I have decided that we are a society of excesses.

I was flat on my back on a hospital gurney this week when a crew came through changing out light bulbs. I didn’t have much to do while I was waiting for the anesthesiologist to administer the good stuff except watch. Being me, I did strike up a conversation with the workers, who told me that the new bulbs would last up to 25 years and save a ton of money.

I don’t think the facility will last 25 years, but I took him at his word and didn’t make any comment.

The whole experience did get me thinking, however, about how far we have come in this world. Me in particular. I was raised in a house that had exactly five light bulbs to change out — ironically, the exact same number over my bathroom mirror in my current home. The light bulbs hung straight down from the center of the room, on an electric wire. There was a chain hanging down beside the light socket. You pulled the chain to make the light come on or go off. Wall switches? We didn’t need any stinking wall switches in Porterdale. Shades? See previous comments about wall switches.

There was one such light in each of the four rooms. There was a reading lamp beside my daddy’s chair in the living room, which was the fifth bulb. There was a flashlight on the kitchen counter, right beside the back door, that came in handy if anyone needed to make a trip to the bathroom after dark.

Five light bulbs. And we saw everything we needed to see. That’s the heck of it. I learned to read sitting at the kitchen table, from the light provided by one of the hanging bare bulbs. I sat in the living room floor and played jackstones and Old Maid with my sister and our friends by the other. The ones in the bedrooms were almost superfluous, because we only went in there to sleep. We did that with our eyes closed.

Five light bulbs were, actually, more than we needed.

But I came home from the hospital after my procedure and decided to count the light bulbs in my house. You wouldn’t believe how many there were. Actually, you probably would because you probably have that many light bulbs in your house, too.

I started in the master bath. If this were a text, I would insert LOL here. I lived in house that didn’t have a bathroom until I was 12. Now I have four. Five counting the back porch. And one of them is a “master bath.” With 15 lightbulbs. Five over each vanity sink. Two in the shower. Three in the chandelier over the tub.

At 68 years of age, I don’t need to see myself that clearly in the bathroom. That two D-cell flashlight I used to find my path to the bathroom would be much preferable.

There were six bulbs in the two master closets, six in the bedroom itself and six in the sun room/office off the master suite for a total of 33 light bulbs of varying types and wattage in what builders call the “master suite” alone.

I won’t give you a play by play of the whole house, but the numbers were 58 downstairs, 27 upstairs, another 23 in the basement and eight outside for security. We have 116 light bulbs in and around our house, y’all. I know that God said, “Let there be light,” but I don’t think he meant for it all to be at our one house.

And that doesn’t include all the creepy little green and blue illuminations that emit from our phones, DVRs, ovens and other electronics. If the government ordered a blackout because they feared a nuclear attack like back in the day, we’d be out of luck. I don’t think we could make the house dark if we wanted to.

Trace Adkins once wrote a song with these lyrics:

“Every light in the house is on

The backyard’s bright as the crack of dawn

The front walk looks like runway lights

It’s kinda like noon in the dead of night

Every light in the house is on.”

I decided to live out the words of that song, and Thursday night I turned every light in our house on — all 116 of them. The electric meter started doing somersaults, like Clark Griswald’s when he turned on all his Christmas lights in the National Lampoon movie.

The next time I get the mulligrubs or start feeling sorry for myself, I am going to think about the old days when I lived in a house with five lightbulbs and think about how I now live in a house with 116 light bulbs.

And I’ll bet you dollars to donuts I’ll decide I was better off with five.


Darrell Huckaby is an author in Rockdale County. Email him at dhuck008@gmail.com.

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