Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Getting Lit

The annual outdoor lighting tradition is never a jolly chore, even if chugging spiked eggnog. But we have appearances to maintain in our cul de sac. Boycotting the fantasy fa├žade would affect neighborhood karma, and the exchanging of tasty treats.

Domestic engineer guys just need to suck it up; the drill, not the eggnog. Your ATM machine loves peace and goodwill toward neighbors as well as arriving home and seeing her kingdom magically lit.

I deck out a fence, patio, balcony, trim, bay window, two posts, four bushes, and three hedges. I’m tired just writing this. The back of the house faces the street below, while the front faces the cul de sac. And we have a LONG driveway.

At each season’s end I bag the strands and label them, such as Back Fence, or Driveway - East Hedge.

Each new season I unravel the strands never remembering which end I began with or how certain sections connected. That combo package of the bay window and front posts always renders decidedly un-seasonal expletives.

If I were a real engineer or similarly anal, I would have diagramed the entire schematic into a computer file, printed and stored it with each strand and its proper bag. The replacement parts would be labeled and neatly stashed somewhere on or near the tool bench. Sure, and when pigs fly.

Then there are the sexually-active strands. No matter how carefully I layer them in the bags each year, they still entwine and nestle up during their annual hibernation. Untangling them is harder than separating slices of prosciutto.

Four hours after beginning, near dusk, I’m ready to power up, without fanfare. No Tim the Toolman exploding the fuse-box, or staging the ceremony to the soppy sounds of Debbie Boone’s You Light Up My Life. No, I connect them at five different fuse-box outlets, minimizing electrocution, while singing the Stones, “If you start me. If you start me up I’ll never stop.” Wishful singing. But like Chevy Chase’s Christmas Vacation, something always goes wrong. At least one strand refuses to cooperate, and lights my fuselage, enough to “make a grown man cry”. Apparently the strands’ planned obsolescence accelerates in the bags during hibernation, as well as bond with each other. I’d call the manufacturer but it’s a long distance call to China. Instead, I get lit.

The next day I make another Ace Hardware run and replace the defective fuses. It is a good thing that Christmas comes but once a year.

Don’t get me started on what the Christmas tree lights do with each other during the off-season.

Happy Holy, Holly Days!

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