Alyson Scherer-White was due Friday. So was a blizzard.
“It’s a little stressful,” acknowledged the 36-year-old spirits buyer for Total Wine. “I won’t lie.”
Friends and family texted her a gazillion times this week asking if she had a plan. Some offered advice, including: “Don’t have the baby on the highway.” After hoping the forecast would change, Scherer-White and her husband gave in Thursday and made a plan, booking a hotel room near Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Medical Center in Rockville, Md.
“My hope is to get two nights of quiet in the hotel and then have the baby on Sunday,” said Scherer-White, whose 2-year-old will stay home in Kensington with family. “Our room is nice. We have a king-size bed and a kitchen.”
As a monster storm expected to pack more than two feet of snow arrived in the Washington region Friday, people were scrambling not just for bread and toilet paper — any ply count will do — but also to rearrange momentous life events. Bat mitzvahs. Fortieth birthday parties. Trips of a lifetime. Even funerals.
“Unfortunately, death doesn’t take a snow day,” said Courtney Stauffer, whose family’s funeral home in Frederick, Md., had already rescheduled 10 funerals because of the snow, with more likely.
The staff at Stauffer Funeral Homes, already swamped amid the death industry’s busiest time of year, called families to offer dates for next week and beyond — another upsetting thing for grieving loved ones to deal with at a difficult time.
“This is God’s plan for a blizzard,” Stauffer said. “We make the best of it.”
One family, she said, was still pushing ahead with a Sunday service. And around the region, others were giving the blizzard a stiff arm. The Louisiana State Society said a Mardi Gras party Saturday at the Washington Hilton was still on.
“Almost all of the guests at the Hilton are there for the festivities,” a spokeswoman for the society said. “And when there’s enough Louisianians stuck in one place due to inclement weather, a party is bound to break out anyway.”
But for those who can’t power through, accepting the inevitable was the prevailing coping mechanism. Yes, two feet of snow is insane. Yes, shoveling it all would be hard. And yes, Tawny McManus was postponing her “Great Gatsby”-themed 40th birthday party in Baltimore at the Belvedere — the flappers, the tiaras, her fabulous outfit.
“It’s the event of the year,” said McManus, who lives in Severn, Md. “Or it was supposed to be.”
But as doom approached, so did worry among her guests. The primary concern: babysitters. A 40th birthday party, generally speaking, cannot take place without babysitters, who typically cancel in DEFCON 2 weather circumstances. It can also not take place if the guests can’t arrive.
The Belvedere staff told McManus that city streets would be okay. But even if that were remotely true, it wouldn’t be the real issue.
“We’re all 40,” she said. “We’ve all moved to the suburbs. Uber is not going to come get us.”
So the party has been pushed back a month, a move that has produced feelings of consternation and, strangely, relief. McManus wonders whether “everyone will be as fired up for my birthday then.” But a friend was heartened to know that she had an extra month to fit into her dress.
McManus and her husband will celebrate by drinking in a friend’s basement.
“It will be a small gathering of friends in their PJs,” she said. “It will be okay, but it won’t be the night I pictured.”
Elizabeth Gensler had a different birthday-related event to deal with — her daughter Maya’s bat mitzvah. It was one of three at Temple Beth Ami in Rockville postponed until next week. Gensler waited as long as she could to make the call.
“We were hoping for an error in the weather system,” she said.
The bad news: Many out-of-town guests won’t be able to make it to Maya’s bat mitzvah, or the others. The good news: The new 13-year-olds won’t have to learn to recite new Torah portions, which are typically tied to the bar or bat mitzvah date and often induce profound stress.
“We’re making an exception,” said Janice Rosenblatt, the temple’s executive director. Asked if God would look the other way, given the circumstances, she said: “We hope so.”
Kelijah Proctor just wanted to get to Orlando — not to see Mickey, not for a wedding or a funeral, but to attend Sunday’s World Wrestling Entertainment Royal Rumble, one of four yearly big pay-per-view wrestling events. Proctor, a 29-year-old District resident who works for the Department of Homeland Security, has been to the other three.
“I wanted to complete the four,” he said. “This is the road to
Proctor, whose Twitter bio is “Ginger Ale drinker and wrestling fan,” had planned the trip for almost a year, already shelling out about $1,200.
His Saturday morning flight out of Reagan National Airport was canceled. But he just needed to be at the arena by 8 p.m. He was still hoping for a Sunday morning flight.
Was he bummed out? No. He has weathered other wrestling event hassles.
“There was one in Atlanta that ISIS threatened to blow up,” he said, noting that the event was not blown up. “I’m kind of used to this crazy stuff happening.”
As for Alyson Scherer-White, it turned out that getting a hotel room near the hospital was a very good idea.
With the winds whipping and more than a foot of snow piled up outside, she gave birth at 7:18 a.m. Saturday to Teva Nolan, who will forever have a great story about entering the world.