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Genteel 'Grayson' Was Too Mild-Mannered For The 'Bomb Cyclone'

Ocean water begins to submerge a car on T Wharf in Rockport at high tide during the first snowstorm of 2018. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)MoreCloseclosemore
Ocean water begins to submerge a car on T Wharf in Rockport at high tide during the first snowstorm of 2018. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

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Most of us grew up with hurricanes named Mariah, Suzanne, Henrietta and Inez. I don’t recall much of a kerfuffle in 1978 and 1979 when the weather service decided it was only fair to add men’s names to the mix, which meant that Hurricane Melissa has been followed by Hurricane Norman ever since. (Had the internet been up and trolling, there surely would have been angry and obscene objections about this injustice to mankind and manhood.)

The Weather Channel started naming winter storms in 2012, but it didn’t become totally annoying until the 24-hour weather news cycle took over broadcasting on virtually all the local and national networks. Computer graphics flashed and whirled ever faster and raised the anxiety index clear up to panic. The names become headlines and even brands (who doesn’t wish they could forget Snow-mageddon?), which is why there will never be a Snow Bomb Cyclone Oprah or a Hurricane Cher because those names are non-transferrable — in the public imagination if not in law.

Names are not neutral. Naming a Category 3 Hurricane “Bertha” might get you to board up the windows and lay in a supply of candles. It’s hard to take Hurricane Alfie that seriously.

But whoever heard of Grayson? It sounds like the butler in a 19th-century British novel nobody’s read since 1878.

Such a person would not tolerate a splash of claret on the sideboard much less a frozen river destroying the streets of Revere. Grayson would never trash your car or flood your basement. Indeed, Grayson would perish before he’d turn off the lights while you were reading or watching "The Crown." Grayson not only cleans up after himself, he washes and dries the dishes you left in the sink, puts them away, and folds the dishtowel. Grayson knows when to leave.

If only.

The worst thing about Grayson is that is too genteel for the massive dislocation, pain and disruption caused by its massive coastal flooding. I’m not sure what name would communicate the fact that this weather event was (cue the sirens and flashing red lights) a Vivid Warning/Preview of the Coming Climate Apocalypse.

But it sure ain’t Grayson.

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Anita Diamant Twitter Cognoscenti contributor
A Boston-based journalist and author, Anita Diamant has written 12 books, including the bestselling novel, "The Red Tent," which has been published in 25 countries and 20 languages.

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