The Long Life Of An Old Fat Lamp

This article by Ray Spitzenberger first appeared in IMAGES for December 6, 2018, East Bernard Express, East Bernard, Texas.

            When my wife and I married, we had about four nondescript lamps, a couple from each of our single-life apartments, and mostly desk lamps. Shortly after we moved into our permanent home and our first child was born, we bought our first lamp, which soon left this world after being knocked off the table (the lamp, not the child).

            Though money was tight, we immediately bought a new lamp, because there were no ceiling lights in our very large living room/dining room. Forty-three years later it doesn’t seem that large, but in 1975, when we had about four pieces of living room furniture and one lamp, the room was so empty it echoed.

            Even though this was not literally our first lamp, it was our first memorable lamp, with its huge red and black belly and enormous shade. I never really liked that lamp, but we got it for an affordable price, and it did at least light up a section of the living room. It also became the decision-maker for our color scheme. Red and black “thises” and red and black “that’s” plus any other color which would go with red and black.

            A number of years later, after our parents and several aunts died, we were handed down an assortment of lamps, all sizes and shapes. These inherited lamps were put to good use in other parts of the house, but none of them seemed appropriate to replace the fat “Mother Lamp” in the living room, And lamps tend to be part of your household, like your cats and dogs and hamsters, no matter how mongrel-looking they are, — they have personalities like people. So the red and black fat lamp continued to live with us in all its bright, luminescent glory.

            That is, until last week!         

            My wife had come to the conclusion, after all these years of life with THAT lamp, we needed a new flagship lamp. Never having really liked the old obese light-provider (the lamp, not my wife), I immediately suggested giving her a new lamp for Christmas.

            OK, she says, except we really need to purchase it before Christmas so that it will be in place when our family members arrive for our Christmas celebration.

            Fine, that’s good, and, of course, she should choose the lamp, and we could order it from Amazon. We don’t need to go to a furniture store and buy it, because anyone, even an idiot, can take a lamp out of the box and put it together.

            Amazingly, she picked a lamp that rang my chimes as much as it did hers! Yay! Order placed!

            Order received well before Christmas! It was breath-taking in its beauty! Since it was a gift to her, I volunteered to remove it from its box and put it together. No problem! I’m not a genius, but I can put a lamp together.

            The lamp was tightly packed inside a Styrofoam case, which was tightly squeezed into the box. I had to cut the box off the Styrofoam, and then the Styrofoam broke apart as together we tried to extract the lamp. No sending it back after we destroyed the box and the Styrofoam.

            The instructions showed how easy it was to connect the bottom of the lamp to the top. You simply screwed “A” into “B,” but, alas, “A” wouldn’t screw into “B.” I tried to do it again. My wife tried to do it. I tried yet again. Won’t connect. What do we do?!

            My wife decided to take the lamp to Vacek’s Hardware, because Tommy had rescued us from several catastrophes in the past. To make a long story short, Tommy fixed the problem in no time, God bless him! However a new problem arose in that one of our daughters was sad because she had “grown up with that lamp,” and was not happy to see it hauled off to the aisles of Good Will. She was happy enough when I told her I gave the lamp a new home in my studio.

            The other daughter, who thought it was fine for us to get a new lamp and fine to give the old one to Good Will, came over the day after our new, beautiful lambent acquisition replaced the fat one. When she finally noticed the newly acquired, she said offhandedly, “Hmm, it looks just like the old one.”



Ray Spitzenberger is a retired college speech and English teacher and a retired Lutheran pastor.


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