Not My First Earthquake

By Paul DiSclafani
Like many Long Islanders, I wasn’t quite sure what happened when the house shook at 10:23 am on April 5th.
I was sitting on the edge of the bed, putting my shoes on (being retired is like scoring the late checkout in a hotel every morning), and not only felt something, but I saw everything vibrate for a few seconds. Living just a few hundred yards from the LIRR tracks in Massapequa, I can tell you that our house sometimes vibrates when the express train speeds by. But this wasn’t that.
At first, I thought it might be Louie the Labrador, who tends to shake the bed when leaning against the bed frame to scratch an itch. But this wasn’t that, either.
Just then, my son Kevin and his wife came up from downstairs wide-eyed and asked if I felt “that,” thus eliminating Louie the Labrador from the equation. I thought it might have been an earthquake. That made them smile. It was their first shared earthquake experience.
While I turned on the TV to find out what was happening, they immediately buried their heads in their phones for more immediate updates. Ah, the technology Generation Gap is clearly at work…
Soon, everyone was sharing their experiences. Every Tom, Dick, and Harry walking in Manhattan had the same story. Their bedroom, living room, kitchen, bathroom, or office shook. There was no property damage, just a lot of smiles and laughs. The novelty of experiencing a vibration from an earthquake in New York was all the rage.
I bet the people living in California laughed at all the media coverage our little earthquake received. It was not even a five-pointer (4.8, actually). Tell you what, buddy, when you break a dish or two, call us.
Although I also remember the strange shaking while working in Bethpage during the earthquake centered in Virginia in August 2011, that wasn’t my first earthquake experience. It was during my honeymoon in Acapulco in 1983 (insert your favorite earth-shaking honeymoon joke here).
It was just after midnight on the third night of our honeymoon. My wife had never been on a plane before or out of the Tri-State area. She was already saddled with some anxiety compounded by being a little under the weather at the time due to things many people experienced in Mexico in the days before bottled water.
I had the TV on, and everything in our room on the 25th floor shook violently. Frozen in place, I watched the water glass on the side table vibrate to the floor and saw the curtains shake. I stood up, and with my feet on the ground, the room shook again, so I felt it even more.
Reaching for the phone, I called the front desk to find out what happened.
“Nothing to worry about, sénior,” the voice on the phone said, “It’s just a small earthquake.”
“A small earthquake? I’m on the 25th floor. Should we get out of the building?”
“No, no, no, sénior, that’s not necessary. We get these things all the time.”
Needless to say, I slept with one eye open that night, waiting for the other shoe to drop. My wife insisted we pack up and go home. It took all my skills to talk her down from the ledge and reconsider our options in the morning.
Sometime around 8 am, we were jarred awake by the sound of explosions from Acapulco Bay. BOOM! BOOM! BOOM!
I ran to the window and saw giant warships in the bay firing rounds of ammunition. By now, my wife was already shoving clothes into suitcases. What did we get ourselves into? Earthquakes, warships, and having to spend way too much time in the bathroom? Somehow, I pictured my honeymoon going in a different direction.
Once again, I called the front desk to determine if we were under attack.
“Oh no, sénior. It’s just the military doing some exercises. Nothing to worry about, sénior.”
Apparently, the travel agent failed to inform us that Acapulco Bay is a military base in addition to experiencing multiple earthquakes every month.
Needless to say, we celebrated our first anniversary at the Montauk Manor.


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