He Got Game: Blackout Style

Advice you never asked for by someone who probably shouldn’t be providing any...

If you live in the Mid-West or Mid-Atlantic areas, there’s a good chance you had a strange weekend. For those of you outside the area who haven’t been keeping up with the weather around the nation’s capital*, some weird shit went down. Thanks to some record breaking heat, everyone in the DMV area learned what a Derecho is. Essentially, it’s a heat and humidity fueled storm that acts like a tornado if the wind doesn’t swirl. Popular accounts, including my own**, tell of a storm that appears suddenly, with little or no warning. Out of nowhere come winds as strong as 80-90 MPH. Within minutes, the rain and lightning start, followed by the massive power outages. Finally, the storm disappears after only a few minutes, as suddenly as it appeared.

*You mean Washington DC isn’t the center of the universe? Who knew?

**That’s right, I think I’m popular.

This is a picture from about a mile from my old neighborhood. Apparently, this specific tree is keeping about 1700 homes from getting power as of this morning.

This edition of “He Got Game” is a tribute to those of us who lost power, as well as the crazy number in the DC area who are still without power. I’m here to discuss five things to do when electricity has bailed on you. So, without further ado, sit back, relax, and learn how to step up your blackout game:

1. Company – Misery loves company so why sit in an unpowered house alone? If the power is knocked out due to a winter storm, I recommend finding a friend to cuddle with*. On the other hand, if your outage is caused by excess heat, cuddling may not be the best option. It may sound counter-intuitive but there’s always the option of a group cold shower**. However, if it’s too hot for some lovin’ then I still submit it’s better to suffer as a group than as individuals. If you’re lucky, maybe your friend will have power and you can mooch off of her/him.

*Conserve heat, sleep with a friend…

**Conserve water, shower with a friend…

2. Competitive Drinking – Now you’ve got some friends, whatever shall you do? Lets just say that there’s nothing like getting blacked out during  blackout. I fully recommend consuming copious amounts of alcohol, preferably while using mildly athletic activities as an excuse to spur the drinking on further. In my experience, there’s nothing to pass the time during a blackout quite like a 16 team beer pong tournament based loosely on an international soccer tournament. If you can’t rouse up 31 other friends to hold a tourney of that size, other good options include Flip Cup, FYS*, or a self made drinking game based on whatever radio happens to be playing info about power outages at the time.

*If you have to ask, you’re not (wo)man enough to play.

3. Board Games – Sometimes, the power outage hits you hard and booze isn’t an option.  Without fridges, the steady supply of cold brews quickly runs out.  In those moments, I like to compete on another level: good olde* fashioned boardgames. If you do have plenty of booze in supply, I recommend the version of Drunk Monopoly pioneered in the Groomsman Games.  If you are without booze, there are plenty of great options. Some of my favorites include the always popular Apples to Apples, Wits and Wagers, Mafia, or a simple game of cards**.  If you are stuck in without any girls*** and you want to go a little nerdier, I’d go with Dominion, Munchkin, or the timeless classic: Risk. If you’ve got the full setup, just go with Showdown tournament.

*Nobody should ever spell the word olde without the “e”

**Just ask Mrs. Eli how that game of Rummy 500 worked out.

***Yes this is a lazy stereotype but it is much easier to find a crowd for one of these games in a room full of guys than in a room full of girls.  It’s the exact opposite of rounding up a crowd to go see Magic Mike.

How about this? You catch the 7:40 showtime and I’ll post up for a 4 hour game of Munchkin with the guys…

4. The PO Life – Perhaps the greatest feature of the internet and smart phone era is that your friendly neighborhood blogosphere is now mobile and battery powered.  That means if you’ve got a night without power, you can always sift through the archives and catch up on old Friday Fives.

5. The Great Outdoors – There’s no substitute to mother nature, especially when she puts a bitch-slap on your man-made comfort zone. That’s why I say, “if you can’t beat her, join her!” If the day is too damn hot to sit around without A/C, go for a swim. If it’s too cold to huddle for warmth, have a snowball fight.

My favorite thing about this current outage was hanging out on the front stoop like it was the 1950’s again. Mrs. Eli and I decided to sit out by the street with the rest of our neighborhood. People were reading and listening to the radio. Kids were playing in sprinklers.  Dogs were too hot and tired to bark at one another so they just laid there, panting in the grass. When the power came on, the whole street erupted in cheers, it was like our team had just won the Superbowl! I haven’t shared a communal experience like that since we used to play kick the can down at the park at my old hood almost 20 years ago. We all celebrated, congratulated one another, and went back into our air conditioned houses to watch TV.

This weekend was hot. It was stressful. I saw a lot of crazed, desperate people do a lot of stupid, selfish things. I worried for my dog, my family, and my friends*. I stood shocked by the pictures of the damage done by the storm and the 14 people who died in weather-related incidents.

Through it all, I was shocked to find that I enjoyed myself the whole weekend.  It was nice, just for a little while, to get back to a world that didn’t rely quite so much on power.

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