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Friends Don’t Let Friends Do Electrical Work


I had wanted a dimmer switch ever since the 80’s were a thing and when my friends and I got into the collage years of life, I decided that it was time and mom couldn’t stop me anyway. I was 19 damn it. I was an adult! Yet it was when I turned 23 that she finally stopped telling me to go to bed and do my homework – but I digress.

I must have been one of the last, pre-recession people who wanted to stay home when attending college. Free laundry, hot meals, private room and all the chocolate I could eat unless she found it first. Who would turn that down? Derek, one of my brother’s best friends and mine too, was studying to be an engineer. He now works at a high paying job in an undisclosed location near the center of the earth with a large wingback chair and a cat with a screeching meow. (Kudos to you that get the reference) He said he knew how to install a light switch so I took him at his word.

My parents bought 3 family private house, one in a row of 5 or 6, in the late 70’s, when money could get you real things and income equality hadn’t gone completely off the wall just yet. All three apartments are set up almost like a railroad flat with one room after the other. At the rear near the door to the back yard are the living room and one bedroom. Following toward the front of the place, down the long hallway, you pass the kitchen, open dining room, big bathroom directly across from the front door to the hall stairs, the master bedroom used by my brother (Brad) and Derek, and then my room at the end of the line. If you sit in the cushy chair by the glad backyard door, you can see straight into my room in one unbroken line.

Our buddy is the type to tinker with anything. Not much has changed since then either and he never let a little thing like an exploding Tonka truck stop him – but that’s another story. When I asked for the install he was ready to hit home depot like a frat boy on Friday night.

I love my mother, but calm isn’t her thing. Of course she sits in the chair with the view of my room that very night that we decide we’re going to do this thing, because fate and crap. Mom, Brad and I (and possibly another of our friends) were all in the living room while he was working. In our style we would crack jokes and call him Bubba the Plumber because my family is made of assholes and I love them. Everything was going fine for the first twenty minutes and then there was a loud pop and a bright flash of blue light from the bedroom seconds before that end of the house was plunged into darkness. My mother screamed out, “Derek, are you ok?!”

We sat there, each silent second going by seeming to be an eternity, and then he answered in a shaky voice, “Yes?” The lot of us heaved a collective sigh of relief, me and Brad on our feet and down the hall right after. We found him laughing. Typical.

Mom flipped the breakers to turn on the electricity to that end of the house, all the while swearing in Scottish because of the shock. Apparently we were a “shower a’ bastards” and other stuff I can’t spell.

But wait! There’s more! A few more minutes of him fiddling and the project was complete. It worked beautifully! I had more mood lighting than one co-ed, who couldn’t get a date anyway, than I would ever need.

At least we thought so until Brad went to turn on his computer. I heard a string of curses and profanities from my brother’s room. Apparently, when we hooked up the dimmer switch it drained all the power from the other room. I have no idea how that works because I do not science for electrical wires. He carried on as if we kicked his puppy so Derek had to undo everything that was done so Brad could get power back to his room.

Final note: I never did get my dimmer switch.

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writer, artist, daydreamer

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