, just imagine this scenario: You’re planning a super fun barbecue. Who do you invite?
Chances are the first guests who came to your mind weren’t the suicide survivors down the street.
The thing is, at first, people are being nice by giving you space. But then, everyone gets accustomed to giving you lots of space. Pretty soon, you need an astronaut’s extravehicular mobility suit just to get around in all that space people keep giving you.
In other words, sometimes your proverbial sky can get all cloudy and rainy. Sometimes you wonder if the sun will ever come out again. Sometimes life flat stinks.
I have gone through periods of living when I believed the sun had disappeared for good. But I am older now. I am not any smarter per se, but I know more stuff.
At this age, I know that even though the sun disappears, it’s still there. I know this sounds so painfully simple, but I haven’t always known this. There were times I doubted it.
But make no mistake, the sunshine will return faster than you think. And when it does, it will blow your mind. Quarantines will fade into ancient history, pandemics will turn into textbook footnotes. One day, you will sit on your porch during a rainstorm, but the sunshine will cut through the clouds and light the entire world on fire. You will be wearing blue jeans at the time.
And there will be a couple of dang cats on your laptopPPUIt uB$!1^ow3ot2ringg you64&