Without warning, 7:15 p.m., Monday, Aug. 8, was the day the music died. And everything else electronic. We suffered a blackout.|
What the heck? Was this an isolated incident to drive me insane or was this blackout community wide?
Outside, our neighbors wandered about, wondering what had stopped their lives in their tracks too. A car pulled up, with friends reporting that all of Route One, from Lewes to Rehoboth was blacked out, traffic running amok, cars playing chicken at darkened signals, horns honking and people cursing.
As the sun quickly set in the West, I panicked. My daily to-do list stood incomplete as Bonnie and I sat quietly in the living room, no hum from the fridge, no TV, no computer, no A/C, dishwasher and laundry mid-cycle, and of course, damn cell phone battery waning. I thought of Simon & Garfunkle. The Sounds of Silence. I didn't like it one bit.
Well, at first, it was a relaxing little break. Sitting, talking, laughing, enforced tranquility. I never realized the dog snored that loudly. But then it started getting really, really dark in the house, increasingly warm, a bit spooky and on my very last nerve.
Channeling Audrey Hepburn in Wait Until Dark, I rose from my chair, and feeling the walls along with way, went to the bedroom closet to find the battery operated light/radio. Emergency preparedness error: don't stash the emergency device in the darkest, most inaccessible dungeon in the house.
Borrowing the Braille method to search for the apparatus, I rummaged through purses last used in 1987, discarded brassieres and a surprising number of errant golf balls plopping off the shelf (ow, ow, ow). Of course, once located, the radio was without batteries. So I used the hand crank, swiveling my rotator cuff to kingdom come to produce five minutes of radio reception. And it was only WGMD. I'd rather be in a news blackout.
Meanwhile, Bonnie felt her way to the kitchen, found matches and lit a candle. It had an aroma like a Creamsicle ice cream pop. Pretty soon the house was hotter, only a flicker lighter and smelled like a Good Humor truck had exploded.
Naturally, I started to get the DTs from electronics withdrawal. Couldn't check e-mail or Facebook. Couldn't use my dying smart phone, couldn't write my column, couldn't watch The Closer (auuggghhhh!), couldn't do a damn thing but obsess over what I couldn't do. It was not my finest hour.
"We could play cards by candle light", Bonnie said.
"You mean cards in your hand, not on the computer?"
"Or, we could go inside and um, nap."
"Are you kidding? It's 96 degrees in here."
"Okay, well just sit there then."
So I did, wondering what my Facebook friends were saying, curious if I had e-mail, writing my column in my head. I got pen and paper and scribbled without being able to see, most likely scrawling six sentences atop each other, creating indecipherable hieroglyphics.
Proceeding to the powder room, I tripped over a Schnauzer. Then the Schnauzer tripped over another Schnauzer and a fight ensued. I won. Finally, I pawed my way to kitchen for the phone book (remember those?). Between my senior eyesight and the Creamsicle glow I felt like Mary Todd Lincoln proofing the Gettysburg Address.
So I staggered to the antique hard-wired phone and found a dial tone - no lighted dial, mind you, but at least a dial tone. I thought I knew where the numbers were, but first called an exterminator, then an asphalt company, Finally, I rang up Delmarva Power.
"We estimate service to be restored by 11 p.m. We are evaluating the outage in your area."
Evaluating? If they're still evaluating, how do they know when the lights will come on? And what are they evaluating? How long it takes to remove a tractor trailer from a light pole? If Glenn Campbell is still a lineman for the county? How many lesbians it takes to change a light bulb?
My mind wandered. How many lesbians does it take to change a light bulb? One to change the light, two to make organic, free range supper, three to process alternative solutions?
Hello darkness, my old friend, I've come to talk with you again. The vision softly creeping creeped me out. Deadlines missed, communication cut off. I fidgeted, then cursed and finally, risked letting the cold out of the freezer by opening it for ice cubes. The martini provided only momentary refuge from my panic. My name is Fay Jacobs and I am an electric junkie.
Okay. That's it. 9:30 and all I can do is go to sleep. So I tried. Uh-oh, what will wake me up? I've got no alarm clock. So I lay there, wide-eyed, terrified I'd be late for something I wasn't prepared for anyway because I hadn't done my work on the computer. Insanity, thy name is Jacobs.
But then, all of a sudden, my eyes were stabbed by the flash of a neon light, that split the night. It came from the hall. Then, I heard it. The air-conditioning fan. Ahhhh. And Kyra Sedgewick whining from the TV (yaaay!), and I saw the delicious glow of the telephone number pad. (Wheee!) Everything in the house started blinking, including Bonnie, who had been asleep on the sofa.
And in the naked light I saw my life return to normal. Alrighty then. But the vision that was planted in my brain still remained. Clearly, I hated the sounds of silence.
So right then and there, I vowed to cut down on my electronic dependence. I would take up Scrabble again and crosswords with a pencil. I would turn over a new leaf and it would be the pages of a paperback book, not an e-reader. No more Facebook dependence. I would make old fashioned phone calls. I would meet people face to face.
I would be a recovering tech addict. I would counsel others. I would no longer fear the sounds of silence.
But, of course, I was curious. What caused the blackout leading to my great epiphany? I ramped up my computer, went to our local news site and discovered the following report:
"Delmarva Power officials report that the cause of the power outage that hit the Rehoboth and Midway areas just after 7:30pm and affected over 3800 customers was a dead squirrel found in a transformer box."
Clearly, Toto, we're not in Manhattan anymore. In fact, it appears we are just one squirrel away from Gregorian chants, number two pencils and subsistence farming.
Let there be light. Please.
Contact Fay at: FayJacobsrb@aol.com
Fay's website: www.FayJacobs.com
Fay Jacobs is publisher of A&M Books of Rehoboth and author of the "Frying Trilogy,":
As I Lay Frying - a Rehoboth Beach Memoir, Fried & True - Tales from Rehoboth Beach, and For Frying Out Loud - Rehoboth Beach Diaries. You can check her out at www.aandmbooks.com