The best laid hurricane mitigation plans of mice and men …

There was a lot of advice floating around in the pre-Irene period. Some of it was very good — water, batteries, food, the likelihood that power would remain out until the U.S. credit rating went back up — but some of it was pretty stupid. Tops on my list of idiotic advice was a tweet that ran past my pupils advising that the best way to spend the time hunkered down without power was with family and friends.

I am convinced this was written by a single man with no living relatives.

I mean, is he kidding? The best way to spend any length of time hunkered down without power is in an apartment, alone, with access to a city water supply and an ample supply of alcohol.

As it was, I found myself and my family (three young daughters and a wife) holed up at my mother-in-law’s house. With us were her husband, my step-brother-in-law, his wife and 2-year-old child, a female friend of the family, my dog, a pair of guinea pigs and a random 19-year-old French girl about whom I will say little to nothing more.

My mother-in-law, God bless her soul, did yeoman’s work (were there yeowomen? I’m not sure) getting everybody fed and preparing for the storm, but there was little she could do to feed all the starving egos.

“We need to plan,” my step-brother-in-law said. I politely pointed out that we had stockpiled food, water, flashlights, batteries, vodka, candles and matches, that we had filled all the tubs in advance, dug out the battery-powered radio and downloaded a hurricane-watch app on my smartphone.

“But we need to plan,” was his reply.

It was about this time that my mother-in-law decided that we needed to coordinate in advance, and come up with contingencies for every conceivable possibility. “If a tree falls on that side of the house, you should call us,” she told me, suggesting, perhaps, that she wouldn’t know and would need to be told.

The 2-year-old, delightful little imp that he is, has this habit of shrieking to get what he wants, which was not pleasant when what he wanted was to be taken outside in gale-force winds.

The French girl, on vacation for a month in New York and hiding out from the storm with our crew, gave the Francophones and Francophiles among us a chance to speak the language of Louis. The rest of us had to be content to listen in English, oblivious to the actual content of the conversation but assured that it was fascinating beyond compare.

The rest you can guess. Trees fell, power went out, nerves got strained and the whole weekend ended in murder most foul.

Not really, though that’s how I imagined it. The French girl in a maid’s outfit, needing to be comforted, the kids frightened, knowing that a killer was on the loose, suspicion falling on all of us (we all had a motive, of course) and the entire film taking place while the storm raged outside.

But, alas! There was no murder, though I admit to contemplating it once or twice and am confident I’m not the only one. I know more now than I ever have about Vogue and its many uses about Karl Lagerfeld (he was the drummer for Styx, right?) and about why staying at home, alone, is the best thing one can do during a hurricane.

Anyway, you know what they say — tout est bien qui finit bien.

Jordan Fenster is the entertainment editor at the New Haven Register. He can be reached by email at Follow us on Twitter at or find us at To receive breaking news first – simply text the word nhnews to 22700. Standard msg+data rates may apply.


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