The lights flickered out for a few seconds last night. There was some light rain outside, but no lightening, so I’m not sure what caused the momentary disturbance. It was enough to send Calico out to the storage shelves in the back of the garage to find some alternate lighting. She located some solar lanterns, that should have been out on the patio soaking up the sun, a couple of flashlights minus batteries and a few chunky candles, which haven’t been used for years, due to safety issues when Miss Muffin was young and then with cats that are undeterred by the highest of shelves. The battery powered lanterns, however, weren’t there. Hopefully, they haven’t become another moving casualty. They are far safer than candles and throw enough light for reading, even for my imperfect eyes. We got them after I knocked the power out at our Memphis home for almost a day. Not just for us, but for our entire neighborhood.
It was one of those nights, when sleep seemed to evade me. I had tossed and turned for an hour or so and then got back up. I left the lights off and started playing computer solitaire, hoping that the dim environment and repetitive clicking would induce sleepiness. An hour later, I was still playing and my stomach was rumbling. I went to the kitchen, started some popcorn in the microwave and returned to my computer. I love popcorn and had the timing down to a science. In three minutes and fifteen seconds, the timer would ring and I’d have a perfectly popped bag.
The solitaire and low lighting finally seemed to be working their magic. My eyes were getting heavy, when the nasty odor of burnt popcorn suddenly jolted me awake. I hurried to the kitchen, stopped the microwave and got the popcorn out of the house. I had cleared the timer, when I stopped the microwave, but I could only assume that I had incorrectly set the time. Despite the odor of charred popcorn that permeated the air, I was still craving popcorn. I grabbed another bag, carefully set the timer and returned to my chair. This time, I didn’t play solitaire, but sat patiently with my eyes focused on the microwave.
A minute later, a loud explosion shook the house and total darkness enveloped me. I was too stunned to move, but I knew that something had been terribly wrong with that microwave. I berated myself for trying to pop that second bag. How stupid! Now my popcorn craving had probably destroyed the house’s electrical system. Even without lights, I could see the dollar bill signs.
The explosion had awakened Calico and she crept into the living room, feeling her way to the chair next to mine. She listened to my tale, then sat quietly for a minute and joined me in watching the dollar bill signs. Finally, she got up and searched for a flashlight. She flashed a dim light on the microwave. “I don’t see anything bad here. Maybe it just flipped a circuit breaker.” It was a hopeful thought, but a trip to the power box was unproductive. We were pondering what to do next, when we realized that the street lights were out and no lights flickered in other houses. What had I done?
Neighbors had heard the explosion too and one had called the utility company. I sat awaiting their arrival, certain that they would soon trace the outage to our house. Calico, however, had begun to have doubts. Surely an explosion that shook the house would have left some signs of damage on the microwave or electrical outlet. It made sense, but I wasn’t buying it. The flashlight was small and the light was dim. She was probably missing something.
With the power out, solitaire was out of the question. So was popcorn, though I had lost my appetite for it anyway. Eventually, we went back to bed and awoke to sunlight. By noon, Calico had heard rumors about an accident on the expressway and a damaged transformer. She went out and purchased those cute battery lanterns in case power hadn’t been restored by nightfall. I began to believe that the outage hadn’t been induced by my popping corn, but I still gave a big sigh of relief, when the lights finally came back on.