Humor by Jen Lancaster

My husband, Fletch, believes we should be prepared for any eventuality. Maybe it's his military training or perhaps he watches too much it's-the-end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it Discovery Channel programming. But for whatever reason, he's concerned an apocalypse will occur in our lifetime and when it happens, he assures me we'll be ready.

Bless his tin foil hat wearing-heart.

Fletch converted our basement to a veritable Army surplus store when we moved to the suburbs last year. Tucked between plastic tubs of ancient sorority sweatshirts and framed photos of me from a spectacularly big-haired time period, Fletch has been squirreling away everything from water purification tablets to Arctic weather-grade sleeping bags.

He promises nothing will catch us at unawares. Like, if a riot breaks out on the mean streets of Lake Forest? Perhaps in the main square by J. Crew or the Talbots? Across from the farmers market where they sell those magnificent heirloom tomatoes? Then his grenade simulators will disperse any crowd!

Chemical attack? No worries! Fletch's pre-measured sheets of window sealing-plastic and industrial strength duct tape are located on the shelf next to the box containing my Christmas nativity scene.

And if the Russians ever invade a la "Red Dawn," trust me when I say it will be Fletcher shouting "Wolverines!" and leading the counterattack.

If being ready is a virtue, then my man is Mother Teresa on steroids.

I, too, believe in being prepared. That's why you'll never find me without dental floss, an extra pair of sunglasses and a fully charged Kindle in my purse. Maybe I can't kill marauding communists from a bad '80s movie with these items, but I'm guaranteed to never squint, flash a spinach-laden smile or be forced to make awkward conversation in the checkout line at Costco.

We're finally put to the test almost a year after Fletch started stockpiling. The storm hits just as we're settling in for an evening of fine quality USA Network programming. Tornado sirens sound and we hustle anxious pets to the basement. We huddle in the interior corner by the abundant food and water supply, barely hearing the NOAA weather radio over the howling winds. That's when we lose power. So we illuminate the area with pre-staged lanterns, basking in the dim glow of prior preparation.

A quick post-storm stroll reveals that property damage is limited to downed trees, nothing Fletch can't fix with a gas-powered blade and a Kevlar chaps-type protective garment he calls his "chainsaw pants."

As we sit in the sticky darkness of our back porch after the storm, Fletch is content. I can't quite make out his smug look of self-satisfaction as he sits with his weapon at the ready, but I know it's there.

"You see how good it feels to be prepared?" he asks me as I read my Kindle by flashlight. While we were hunkered in the basement, all safe and secure from a raging storm, his preparations did feel good. But now? Not so much.

"I'm sorry," I reply, "I'm not able hear you over the roar of the neighbors' generators."

Of all the disaster supplies my husband's procured, the one he deemed unnecessary was a generator. "If the end of the world comes, what are we going to do when North Shore Gas stops pumping methane into our house?" he'd say every time I broached the subject.

"Look!" I point at the bright window next door. "They're watching 'Burn Notice'! Do you realize our neighborhood loses power one a quarter, while, despite your ample preparations, we've yet to experience a single zombie attack?"

He simply shrugs and gives me a beatific smile. "Power outages are temporary. Zombie wars are forever."

Unable to argue with that kind of logic, I return to my reading, but not before deciding to buy my own damn generator.

Because if the world's destined to end anyway? Then I'm going out with the lights on.

Humor & Satire

Humor & Funny Stories - That's the Night the Lights When Out (in Lake County)

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