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Andrea Langworthy's column: Lights out

Our power went out last weekend. Word around the neighborhood is that a car hit a utility pole. It happened in the middle of the night but I was awake. Had been for a couple of hours when I heard a loud thud. It could have been the accident but, at the time, I thought it was the newspaper carrier. He’s early, I thought.

Minutes later, I heard a beep and the dot of light disappeared from the smoke detector just inside the bedroom door. The green numbers on the clock radio went dark. So did the little red light in the bottom right hand corner of the television.

The bits of brightness from the street lamps that usually sneak into the bedroom through the holes in the wood window blinds were gone, too. The room looked as if someone had pulled open the roof and dropped a can of black paint over everything.

I reached my hand across the bed towards my husband. Either the loud thud had been a spaceship landing and kidnapping him or he had gone into the guest room. I picked up the telephone to call him. There was no service. I hollered as loud as I could, calling his name over and over even as I looked towards the dark living room and realized he might not be able to find his way.

During a previous outage last year, one that started in the afternoon, my husband kept telling me, “These things never last long.” Perhaps, but when we realized it would soon be dark, we searched the house for flashlights.

We finally found one but it didn’t work. We began another hunt for batteries but came up empty-handed. I called our next door neighbor and she had what we needed. As we ate a cold dinner by the sliver of a single light beam, the power came on. We made a promise to load up on batteries and flashlights.

One has been on top of a dresser in the bedroom since a short loss of power this past winter. In the dark last weekend, I could “see” it on the left side of the piece of furniture but feared if I got up and tried to find it, I might knock it to the floor instead.

While I debated what to do, I heard my husband say from the front hall, “I’m on my way but the electricity is off.”

When I was young, power failures meant Mom and Dad would light candles. We all huddled together in the living room and played cards or board games. At summer camp, we sat on our bunks and told ghost stories. If “nature called,” we’d use the buddy system and head to the latrine like we did at night — with the flashlights that had been on the official list of required gear.

At camp, if someone was acting like a sad sack, we tried to cheer her up by singing, “Every party has a pooper, that’s why we invited you. Party pooper, party pooper.” It always resulted in a smile.

Call me a party-pooper but last weekend, I wasn’t smiling. I didn’t consider lighting candles and playing Parcheesi and singing didn’t appeal to me, either. I just wanted my husband to put his arms around me and tell me not to worry because, “These things never last long.”

Oh, yes, and I wanted him to locate the flashlight on top of the dresser in case nature called.