HPFM: Avoid it at all costs!

Published 10:18 am Monday, September 17, 2018

You know what I never buy until I know a hurricane is coming?


Yes, that canned congealed pork meat stuffed into a rectangular can about six inches-by-two inches and a half-inch thick.

I ate a lot of Spam when I was away at school. You boil it on your hotplate (bear with me you millennials, college kids actually once cooked that way!), crack open the can and let that simmering ooze just plop down on your plate. Grab a knife, loaf of bread, condiments of your choosing, and – Voila! – you can feed an entire dorm floor.

Right now, today, I’ve got enough Spam in my pantry to feed a US Army battalion. Why? Because most of its stored up from the last hurricane two years ago. Heck, nine cans is about a 20-year supply.

Why do I bring this up? Because making sure the Spam is there – among other essentials – keeps me from going into HPFM: Hurricane Preparedness Freakout Mode. That acronym, I have to confess, originated with Florida humorist Dave Barry a year or so ago. HPFM is what happens when you invade your local Food Lion, Piggly-Wiggly, or other market, ready to stab a sweet-looking 86-year-old grandmother in the hand when she’s reaching for that last loaf of Wonder Bread.

It’s also when you binge shop on mass quantities of things you know you’re not going to eat. IGA could put out a big display of cans labeled “Gopher Entrails Marinated in Snake Vomit” and when HPFM hits, we Carolinians are ready to clean out the shelves. That’s how prepared we want to be.

Now I did buy a couple of giant jars of Peanut Butter – even the crunchy kind that’s not really my favorite – because I’ll actually eat the stuff over time (like about five weeks!). I’ll slather it on whole wheat bread while binge watching Jim Cantore or whomever with the Weather Channel live on TV from Wrightsville Beach’s Johnnie Mercer’s Pier predicting gloom and doom. Come to think of it, I’ll probably watch and eat so much, it’ll be gone before Florence gets here.

When we’re not eating our hurricane supplies or waiting in line to buy more, we’re going on the Internet to check the computer models, or drawing a line on my sponsored hurricane map. The models are supposed to be telling me where these weather geeks think the hurricane will go. Checking these lines and listening to their forecasting makes me nervous, so I try not to do it too often. Like about once every four minutes is plenty.

The ones I love are the European model. They’re the ones who usually have the storm going away from North Carolina. Funny how the European models never have it going out the sea, making a hard-northeasterly turn and slamming into Iceland or Scotland. And there’s always a line that has it aiming straight for a certain house in Bertie County. There ought to be a little square at the end of that one marked ‘Gene’s House’. I sure wish computer models could let you move the lines like on MapQuest; bet you know where I’d take them.

Seems I can stockpile Spam, but I can’t go out and buy a generator. You know, one of those whole-house jobs the size of a floating blimp, and probably costs as much. I said I was going to buy one when I lived in the Wilmington hurricane zone where those storms frequently knocked out power and after a couple of days of being squeamish about washing in what feels like ice-cold tap water, I end up smelling like rotting underwear. I did once try to bathe in the Cape Fear River – sort of a John the Baptist feeling – but I got sick from all the floating sewage. I think now I’ll stick to the icicles; I’ll just ditch the soap that floats.

Anyway, seems I always think of getting a generator when the storm is like 300 miles from Hatteras. I’m not figuring in the electrician, their equipment, time and expense, installing a transfer switch at the panel, or the fumes from either the gasoline or the propane. Oh, yes … that dummy whistling in the dark over there, that’s me.

So, to summarize, my checklist of hurricane preparedness:

POWER: Nope.

PEANUT BUTTER: Almost gone.

SPAM: Plenty!

Seriously, I hope that you SERIOUSLY prepared, and that we all come out of this OK. But whatever happens, I am confident that when it’s over, we will come together, just one big happy family of mankind, and ready to beat you senseless in the gasoline line. And I’ll be striking you with a can of Spam!


Gene Motley is a Staff Writer at Roanoke-Chowan Publications. Contact him at gene.motley@r-cnews.com or 252-332-7211.