The Dark Side Of Gary England
8:16 PM EDT on May 14, 2008
photo from flickr user *CA*
You might have figured out by now that we are fans of Gary England. He uses his folksy charm to bring us the weather in an unparalleled manner, and when angered, his justice -- in the form of severe weather -- is carried out swiftly, fairly and precisely. We are great admirers of his work.
Which is why it was with great horror that the following story was related to us by one of our loyal readers. She describes it as "a sad story about the heartbreak of an 8 year old girl and a pompous weather man."
Jump back! Yes, folks, there may be a dark side to Gary England. A side that probably only rears it's head when provoked by little girls that deserve it, but a dark side nonetheless. We present it in the interest of being fair and balanced.
After the jump, the story of one girl, one weather man, and a relationship that could never be repaired.
When I was in second grade, we had an art contest because "Those Terrible Twisters" was coming to Ada. The prize of winning said contest was to get to meet Gary England and shake his hand, take pictures, etc., which was a nice publicity stunt because he was doing "Those Terrible Twisters" in Ada that night very same night at East Central University.
Now, Gary was a God in my eyes at the time. Seriously, I had read two of his books on meteorology and was set on being just like him when I grew up. So, as you can guess, I worked my ass off on my submission and blew everyone out of the water. Even the 5th graders (big deal for a 2nd grader, seriously) were no match for my pastel masterpiece of a red barn with a 'nader drawing near. I even hair-sprayed the final product so the colors wouldn't be compromised whilst being handled.
So the day comes, I'm ready, wearing my best multi-colored jumper, with my hair all puffed and teased up, pulled back in a big, rockin' twistie. We had the photo op, where the newspaper (that I would ironically work for later in life) came to take pictures of me, posing with my magnum opus. I waited for Gary to show. And waited"¦and waited...and waited.
So it goes, this was mid March. March 27, 1991, if my memory serves me correctly...and severe weather was brewing across this great state and Gary had to get back to what he did best. Saving lives. I was told that Gary wouldn't get to come down and shake my hand, but he would make up for it. I was very sad, but for an 8-year-old, very realistic and grounded. I knew that the man was a God and had a duty to perform.
As luck would have it, guess whose lives he saved? Yep. The humble citizens of Greater Ader. We had two tornados touch down, one of which knocked a big chunk out of the brand new Physical and Environmental Sciences Hall at ECU.
Flash forward, two or three weeks later (a lifetime to a kid), I still hear nothing from Gary and I am anxious to get my damn handshake and meet my idol. My parents come up with the idea that I should write Gary a nice letter at Channel 9 and explain that I won the contest, fate, tornado, etc., etc., and that I would still like to meet him. So, I wrote to him, in my best penmanship"¦asking if perhaps I could come up to the studio, that I thought he was really cool...and told him that I had learned from him that "if a tornado was coming toward you...it was black, if it's moving away, it's white" (that sentence has stuck with me for a while *sad face*).
So I mailed it, excited for a response. Would I *actually* be going to CHANNEL 9??! Expectations were high and this kid was ready to go. I waited to hear from him. And waited...and waited"¦and waited some more. Nothing.
My God had abandoned me. He never even cared about me. All that hype, all my effort, and he couldn't even write me back and tell me, "maybe later, kid" or "screw off, kid." It's been 16 years. And I still haven't gotten my handshake.
The journey has been long and hard for me. I don't watch Channel 9"¦I haven't since the early 90s. And I make it a point to stay away from tornado coverage. It's just too hard.
We would hope that someday there could be a happy ending to this story; maybe Gary England could get the spurned little girl on the Gentner and let her pretend to be a storm chaser. But perhaps the wounds are too deep to ever heal. Perhaps this is one dustnado that cannot be tamed.
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