By Reid Collins on 9.23.05 @ 12:06AM
This personification business applied to disaster has gone too far. It affords the anchors too much elan to refer to “Rita” as if she were a girlfriend waiting out in the car. The moniker “Rita” is especially abhorrent because it reminds adult males of one Rita Hayworth, the “Love Goddess” of a score of forgettable movies (and a couple worthwhile) who could do more to win a war while posing in a nightgown on a bed than Oppenheimer could do with that little gadget in New Mexico.
So stop. Stop maligning the memory of Margarita Carmen Cansino, the 5’ 6” Brooklyn dancer who as Rita Hayworth made strong men weep. (And married five of them.) Legend has it the margarita cocktail was named for her in Tijuana and if not it should have been. I doubt not that in the hearts of some the name “Katrina” has fond significance also, and there are those who wince at the use of that given name not just for the $200 billion price tag but for reasons closer to the heart than the wallet.
Let’s find some designation less personal than names of real people as markers for what are after all impersonal acts of nature.
I know not now what the thing called “Rita” has in store for the Gulf Coast, but I got an ominous hint the other day when my service station owner, Tom Gouger, installed starting blocks in the doorway of his station, the better to race out and elevate the prices for gallon on the sign out front. As I explained to him, “When the looting starts, this is the first place we hit.”
By any name, the Gulf Hurricane blows some benefit. The pork attached to such omnibus measures as highway bills is getting a little media review. The bridge to a virtually uninhabited island in Alaska is becoming a national joke. The days of the midnight amendment may be numbered. Congress may have to repair to the sane policy of individual measures with specific price tags, and a record vote on each. On that day we may truthfully say, “it was an ill wind that blew some good.”
Meanwhile, let us depersonify these storms, assign them a number if need be, and more carefully explain the slight differences in the “catagorization” of said storms as far as wind velocity and storm surge is concerned. That way “a five” will not call for wide-eyed alarm at the anchor desk any more than “a four” requires concealment of disappointment.
That thing out in the Gulf is not deserving of the name, “Rita.” The zephyr of the real Rita will waft through aging hearts long after the imposter leaves.
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