The Spider and the $110 Light Bulbs
By Anthony Buccino
I offer not only to run out to my friendly neighborhood humongous 24-hour home center for the missing bulbs and return not only with the bulbs brightly burning, but also three cups of that world famous Dunkin’ Donuts coffee to drink while I reassemble the light bulb into its fixture.
Being the man of the house carries with it a tremendous amount of responsibility. Experiences in a nuclear family these past 15 years have reinforced the duties of daddyhood, so to speak.
The man of the house is often solely responsible for protecting home and hearth from advancing hordes of barbarians at the gate, aluminum siding salesmen, the Fuller Brush man, guys named Ernie from the tractor-trailer parked down the street offering unbelievable deals on new furniture, and kids selling “World Famous” chocolate bars for Little League, scouts, soccer, hockey, football, cheerleaders and band, to name but a few.
The man of the house is called, often from three flights of stairs away, to come kill the behemoth spider tearing huge sheets of wallpaper off the wall to feather its nest.
Of course, the rallying crowds gather to witness the modern day equivalent of manly gladiator facing off unto the death against the huge beast manifesting eight legs and an exoskeleton.
Just like in the cheap gladiator movies, the crowds gathered here call out unwarranted advice.
“Use a magazine!”
“No, Daddy, use a tissue!”
“Don’t leave a squish mark! Or you’ll have to repaint the ceiling.”
Catching my breath, tissue in hand, I am prepared for battle. “Why do I have to kill all the spiders in the house?”
“Because, when spiders die, they come back and haunt whoever killed them! That’s why you get to kill them, Daddy.”
Fearlessly, I seek out the enemy. “Where’s this huge spider, Hon?” All hands point to the corner of the wall near the ceiling. “I don’t see it. Where is it?”
Emphatically, spouse and child point, frantically, “Watch out! It’s going to get away,” says my daughter from across the room, just outside the doorway. “Quick, Dad, before it has babies!”
“This dot? You called me up two flights of stairs to kill a spider I can barely see? What is wrong with you people? Don’t you know “Dave’s World” is on?”
I stand on a chair and reach up to squish the speck of a spider.
“Oops!” I swipe the tissue toward the floor. I start looking at the carpet. “That’s one slippery spider, eh?”
“No one will sleep in this house tonight until that spider is found,” said the voice of authority.
“Ooh, look! I did get it in the tissue. Wanna’ see?”
“While you’re up here, fix the bathroom light, please.”
That’s when I figured the spider was simply a ruse to get me to address the second floor fluorescent light fixture.
I have offered to replace both light fixtures that parallel the mirror, but that was vetoed in favor of replacing the bulbs as they burned out.
In full compromise that the man of the house is acknowledged for throughout the world, I offer not only to run out to my friendly neighborhood humongous 24-hour home center for the missing bulbs and return not only with the bulbs brightly burning, but also three cups of that world famous Dunkin’ Donuts coffee to drink while I reassemble the light bulb into its fixture.
In no time at all, I had circled the parking lot and found a spot within a half-mile of the store entrance.
A greeter gave me directions to the lighting section.
In no time at all, I had found every kind and size of fluorescent light bulb except, of course, the 18-inch, 15-watt cool white that I needed. Within 20 minutes or so, I found someone who looked like he worked in the store and he helped me find the last two bulbs in the store.
Although I only needed one bulb for the fixture, I like to buy an extra one so that when the other bulb burns out, I won’t have to rush out in the middle of my favorite TV show to get a replacement.
I headed toward the checkout and tried not to let the round bulbs slip our of their slippery square paper wrappers. In yet another 20 minutes, I had breezed through the express checkout line, juggling the bulbs in the plastic bag and handing over the $11 while not letting the bulbs bump each other. I headed to the coffee shop, driving with one hand keeping the bulbs from rattling or sliding or breaking.
Queuing through yet another line, I placed my order and watched the gal mix the coffees the way I ordered them.
When I did not order donuts, she tallied it. That was when I discovered my pockets were empty. My wallet was not with me.
“Hold on, I think my wallet’s in the car.”
I raced out to the car, breathing as if I had just leaped two flights of stairs in a single bound.
I picked up the bag of light bulbs. I lit all the interior lights of the family minivan. I reached into nooks and crannies that make minivans famous among kids.
I retraced my steps into the Dunkin’ Donuts, then back to the car. Ah, the coffee! I scraped enough change from my Turnpike canisters, went in and paid for my coffees.
No, they said, no one there turned in a wallet.
I stopped off at the house, delivered the coffee and outlined why I was on my way back out.
“Maybe I’ll drink the coffee when I get back,” I said. Before I went to fill out the police report, I quickly called and canceled my credit card.
Back to the checkout line at the humongous 24-hour home center. Nothing.
They said to check at security. Nothing.
I asked the security folks to review their security video films to see if I left my wallet at checkout No. 13. But they said the cameras weren’t operating.
I searched the parking lot and the path I walked since buying the bulbs, but no one came running up to me saying, “Here’s your wallet, sir.”
And I didn’t find it laying under somebody’s tire or on the nearby grassy knoll.
Stoically, I reasoned that I was out about $110 for two light bulbs, my credit card was canceled, and I would have the hassle of dealing with DMV to replace my license and registration, but at least no one had to hit me over the head, or worse, to take my wallet. Those were two very expensive light bulbs.
And for all I know, my wallet could still be out there, money, credit card, license, registration, whatnot, all sitting safe and snug in some out-of-the-way spider web.
First published in Worrall Community Newspapers on Sept. 19, 1996.
Adapted from RAMBLING ROUND Inside and Outside at the Same Time
Essays, photography, military history, more
New Jersey author Anthony Buccino's stories of the 1960s, transit coverage and other writings earned four Society of Professional Journalists Excellence in Journalism awards.
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