Friday, March 26, 2010

Lying Gil Patrick

It’s raining again and right now we need more rain like Custer needed a few more Sioux. Of course, like Custer, we cannot do a whole lot about it. The rain will fall and I will not get to burn anything today, and because it is raining I can’t wash the mutt blankets. I go to the laundry mat to wash the mutt blankets but when it rains all the poor women go to the laundry mat because they cannot dry their clothes outside. I’m usually the only guy in the laundry mat when I go and it makes me feel a little like I’m in the women’s bathroom or something. Now that I’m off night shift I’ll have to wait until next weekend to wash the dog’s blankets, so along with the rain, the bedroom will smell a little more doggie than normal.

Last Thursday the forecast was for the rain to stop late in the day, and the contractors would have been able to get done. But then the forecast was for the rain to stop in the early evening, which meant they were going to be delayed. So they went ahead and checked out of their motel rooms, loaded up, and waited for the rain to stop. The Weather Channel then upped the forecast for the rain to stop by nine, which meant they were screwed, and had to get their rooms back. Then the Weather Channel said rain stopping by midnight, and finally they threw in the towel and said Friday would be mostly cloudy, and Thursday just didn’t exist anymore.
Weather people are the only form of news we get that we assume might be right some of the time, and might be wrong some of the time, yet we still plan our lives by this information. It’s gotten a lot more accurate, I’ll give them that, but at the same time I miss the good old days when a man dressed in a bad suit would stick magnetic weather indicators to a metal map of the United States and Georgia, and tell us the chances of it raining on the 4th of July.
If you ever want to fit in with a bunch of the old timers in Sowega, just sit down at a table in the local breakfast place and say something like, “I sure do miss Lyin’ Gil Patrick.” Gil Patrick was the guy in the bad suit with the magnetic cutout of a thunder storm that wouldn’t stick half the time. That was part of the entertainment in watching Lying Gil do the weather because you never knew when there was going to be a magnet malfunction. In 1977, he missed predicting the snow storm that hit South Georgia, and in the middle of the weather someone threw a snowball at him in the studio, on the air, and Gil looked mad enough to kill.
Now, Gil Patrick wasn’t really a liar; he was simply wrong more often than most weathermen because he was around longer than most weathermen. Back before technology improved, such as it has, Gil and everyone else had to rely on what they had, which wasn’t much. The one true bad habit he had was not trusting the National Weather Service, and sometimes he would say, “Well, the National Weather Service thinks this but I think…” He did that one time when a hurricane was in the Gulf Of Mexico and he told us the National Weather Service had predicted the storm was going to head right for us, but he thought it was going to go west, and hit Alabama, or Mississippi. The damn thing picked up speed and went straight for Gil’s throat. It didn’t slow him down a bit though. He knew what he knew, and truthfully, Gil Patrick did the weather better than most.

The one thing I liked about Gil Patrick was he would always tell you if he was wrong, and then explain what happened to screw up his predictions. Okay, maybe I know nothing at all about meteorology, and maybe Gil was just vamping his way through it, but at the same time, look at The Weather Channel with all their billions of dollars worth of equipment, and they blew the hell out of last Thursday forecast. And have they tried to explain what went wrong? I think not!

I wonder what happened to those Weather Magnets. Did Gil stash them away somewhere, and leave them to his kids, or grandkids? Now weathermen have touch screen computers that cover an area the size of a wall, yet some of them still wear bad suits. Day in and day out, rain or shine, Gil Patrick delivered the weather with what now looks like primitive tools, the weatherman’s version of making fire banging two sticks together, and yet, for all the things that went wrong back then, it was a part of the evolution of a craft, a part of a science that is still not perfect, and it was a part of everyone’s life, too.
Suddenly, I miss Gil Patrick, which wasn’t where I was heading when I sat down to write. I remember my grandmother’s tiny black and white television, and the smell of the country fried steak, and I remember wondering what it was like to know what the weather was going to do before it did it. I realize now I do not remember anyone else from the news show, and I don’t remember anyone else as a weatherman, and suddenly, Lyin’ Gil Patrick, for all the times we sat around and grumbled about it raining when it he told us it wasn’t going to rain, well, damn, now I’ve gone and started missing him.

I did an internet search for him and there isn’t anything there, except some five second video clip. Gil Patrick and his Weather Magnets are all gone now. All we’re left with is some giant Weather Station that doesn’t even fess up when its wrong.

Gil Patrick, wherever you are, I hope the sun is shining, a warm breeze is blowing, and I hope the weather stays beautiful.

Take Care,

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