© St. Petersburg Times, published June 21, 2002
RAIN. Finally, South Tampa gets some.
Regrettably, it comes with lightning bolts and thunder -- and therefore, the sudden appearance of panting, 65-pound golden retrievers in one's lap.
"I am your hunter-gatherer," I tell them, "not your Zap Cap."
ROADS flood. An upside-down trash can lid floats down my brick street, making its way toward Hillsborough Bay. Some poor fool will miss it, I think, before I realize that I am that poor fool.
Down the street, Atlantis, the ancient crossing of Neptune and Dale Mabry, swallows cars whole. Suddenly my SUV has a purpose other than to guzzle gas.
WERE I the mayor, of course, I would put builders of the new Steak n Shake (demolished and recreated in just 10 weeks) in charge of drainage.
They could take on Interstate 275 construction as well.
And maybe the new museum.
I would send them to the Middle East to negotiate peace. The Palestinian state would appear overnight, trimmed in black and white checkerboard.
INSTEAD, I calculate risks: How bad of a hair day will I have if this lightning strikes the hair dryer? Is it better to hold it only with fingertips?
If I run, not walk, to the washing machine in the detached garage to retrieve my clothes, am I any less likely to be struck?
Will anti-static fabric softener shield me?
IF I ENTER the lightning-filled yard to fetch the dog's rubber ball -- to keep him from eating the rug while he obsesses about the weather -- will altruism protect me?
If I go on the Internet to track the storm's progress, will my computer get zapped by a bolt? If I unplug the TV to be safe, will I miss a tornado bulletin?
THE RAIN will disappear only if we install new sod. I learned this last year.
For now, it pours.
Where once there was dead, brown grass, there is now wet, dead, brown grass.
The prickly 8-foot cactus, hoarding water, gloats with big white flowers that speak to me: "Come near us," they say sweetly, "and you'll bleed."
SUMMER, glorious summer, begins today.
Soon, there will be fireworks to be rained out. Followed by soggy picnics. And, with any luck, muddy paw prints.
Does life get better than this?
-- Tampa's Kennedy Boulevard was once called Grand Central. Now Grand Central is a weekly City Times column. Writer Patty Ryan can be reached at 226-3382 or firstname.lastname@example.org.