×

Tornado bunker

On Christmas, my husband got a signed picture of Carson Wentz, the quarterback of his favorite football team, the Philadelphia Eagles. He didn’t get it from me.

“Great,” he said. “For the man cave.”

He caught my eye across the room and added the word “someday.”

The picture went to our unfinished basement, joining a Nick Foles-signed Super Bowl LII football and his boxes and boxes of CDs, records, music memorabilia and framed Salvador Dali prints.

He thinks he will get a man cave someday.

I do not share this thinking. Perhaps if I were like Cheryl, with my own chichi “she shed,” I’d feel differently, but I doubt it. First of all, I’m not particularly chichi. I’d swap out the chandelier for a disco ball, and rather than relax and paint my nails, I’d wind up bringing in story ideas to work on. Inevitably, in just a few days, my she shed would look more like John Nash’s office in the 1970s, the reflective mirrors of the disco ball highlighting all the toys and food wrappers my children would surely trash the place with when they decide “she shed” is just another name for “new playroom.”

Perhaps that is the point. We have young children, which means our limited funds are better spent on family than on any individual. Sorry, football memorabilia and fog machine, but you’re staying in storage for now.

Someday we may have our own spaces. But for now, we are considering what we could do with the basement in a sooner someday. If we finished the basement, how would we finish it? There have been dreamy talks of a pool table. Of a pingpong table. Of an air hockey table. Of an office. Of a game room. Of a guest room. Of another playroom. Of a boom-boom room. Oh, wait. Is that not the name of a place where your band practices? Never mind. Scratch that. Of a band room. Every year, we fantasize about finishing our basement, and every year, we knock down the idea for one reason or another. It never seems to be quite the right time. It never seems worth the money. But this morning, I got a new idea: big beautiful bouncy bunker.

A massive storm is making its way across the United States as I’m writing this, bringing heavy winds, tornadoes and more. Our local newspaper warned us to be on alert. The tornado warnings may come at any time. They may come at 2 a.m. They have many times before.

I am your average neurotic mother. I think about the ways in which my children might die at least once a day. Sometimes it’s an alligator in the sewer or getting pooped on by a bird carrying infectious brain-eating parasites. Other times, it’s a more grounded fear, such as being shot or a tornado.

The first time our phones alerted us to a tornado’s touching down in our area of the wild, my husband and I didn’t know what to do. We were new to tornadoes. Neighbors had told us a tornado ripped off the roof of our kids’ school. Neighbors had told us they used to come over to bunker in our basement. We were lucky to have a basement. And it’s true. We are.

But in the dozen times we’ve been sent downstairs, we’ve done nothing to make it a nice experience — stepping around still-unpacked boxes from the move, placing our once-sleeping children on the cold concrete floor.

Perhaps this can be the change: Make it a basement honoring not Eagles touchdowns but tornado touchdowns. We could paint murals of calm skies on the walls, put in a floor made entirely of padded cushions for ease of placing down sleeping kids. We could put in drawers of flashlights and candles and stick glow-in-the-dark stars on the ceiling. We could have a pullout couch for the long nights, a mini trampoline for the long days, board games and, yes, maybe even a picture of Carson Wentz on the wall, lit up by my spinning disco ball.

——

Katie Langrock is a

nationally syndicated columnist.