As the work day winds down, many of us who live in the parts of the East Coast still without power have to face the somewhat grim prospect of trudging off back into the dark and somehow occupying ourselves until it is morning again and time to, sigh, go back to work. So how best to entertain oneself? Here are some suggestions based on our own past two nights of candlelit tedium.
1. Play 20 Questions until you literally cannot think of another person, place, or thing. Sit in frustrating silence for minutes on end while your friend/lover/whoever tries to figure out what you're thinking of. Are you that cup on the table? Are you a crossbow? Are you that kid I hooked up with in college who now drives a pedicab? It can go on for hours. Once that gets old find a similar but altered game called Botticelli and play that at the one bar in your neighborhood that is open until you run out of cash and are forced to disappear back into the black.
2. Theorize about when the lights are going to come back on. Never acknowledge that you're doing this, but make a game out of offering the direr prediction. If your blackout mate says, "I think it'll be three days," you counter with, "No, it's going to be a week. There was an explosion, after all." Theorize about things getting hairy in your neighborhood, based solely on one agitated group of people waiting for a bus that you passed by that afternoon. "Things are going to get really bad before they get better," you should say in a grave tone. Shake your head, weary at the chaos of this new and terrible world. Secretly hope, and in some strange childish way assume, that the power is coming back on any minute now.
3. Oscillate between feeling like a cozy survivor on a whimsical, poetic adventure and despairing at the fact that there's no hot water (and in some cases no water at all), you're bored to tears, and you're scared to be alone. One minute you'll look at the candle and hear the crackling of the crank radio broadcast and think something akin to "I'll remember this forever!" The next you'll be standing in a dark bathroom pawing cold water onto your face, planning your escape route to somewhere, anywhere, that isn't this ruined wasteland.
4. This should go without saying, but, yes, drink. Not to extreme excess, you technically still have a job after all, but, y'know, ain't many better ways to pass a few screen-less hours than opening a bottle of something red or brown and gettin' a little loose. Plus it adds to that whole feeling poetic thing, a sentiment that will lead to some nice maudlin personsal essay writing in the future.
5. Stare at the wall for a while. This will happen at some point, so just give into it.
6. Try to sing the entirety of Rent from start to finish. Your success mostly depends on how dedicated you've been to item four. Though, sober or not, it's going to be hard. Sure you knew the whole Rent soundtrack from beginning to end at one point, but that was like sixteen years ago.
7. Sixteen years? Jesus. Think about that for a while as you watch the dying flashlight get dimmer and dimmer.
8. There's probably another bottle somewhere. Maybe on top of the fridge? Go look.
9. If you're lucky enough to be with a special friend, I suppose you should indulge in a little storm sex. Well, actually, storm sex was Monday night (look for babies named Sandy come July). This is blackout sex, which is different. It's probably a little needier, a little less fun and frivolous and more, like, emotional or something. But at least it's something to do. If you, like so many of us (sigh), do not find yourself presented with such an opportunity, well there's always that reliable old starin' wall waiting for you.
10. Try to put this whole thing in perspective. Remember something you read about Khartoum once, how they basically never have power there. Realize that thing was written almost 25 years ago, so maybe things have changed there, but still the point is that you're only without power for a few days. And you still have water and food and cigarettes and Malbec and the promise of a world of electricity just thirty blocks away. Try to remember that other places have it way worse for way longer stretches of time and hope that knowledge helps you appreciate how lucky you really are despite this minor setback.
11. Realize that perspective is for jerks and declare yourself the most miserable, put-upon person in the world. Blow out the candle, curl up in bed, and go to sleep. Dream of television.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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