when the bear spray hits the fan

As the Snowpocalypse begins to wind down, the streets fill with slush and we take stock of what we have learned from this episode. After all, our ability to learn from the past and plan for the future is really what separates us from the beasts.

Make a list of everything you rushed to the store to buy. What did you put in your cart? What were you willing to wait in line for TWO HOURS to purchase because you realized, as you stared down the barrel of a week inside your house, that your bags of dried beans, cans of tuna, and instant coffee might keep you alive, but they might also make you wish they hadn’t.

Then add those things to your emergency stock. Learn from this moment. What did you want as the storm barreled down upon you? What comforted you? What did you need and found you were missing? Build a tub of supplies that you can keep in the garage or under your bed.

Booze, soup, crackers, cookies, chocolate bars. Edibles. Shampoo. Dog food. Did you realize, as you stared out at the whirling snow, that nothing in your cupboard would feed your soul? Did you trek out into the swirling wind to buy brownie mix? Learn from that.

Just make sure the expiration dates on your stuff give you at least a couple of years.

Oh, you may also want to add chip clips, rubber gloves, Maalox, extra soap, cleaning supplies, old towels, and a Batman cape.

That is, if you keep bear spray in the house.

In a place where your 4-year-old can find it.

And spray it.

Inside your house.



Funny story!

I keep a canister of bear spray in my hiking backpack, one of those bigass holstered bastards of super-concentrated burning chemical agony, to be used only in the event of a mountain lion attack. This shit will stop a rabid apex predator in its tracks, people.

Buster found it today. I had asked him to grab a set of headphones from my bathroom drawer so he would be able to play on the iPad while I went to the chiropractor. My hiking backpack was also in the bathroom.

He came out of my bathroom with the contents of my hiking backpack in his hands. Well, not the whole contents. He had two things in his hands: The aforementioned canister of bear spray, and another aerosol bottle of natural insect repellant.

“Are we going hiking?” He asked.

“No,” I said. “Put that back where you found it please, it’s dangerous.”

He turned around to put the two canisters back, and bobbled the bear spray. He started coughing. He began to whimper. He rubbed his eyes. I started to feel a creeping sense of dread.

I walked over to him, inhaled, and immediately started coughing too.

“Buster, did you spray the bear spray? BUSTER? DID YOU SPRAY THE BEAR SPRAY?” No, mom, we’re all coughing and crying at the same time because of the SNOW.

Stupid question, Katie. Of course he fucking sprayed the bear spray. It was an accidental discharge. I went into what I think of as MOMBOT mode. When the shit hits the fan, a mother might panic or want to cry, but MOMBOT feels nothing. Her brain becomes a robot that dictates instructions for de-shitting the fan.

First, I snatched Buster up, ripped off his clothes and threw him into the bathtub. I ran into the kitchen and grabbed the milk out of the fridge. (We didn’t have Maalox, but that would have worked better.)

I poured milk all over his crying face and naked body in the bathtub. He did not appreciate it. I basically milkboarded him. Then I turned on the shower and covered him in soap.

Chicken walked into the bathroom.


MOMBOT said, “CONTAIN THE OLDER SIBLING” so I whirled around and said, in a firm but calm voice, “Chicken, Buster accidentally sprayed some bear spray in the house. I need you to go into the playroom and stay in there while I clean him and then clean it up. If you go into the kitchen you will cough and feel stinging eyes and throat.”

“Can I play iPad in there"?”


Dude, this kid. If we were marching to the Canadian border to leave our life behind and seek political asylum he’d be like “Cool but can I play Best Fiends while I’m marching?”

He slunk to the playroom. I went back to the kitchen and surveyed the situtation.

First, MOMBOT closed all the doors and stuffed towels under the doors to prevent the further spread of the airborn irritant. (Good call, MOMBOT!)

Second, I tried to locate the source of the actual oil that had been sprayed. I found it on my bedroom door.

Third, I opened every door and window in the house.

Fourth, I assembled my kit:

1 (one) bucket filled with hot soapy water

1 (one) roll of paper towels

1 (one) sponge

1 (one) trash can lined with a heavy-duty black trash bag, positioned outside on the deck

3 (three) shitty old towels for mopping up the runoff from the door.

Fifth, I prepared myself in protective gear. Note to me: Go to Home Depot and buy some goggles for the emergency kit. For today (Yes! Today! HAHAHA! THIS IS REAL) I pulled one of our emergency debris-blocking face mask out and put it on. Then I looked for a piece of fabric that was thin enough I could see through it, but thick enough to act as at least a partial barrier for the god damn bear spray floating around in the air of my home. Ah ha! Buster’s Batman cape. Perfect.

I wrapped it around my face and secured it using chip clips on the back of my head and neck.

I stood in the doorway to the back deck, pulling on my gloves and unrolling paper towels, and lightly hyperventilating so I could hold my breath inside my House of Pain. I can only imagine what the neighbors were thinking when they saw this mom in pink and white heart pajamas, a black executioner mask chip-clipped onto her head, pulling on her rubber gloves and panting in the doorway.

I sucked in a breath of air, dashed into the house, and scrubbed madly at the door until I had to breathe. Then I ran back out to the deck and tossed the now stained paper towels in the garbage, sucked in air, and prepared my next wad of towels.

Run, scrub, toss, gasp, repeat.

I poked my head into the playroom at one point and was like, “You ok in here, honey?”

Chicken looked up from his book and screamed.

you okay honey?

you okay honey?

I mean, I get it.

Buster got out of the shower just as I tossed my last towel into the outside trash bin and tied it shut. We left the windows open to the 35-degree winter air, the fans running, the heat turned down to 40

We have left the house for the day to give the bear spray time to pack its shit and get the fuck out. I cannot tell you how thankful I am that my son ran us through our airborne contaminant drill AFTER the snow plows came through.

All this to say, if your Snowpocalypse has been like mine, your emergency kit PROBABLY NEEDS SOME WORK, but even in the event of an unprecedented indoor bear spray situation, never lose faith in yourself, in that little “get shit done” MOMBOT voice that switches on inside your brain at the moment of crisis, and in your ability to MacGyver whatever the fuck you need out of whatever the fuck you can find.

Suck it Batman. I know how the real superheroes are out there, and when they wear capes, they chip clip them around their faces to clean the bear spray off the bedroom door.


If you liked this post, please share it! It’s the only thing keeping me going today. Yes, this happened today. February 13th. Happy Valentine’s Day.

You might also like “Postcards from the Edge of Snow Day.”

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