Before hitting land on the eastern seaboard, Hurricane Sandy stopped in Cuba, where my family was on vacation last week. Being rainy season down south, it was a cheap time to travel. What a deal, they thought. So, on a whim, they had booked a week-long trip to warmer climes.
After a few days in the sun, they were told to stay in their rooms one night – retreating to the bathroom if necessary – as Sandy came through.
The next morning, there was no running water (there wouldn’t be for the two days that followed). There were tree branches in the pool. The patio was closed. So was the bar.
Halfway through their all-expenses paid resort vacation, they were spending their days fetching buckets of water from the pool to refill the toilet.
What was a comedy for my family in Cuba was more serious, but no less cinematic, in New York. In reporting Hurricane Sandy, CNN shied away from using the word “Frankenstorm.” But it seemed so perfect.
Under a full moon, the hurricane combined with a cold front sweeping north. Halloween was only days away as the storm left millions in the dark.
Parts of the city were evacuated. Buildings crumbled. Homes were flooded. People died.
All this is to say that, when I go out tonight, I’ll do so with hopes that I see someone dressed as a windswept Olivia Newton-John. (Get it?)
Too soon? Too insensitive?
I’m reminded of a Halloween party I went to a few years back, where two brothers, twins, dressed as the iconic pair of New York towers in the World Trade Centre that were hit and destroyed in the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Their decorated cardboard boxes were complete with model planes, flames and falling stick people.
In every tragedy, there’s a little comedy. There is, of course, more comedy in some than others – or at least, the humour is a little darker in some. Thinking of my family taking a trip to a Cuban resort’s pool every time they want to go number two – that’s funny. The twins in cardboard towers, though, might have found the far extreme.
But if there’s one time to celebrate whatever humour you can find amidst terror, it’s Halloween. Once your trick-or-treating days are over, the holiday isn’t meant to be a wholesome one. So I hope you dressed up and remembered not to get offended.
I write this editorial in costume. Hurricane Sandy, if you happen to see a guy dressed as Bob Dylan at Motown tonight, save a dance for him.