You may have heard about a big East Coast blizzard hitting soon. Big storms are like the crimes on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, in that they happen everywhere, but always get more coverage when they happen to New Yorkers.
Wherever you are, though, riding out a climactic weather event can go one of two ways: Either you fill yourself with Storm Chili and Miller High Life, or you end up having to be shuttled to a FEMA trailer by the fire department. Obviously, one of these paths is better than the other, and the difference is preparation.
Your preparedness amounts to three things: food, drinks, and entertainment. For our purposes, we're assuming you're getting together with your friends and/or roommates to ride out the catastrophe in relative comfort. If you're alone, pare down the food and drink to serve one and ignore the entertainment section—you don't need me telling you how to masturbate. The rest of you: Come with me if you want to live.
- Ground beef
- Hot sauce
The most important thing during a storm is a giant pot of chili. Chili is delicious, cheap, filling, keeps well and is fun to cook. If you don't know how to make chili, learn. Your chili pot should have no fewer than two (preferably three) servings per person, plus rice to fill it out. While you're at the market, grab backup rice, beans, meat, and a few eggs (plus, yeah, toilet paper) so you can subsist on a rotating diet of chili, fried rice, huevos rancheros, and rice & beans until gastric distress forces you to one of the few open hospitals.
- Fancy cocktail fixings
- Juice and coffee
Obviously, a key component of riding out any storm is enough booze. With nothing else to do, you're going to need to make the hours go by faster; gazing from your empty fridge out into the storm and back is enough to instill madness. I recommend around 10 beers per person per day for indoor storm survival. Spread out over roughly 14 hours, this amount keeps everyone loose and sleepy without drumming up latent anger or mania.
Additionally, a fun way to pass the storm is a Group Cocktail. Yes, that's mostly the domain of that shrill type of person who needs to event-ize everything—this is the exception. Having a giant bowl of Hurricane Punch or a White Russian station is a great way to keep the gang from slipping into a state of pure torpor.
Juice and coffee are essential components of waking up on a stormy morning. Your mouth probably tastes like chili and beer; you just slept 16 hours; and you need something, anything that doesn't taste like day-old hops. Lo and behold, a glass of OJ and a cup of coffee, and you're happily drifting through the diner in your mind.
Finally, you'll also want water. This should be coming out of the tap. Water not coming out of the tap is a major red flag. Honestly, if you think you're going to lose water and you're buying those water-cooler jugs, just leave. Mosey. If you've got a five-hour head start on the storm, you can be relaxing in a hotel in an entirely different climate zone by the time your friends even discover that their supermarket has become a cannibal holocaust devoid of even kale.
- Bootleg movies
- Tea candles
- Hand-cranked flashlight-radio combo
In most cases, your biggest risk during the storm is neither starvation nor dehydration: It's cabin fever. Needlessly escalating drama and the unearthing of secrets can either occur within your TV or in front of it, and if you're going to be trapped with all these people, you'll prefer the former. The real storm should not be of human emotion.
The combination of good music and collaborative cooking followed by a bootleg movie/Netflix marathon is a classic for a reason. For best results, develop a theme early. Watch a good season of The Simpsons, or do the Star Wars thing, or find out which James Bond movie is the most racist.
But all that, of course, depends on your continued connection to the power grid. If you think you might lose electricity etc., you'll need a backup plan. I personally enjoy lighting a ton of tea candles, literally cranking up a Spanish-language station on the flashlight-radio, and playing a game known as Quiz Hat.
The first thing you need to know about Quiz Hat is there are no rules, and there are no points. Okay, there are a couple rules, but it's mostly procedural.
- One person (aka the Quizzler) asks a question aloud.
- Everyone, including the Quizzler, writes their answers down and puts them in a hat.
- The Quizzler reads all the answers aloud and then tries to guess who wrote what. When he or she is wrong, pass the hat to his/her left and the next person begins guessing.
- Eventually, the final person is guessed correctly. That person is the new Quizzler.
This sounds like a simple game, and perhaps it is. But its surface plainness belies the most shocking opportunities for slander, subterfuge, and transgression that I have ever witnessed. I have seen people write offensive first-person narratives that the Quizzler is forced to read aloud. I have seen people deliberately doctor their handwriting to shift blame for some atrocious remark. I have heard someone name a robot "The Waiter Hater." You may think that this sounds like a high school improv Cards Against Humanity rip-off. You are wrong. There is no room for ironic removal in a blizzard.
Eventually, your supplies of beer and chili and Quiz Hat tolerance will be exhausted. Like all good things, the storm must end. If it's an urban blizzard, you'll be left with an impossible quantity of greasy slush and road salt that will soak you to the bone and ruin everything it touches. If you're anywhere else, the plowman has recreated The Wall from Game of Thrones at the end of your driveway. There is almost no way to avoid any of this. Put on your big boots, shovel yourself out, and get trudging. Winter is only beginning.
Samuel Wadhams grew up hard in Vermont and now grows soft in New York. He is not an expert on anything. Occasionally, he tweets here.
Photo from ShutterStock.
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