“Where’s the flashlight,” my wife asked this past Sunday evening.
This wasn’t a question of idle curiosity since the lights had blinked a few times before finally gasping their last and leaving us in the dark. The flames from the fireplace helped a little, but I wasn’t a 19th-century schoolboy doing my homework on the hearth. I needed 21st-century wattage.
“I have no idea. I think there might be one in the junk drawer,” I said “but I’ll need a flashlight to find it.”
I should say that I’m as safety conscious as a person can be without a spool of bubble wrap in the garage. I have several fire extinguishers in the house, plus an assortment of smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, but a flashlight? I can never find one. Not when I need one anyway.
I have a small, lifeless flashlight dangling on my keychain, which always came in handy in restaurants because there isn’t a restaurant without arches in front that has lights bright enough to see the food let alone a menu. Anyone wishing to read a menu in most restaurants would have better luck if they carried in a balloon full of fireflies.
The battery in that particular flashlight has been dead for awhile (I’m too lazy to take it off my keyring), so my next choice was the light on my phone, which is almost as bright as the headlights on one of those fancy new cars with headlights that could, if needed, be used for arc welding. I used one flashlight to search for another, but since my phone was already down eighty-five percent and with no power to recharge it, I’d be forced to start the engine in the truck and plug it in out there if I couldn’t find a regular flashlight. It’s amazing how disconnected one can feel in a relatively short amount of time. My limit was ten minutes after the lights went out.
A few of my neighbors have huge backup generators, and I could hear those humming along while they enjoyed The Walking Dead as I stood in the dark feeling like a zombie. Mrs. G. grabbed one of her battery-powered candles and went to bed. She flipped on her book light and hunkered down under the covers. I took a position on my side of the bed with a Kindle and read until I fell asleep. Milo growled at the wind, which was the likely culprit for downing a fragile wire in our electrical grid.
About three hours after the power went out, it snapped back to life along with every light we had left on before the power went on hiatus. My wife woke me up to let me know the power was back online, and I slept better knowing the frozen pizzas would stay frozen.
That was Sunday night, and I’m about to head out flashlight shopping. I had a couple of really bright yet small LED units, but much as the pollywog who grew legs and walked out of the pond, those two flashlights have left for good, but I liked them so I’ll buy two more.
The last time I used those flashlights was a few weeks ago before daylight saving time ended when it was still pitch dark until 8:00 in the morning. My across the street neighbor drives her kid to the bus stop, which is the end of their driveway about seventy feet from their house. She does this every morning at 6:15 in her car with the aforementioned arc-welding headlights cranked up to the supernova setting, and they both wait for the bus in the climate-controlled cabin.
The headlights shine into our front windows and are bright enough to allow us to craft shadow puppets on the wall in our bedroom, all the way in the back of the house. I was awake anyway but annoyed, so I got up, held a flashlight in each hand, and shined them out the dining room window straight into her windshield. Tit-for-tat. It took about a minute, but the headlights went out and I, victorious, poured myself a bowl of Cheerios. That was the last time I saw those flashlights.
I expect that if we ever move, and things are boxed and piled into the back of a truck or a dumpster, I’ll stumble on at least two flashlights for every year we’ve lived here. That’s sound math, so there would likely be a case of them by now if flashlights came twenty-four to a case.
That seems about right.
I did indeed buy new flashlights, three, in fact, two to keep in the junk drawer for a while and one to lose immediately. I may put that one in the glovebox since anything that goes in there is sucked into an inter-dimensional vortex.
Oh, and did you know that they call a flashlight a torch in the UK? Those crazy Brits. “Hey, stop shining that torch in my eyes, Queen Elizabeth!”
Since my daughter and her husband are going to England next spring, I thought I’d look up some other quaint British terms to help them blend in with the natives:
Matches = Flame sticks
Fork = Food stabber
Spoon = Mouth shovel
Toilet = Wastebasket
Eggplant = Barney squash
Car hood = King George’s fedora
Tic-tac-toe = Buggers, freckles, and teat mongers
Bed = Sleep hamper
Pillow = Head bumper
Toothbrush = Tooth broom
Toothpaste = Fang frosting
Mouthwash = Molar douche
Have fun, Honey! Don’t forget to pack your torch and some extra LR6’s.