I am utterly convinced our popcorn machine controls the weather.
It was a birthday gift some years ago from my parents to my wife, Mandy, who for reasons beyond my comprehension had gotten a notion that it might be nice to own a popcorn machine. Not one of those small, counter top ones, but a freestanding, wheeled corn-popping device that would provide a bounty of buttery deliciousness to guests at all manner of social functions we rarely host.
As is my way about most things, I was less than pleased when my parents indulged this particular whim and showed up one day with the wholly impractical piece of kitchenware. Standing roughly the size of man and featuring a heavy cooking chamber made mostly of glass, the device is a disastrous mix of being difficult to maneuver, impossible to store and fragile.
Because we live in a relatively small house, storing the machine was immediately an issue. It’s purpose is so specific we couldn’t possibly leave it standing in the kitchen permanently. Mostly, the popcorn machine just lives in our hallway closet, home to all the random things that are used just frequently enough to avoid being shoved in the attic. Or, as is the case with the popcorn machine, too cumbersome to be dragged up the attic stairs.
But then I discovered the popcorn machine controlled the weather.
Structurally, the hallway of our home is easily the place to be when tornadoes threaten our neighborhood, as has been the case repeatedly in recent days. Normally, when radar maps of our area look like Oscar the Grouch with a profuse nosebleed, the family huddles in the hallway together … cranky cats and all … until the danger passes.
Last week, Mandy realized if the hallway is the safest part of our house, then the hallway closet is obviously the safest part of the safest part of the house. Therefore, by her reasoning, we should all cram in there.
Which is a fine idea, except that’s where the dang popcorn machine lives. Even if there were room for two adults, a 4-year-old, three cats and a popcorn machine inside that closet, I’ll be darned if a tornado is going to destroy my house and not take that dagburned thing with it.
So when forecasters suggested a recent storm front might rend our neighborhood from this earth, I spent a frustrating chunk of the morning preparing for our inevitable doom struggling to relocate the popcorn machine to that odd room in our house we rarely use.
The gesture proved pointless. Although the storm rolled through the neighborhood as predicted, the wind didn’t so much as knock a branch from the tree in our front yard. Back in the closet the popcorn machine went. Until a few days later, that is. Forecasters again predicted the storm front headed our way would usher in the apocalypse. Last time we got lucky, they said. No way that would happen twice.
So, after another 15-minute battle, our closet was once again emptied of that infernal popcorn machine and ready to welcome us into the safety of its cluttered bosom.
And again, nothing. The storm passed overhead, noisily threatening to kill us all as it did so, but ultimately left us untouched.
My suspicions were confirmed last week when I awoke in the middle of the night to the city’s tornado siren. We scrambled into the hallway as the siren wailed outside our window. Radars showed an ominous ocean of red directly over us. I told my wife I knew what to do.
Minutes later – the popcorn machine sharing the hallway with the rest of the family and the din of rainfall and klaxon’s call already fading – the meteorologist said the storm had changed directions. We could return to our beds and sleep comfortably, knowing we’d been spared the worst.
I left the popcorn machine standing in the hallway, just in case.
ADAM ARMOUR is the news editor for the Daily Journal and former general manager of The Itawamba County Times. You may reach him via his Twitter handle, @admarmr.