Sunday, September 28, 2014

The Blackout

“I need to schedule a dinner with the neighbors,” I said checking email on my desktop computer.
“Speaking of dinner, you hungry?” Mr. Wonderful said walking toward the kitchen
“First look at this crazy cat,” I said clicking on a feline .GIF video.
“We need to eat dinner.”
“Just watch it,” I said clicking the ‘play’ button.
ZIP! My computer and every light in The House went dark.
“The power just went out.”
“So... I guess we won’t be eating dinner.”

It had been hot in the City of the Steaming Angels, which is the name L.A. has earned this summer thanks to the punishing Heat Miser weather. Every day temperature records were broken with temps hitting triple digits in Fahrenheit and Celsius. Needless to say, it was hot.

But when it's that unbearable I have my methods of coping with the heat: 1) Swim in the pool. 2) Go the mall (not to shop but to avoid the relentless sun). 3) Run the air conditioner 24/27. Because 24/7 is not long enough.

Unfortunately I was not the only one with this strategy of high-heat coping. Every single person in the City of the Steaming Angels was doing exactly the same thing, which is why at 9 PM on a weeknight, a ZIP! sounded and plunged us into darkness. And Mr. Wonderful didn’t even get to see that crazy cat video.

“I’ll check online to see what’s happening,” I said digging in my purse. With my desktop computer dark, I grabbed my mobile phone. Unfortunately I hadn’t recharged it in days so it was flat and dark.
“Good plan,” Mr. Wonderful said eyeing my useless phone. I hate making a fool out of myself in front of him.

“Okay. I’ll just check the local news on TV—” I stopped before making a complete and utter fool of myself. Although being married to me this long, I’m sure my spouse is onto me being a tad foolish.

No internet, no computers, no TV, no crazy cat videos? This blackout was the worst.

“Okay. I’ll go check on things,” I said marching outside through the front door. For miles around every house and street lamp was obscure, but in the sky overhead the night was clear and bright with stars. It was beautiful.

“You going for a drive in this blackout, Harold?” I said noticing our 86 year-old neighbor standing on his driveway before his closed garage door.
“I’m not going anywhere since this electric garage door won’t open.” So, the blackout had not affected Harold’s orneriness.
“Maybe you should stick close to home.” Harold lifted his eyebrows and without saying a word, said I was a fool.
“What if my heart and I need to go to the hospital? I can’t even get my car out of the garage.” The blackout prevented me from watching a crazy cat video, but it brought this 86 year-old man’s thoughts to life, death and speeding tickets.
“If you ever need to go, we’ll drive you,” I said pointing to our car parked in the driveway.
That seemed to settle Harold down. Or maybe his complaining was just on the blink.

“This is some blackout,” Jerry said passing his rose bushes to meet me on the street.
“No kidding. Do you know who’s affected?”
Jerry looked at me turning his head like a parrot. “We are.” Great, now my husband, Harold and Jerry think I’m an idiot.
“By the way, here’s your bowl back,” he said passing me an empty stainless steel bowl. “Your tomatoes were delicious.”

“Hi, neighbors!” Charles called out as he met Harold, Jerry and me in the street.
“Long time no see!” I said giving him a hug.
“All work and no fun makes Charles a dull boy.”
“Hey, we’ve been meaning to invite you to dinner.”
“Tell us when and we’ll be there!”

I gave him a date, he wrote it on his hand in ink, and we told jokes for a while, the four of us just standing to the side of the street during a blackout. It wasn’t bad being forced to hang with the neighbors because we had a wonderful group of neighbors. It took a blackout to remind me how great everyone was.

This blackout was pretty good.

Just then ZIP! The lights in all the houses and street lamps turned back on. The blackout was over! I hugged Harold, Jerry and Charles then returned to The House.

Inside Mr. Wonderful had illuminated the living room with a dozen tea light candles, turning the space into a romantic island in our life’s voyage.

“The blackout’s over,” Mr. Wonderful said looking at the illuminated electrical lamps and blowing out a candle.

“Let’s make the blackout last a little while longer,” I said turning off the electric lights and re-lighting the candles.

Mr. Wonderful didn’t think I was a fool now.

This blackout was the best.