No one has ever truly spoken about this, or written about it. No extensive research – or any research, for that matter – has been conducted on the subject. I say this with calm assurance after extensive research of my own, i.e. a good twenty minutes spent googling this rich, even potentially pornographic or, at any rate, highly romantic, area of human behavior.
So what are we talking about? I’ll give it to you straight, no chaser: Hurricanes make people horny.
Now, please, you bleeding hearts out there, I realize these abominable storms also have the capacity to make people dead and drowned. That’s tragic, no argument. But we’re not going to that place. Not today.
What I’ve noticed over the years about storms and sex is that, even as trees bash the roofs of their houses, and wind rages like a banshee around the windows, people engage in some of the best amorous encounters of their lives.
And why wouldn’t they? Think of Heathcliff crying for Catherine (or was it Stella?) as he trod the storm-wracked moors. Would Wuthering Heights be so romantic set in San Diego, where the sun shines brightly and azaleas bloom all year round?
Those of us who’ve lived through X number of storms fully understand that when the Weather Channel goes ballistic with a hurricane watch, we have no idea what we’re lookin’ at. It could be, at the very least, a savagely windy, rain-spitty day, or it could be Armageddon, such as the Big Blow of 1898, a.k.a. The Storm of The Century, that was mourned up and down the Eastern seaboard. (I myself was just a baby at the time, so I can’t contribute much in the way of eyewitness information.)
Fast forward a hundred years later to a Labor Day storm warning that cleared the Island of all visitors: North-bound ferries had passengers hanging off the gunwales to get away. Here on the Island, people dutifully taped windows, bought candles, cans of beans, and jugs of water. Once the storm arrived, it was dramatic but none too lethal. In other words, it had the perfect elements for nookie.
In the aftermath, here’s a report I received first-hand:
A fisherman: “Several lady friends needed comfort during the storm. I spent a lot of time driving my jeep around fallen trees and straight through mini-tornados. At one point, I took my boat over to Chappy, and the water was washing over the bow. But I think I won some extra brownie points in the love department.”
And this was before Viagra!
During the Perfect Storm in October of ’91, a blast from all sides that we wittily called at the time, The No Name Storm, I heard this from a New York fashion designer with a home in Aquinnah: “I had several guests staying that week, and they all volunteered to remain with me. Well, one of them was this guy friend who owns a boutique on Madison Avenue. I never thought of him in, you know, that way, but once the storm hit, we snuck up to my master bedroom and, well, you’ll just have to imagine the graphic details for yourself. But after the weather calmed down, we took a look at each other over bran muffins and coffee at the kitchen counter, and I could tell we were both thinking, ‘Really?’”
And, finally, a Facebook friend wrote me recently: “My boyfriend of three-plus years and I had a romantic interlude on Peaked Hill during a hurricane. The wind was amazing, and the sky was thick with dense clouds whipping around. We were inspired and wanted to be part of it on a primal level. We never do things like that, but we got swept up in the moment!”
So the question arises, is there something in the drop in barometric pressure that spikes the human Eros zone? Checking on the Internet, all your intrepid reporter could discover was that this same dip in baro presh (weight of molecules of air exerted on objects) causes migraines, achy joints, and foggy brain chemistry. You’ll agree that none of these symptoms are conducive to canoodling.
So Dr. Nadler will now weigh in with her own theory: A sudden onslaught of hurricane carnal desire is caused by what psychologists call, with typical lugubrious terminology, Misattribution of Arousal. As you’ll remember from Psych 101, the most famous experiment in M. of A. was Dutton & Aron in 1974. These brilliant shrinks enlisted attractive female clinicians to encounter male subjects shambling their way across one of those bouncy-bouncy suspension bridges high up over a white-rapids river (or something like that: I might be embellishing a bit; it’s a bad habit.)
The same test was performed on a boring cement bridge spanning a highway. In each encounter, the female techies transacted a verbal quiz (of high-baloney content), and also furnished home phone numbers should the young male subjects be compelled to follow up with questions.
Well, the men on the suspension bridge dialed those hotties like there was no tomorrow. The cement bridge fellows? Not so much. A buzz or two, but nothing to write home about, although much was made of this non-response in the famous Dutton & Aron report. Their conclusion:
Danger releases the same hormones as sexual attraction!
So what’s our takeaway from all this info about hurricanes and frightened dudes on suspension bridges? Well, if you’ve got a crush on someone, but you’ve made no headway, then the next time your radio tumbles off the shelf with the warning of a big blow, make plans to bring you and your future-sweetie together.
And let me know how it goes.