Where were you,
when the winds blew,
and the limbs flew?
Where were you,
when the sparks flew,
and the power went too --
and the teenagers cried:
“Now what do we do?”
Southern California's devastating windstorm toppled trees, damaged homes and cars, and knocked out power to thousands, forcing numerous schools to call off classes.
It's the combination of those last two, frankly, that caused real headaches.
Thousands of teenagers, members of the most wired generation in history, were suddenly confronted with their worst nightmare: Forced to be home with mom or dad, and denied the three basic necessities of life -- TVs, computers and smartphones.
That wasn't just the wind you heard shrieking.
At my house, the conversations went something like this:
Son No. 2: I need to call [blank] (name removed to protect the innocent).
Mom: Go ahead, this phone works (points to ancient touch-tone land-line phone with a cord in living room).
Son: But you'll be able to hear what I'm saying.
Mom: That's right.
Son No. 1 (after letting said phone ring 10 times): Hello?
Son No. 1: Oh, I didn't know that was our phone ringing. I mean, I heard it ringing, but I didn't know what it was.
Dad: That's our old land-line phone.
Son No. 1: Yea. You know, this is kinda cool.
Still, on a stormy day, they were among the haves: Those with land lines. (Tell me again, oh techno wizards, how it's so '80s to keep a land line?)
Mostly, though, it was retro-day for kids and parents, with a real mid-20th century vibe.
How do you tell time when the power's out? How about the 50-year-old grandfather clock. Or that battery-powered travel alarm.
And what do kids do when "there's nothing to do"?
I slept in.
I read all day.
I got all my homework done in record time because there were no distractions.
I (take your pick) hung out with friends, played ultimate Frisbee or basketball, went for a walk, drove around. (The latter was especially popular because -– ever the survivalists -– kids knew that they could kill two birds with one stone: Ditch their parents and charge their devices.)
As the day wore on, folks discovered old truths. Such as how dark it gets at 5 in the afternoon when there are no lights. And how -- even when charged -- today's high-tech devices devour power and run down batteries.
In the '60s, we turned on, tuned in and dropped out.
Today's kids just want to plug back in.
Of course, they'll get their wish. The power will come back. Modern life will return.
Still, it was kinda, uh, what's the word? Oh yea: Cool.
Photo: Felled trees and a power line at Longden Avenue at San Gabriel Boulevard. Credit: Ken Kwok / Los Angeles Times