Bored, I kicked my short legs against the back of the passenger seat in front of me.
“Mooooom! Make him stop!” My sister whined.
“Short round, you may be outta reach, but I’m at home all day with your toys. Bad things can happen.”
This was one of her regular threats. I called her on it once, and came home to find all my Batman toys sequestered to the top of the fridge.
I hadn’t tested her since.
“Don’t see why we have to go to stupid school anyway. Bobby Miller said there’s gonna be an earthquake. So did the man on the TV last night.”
“Well, if Bobby Miller’s anything like the man on TV, he’s an utter moron.”
That took me aback. Had my mother really just called the most popular kid in my grade an utter moron? I decided to try a different approach.
“But, no one’s gonna be there.”
“Perfect. Time to ask really deep questions.”
She stopped at the pedestrian crossing next to school and let us out.
“Hey, kids,” she shouted after us. “Just in case Bobby Miller’s not an utter moron, don’t forget to duck and cover!”
My mother was a strange woman.
In 1990, Iben Browning predicted that the New Madrid Fault, to which Memphis is uncomfortably close, would experience an earthquake of a magnitude of about 7.0 on a certain day. Despite the fact that Browning had no credentials or experience to make a prediction like this, international media lept on the story, and set off a wildfire of public worry. Of course nothing happened, but, it didn’t stop the city from turning into a ghost town the day he predicted the earthquake to hit.