Thursday, June 23, 2011

Lightning Strikes

I was driving through town, just my boy and me.

No, that's a song, isn't it?  Ok, here's what really happened. My small nuclear family had gone for a visit to Indiana to visit Peter's children, Stephen and Sarah, who were then only eight and nine years old. Chad and I came in our beat up Dodge Caravan (not even the Sport model - how sickening is that?) from Mississippi by our lonesomes because Peter has some sort of training class and he got to fly from the great beyond into Indianapolis.  He was always the lucky one.

By the time I got to Kokomo, I had vomited over most of the 900 miles between my driveway and inlaws'.  Did I forget to mention I was 2 months pregnant with Scotlyn?  Lovely time, that. Well, feeling a little weak and faint, I called my ex-inlaws to see if they would mind driving to Kokomo to pick Chad up for a visit, rather than me driving back to Indy the next day to meet them.  My ex-father-in-law chose that moment to grow horns and breathe fire, insisting that since I had previously agreed to drive the hour to Indianapolis, I had to keep my word and do it.  Slightly stunned by his less-than-stellar behavior, I sweetly agreed I would, then proceeded to tell everyone I could how evil he was.  It's the Christian way.

So my story actually begins the next day, Saturday, as Chad and I leave Kokomo just as the grandaddy of all storms starts brewing.  I'm pretty sure Zeus and one of the other head honcho gods were duking it out upstairs, cuz there was some kind of lightning going on, winds a wailing, rain enough to dunk Noah's Ark like it was a bathtub toy.  You get the picture?  To this very day I ain't never seen the like of that storm. 

Chad was strapped in his car seat (see what a good mama I am) in the front seat beside me (or not) so we could jam to the totally cool factory-installed am/fm radio that came with our rocking soccer mom van.  Now, before you report me to the authorities for past child abuse, I just want to point out that there was no air bag. 

The rain was blinding and the wind blew so hard that poor POC (the van's name, Piece of Crap.  Well, hey, it's better than the alternative.) nearly went off the road.  POC sputtered a bit, so I decided we'd pull over and wait out the storm.  I mean, seriously, how long could it rain with this intensity? Pffftttt.   I guess I forget I was in Indiana.

I remembered my basic Don't Be An Idiot classes and didn't park under a tree so that when said tree got struck by lightening it wouldn't fall on me.  (There's a flaw to this thinking though.  If you aren't near the highest point of something to get struck, you are the highest point to get struck. )  But I'm getting ahead of myself.  I didn't want to get bored, so while I turned the van off, I left the radio on, pulled the cell phone out (picture this - it was still the approximate size and weight of the 1828 Websters Dictionary) and called Peter, who was visiting with his kids and parents. We're chit-chatting about the lovely weather when...


I saw sparks.  And heard loud explosions.  And smelled burning electrical gizmos and rubber.  Pretty much all my senses were on overload.  The cell phone dropped from my hand, nearly putting a hole in the floorboard, and Chad started screaming, "We're going to die!  I'll never get to watch Barney again!" And then, silence. The rain was down to a steady downpour, the wind wasn't roaring. It was like the whole universe was holding it's breath, and I was fairly sure it was just waiting....for my van to blow up and kill us all.

"Ok, Chad, it's going to be all right."  I said this, but didn't really believe it, not at all.  I was just looking for the nearest shelter, ditch, guardian angel, really anything to save us from our imminent death.  But all I saw was corn. Corn, corn, and more stinking corn. There!  There was a cop!  I waved frantically at him as he came close, but he flipped me the bird and sped on by.  I remembered why I disliked Indiana so intensely.

The cell phone had been knocked out during the blast/explosion/whatever in the world that was, but after a few minutes I checked it again and had a signal.  Another call to Peter, who was happily playing Monopoly and didn't care that his wife nearly met St. Peter, not to mention his youngest child and unborn child dying and leaving him sad and alone for the rest of his born days.

"Hey, babe!  Why'd you hang up on me earlier?"

"I got struck by lighting."

"It's funny how you're always joking around.  Listen, I gotta go. Stephen keeps landing on my properties and if I don't pay attention he won't pay rent.  Call when you get to Indy so I know you're safe, all right? Love you."


"What?  Did you really need me?  Stephen, you are paying me $28. Don't you dare try to cheat."

"I really did get struck by lighting.  The car is broken down and won't run and something smells like it's burning and I don't know if I should get out or stay in and the stupid cop just flipped me off and I hate Indiana and I need you to come get me now so hurry up!"

"You got struck by lighting?"  Wonderful grasp of the obvious , my man.  He's very intelligent normally, but trying to play Monopoly takes all three of his brain cells.

In the background, my father-in-law Gordon yells, "Cars can't get struck by lightening. The tires ground them."  He takes the phone from Peter, repeats that, and we get into (another) argument, which is pretty much what we do about everything we talk about.  Like, "the sky is blue"/"no it's not" type conversations. Very relaxing. I highly recommend the next time you're in the mood for a nervous breakdown.

Finally I snapped and agreed, "Fine, I wasn't struck by lightening, but I am stuck on the side of the road in a storm, so can someone come get us? Please?" The please was said was seriously exaggerated sarcasm.

Twenty minutes later, they all show up, the whole dog and pony show.  Peter, his parents, and his kids (who, by the way, HATE my guts thanks to their mother telling them that I broke up their family.  That's right, people, I am all that!)  Gordon walks up to the van loudly given scientific explainations as to why my car wasn't struck by lighting (he has a PhD in physics - like that's not annoying).  My husband has enough sense or training - whatever - to walk straight to me and say with almost-sincere concern, "Oh, baby, are you okay?" 

Gordon has climbed on the roof of the van, finds the five holes caused by lightning and exclaims, "Kerri, you were struck by lightning!"

Duh.  Anyway, the damage was:  fried transmission, melted tires, and a fried radio.  Insurance fixed the transmission and I think the tires, but didn't seem to care about the radio.  Poor van was never the same again. And that's just sad, because it kind of sucked to begin with.

My theory was the cell phone attracted the lightning, since the strikes were directly over where I had the three foot antenna aimed. And something good did come from the whole shebang.  My stepson, who previously wouldn't speak to me if his leg was cut off and I held the bloody limb, thought it was so cool that I got struck by lightning, that he asked if he could ride around with me to see if it would happen again.

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