Sunday, June 3, 2012


   It is a forgone conclusion that whenever I attempt to do something, a project, a task, a chore, that I will either break something or hurt myself. The first and only time my father asked me to help him rotate the tires, I lost one lug nut and swallowed another. A few months ago I was cutting down a tree branch with a trimmer, and, in a whirlwind of motion that I have yet to explain, I found myself caught by an ankle up in the tree, ten feet away from where I had been standing, the trimmer lying on the ground mockingly still and my trapped body swinging in the wind.
    Well, this afternoon I tried changing a light bulb. My parents had left the house for some function and I was left with this simple task. It was one of three light bulbs in the kitchen fixture, set in the center of the ceiling. I thought first to get a light bulb their storage area, but realized I didn't know what kind to get and, given my track record, would finish the project with a birthday candle stuck in the socket upside-down. I went into the kitchen and starred up at the fixture, determined to figure out which one was burnt. I flipped the light on and temporarily blinded myself. Recovering, I saw which bulb was burnt, and pulled a kitchen stool under it. Before I mounted it, I decided that it would be best to turn the light off again. I removed the small cushion that was on the stool because I knew that it would slip out from under me. Proud that I had remembered that fact, I climbed onto the stool. However, I misjudged both my height and the height of the stool and crashed the top of my head into the ceiling.
    After a brief lie down on the hard kitchen floor, I regained my stance on the stool, crouching slightly to avoid another bump. I realized I didn't remember which bulb was burnt out. So I climbed down, marched to the switch, took a good look at the fixture, turned it on, and blinded myself again.
    Eventually I discerned which bulb needed changing again, and carefully climbed onto the stool. I carefully unscrewed the screws keeping the white dome which covered the bulb in place, but dropped one of them onto the floor before I could get the dome down. It seemed to be waiting for the chance to escape, because as soon as I got down off the stool and placed the dome on the table in the center of the kitchen the screw had vanished. After crawling around for a few minutes, bumping around under the table (and accidentally mistaking a short black twisty tie for the screw) I found it, trying in vain to wedge itself through a vent on the runner. I had a funny thought about calling the screw "Steve McQueen" to mock it into submission when I heard an ominous grating noise from the table. Peering level with it, I saw the white dome about to roll off the other side of the table.
    Diving through the legs, I superbly caught the dome moments before it would have smashed like a snowman hit by a wrecking ball. In doing so however I managed to fling the screw at the wall, and it might have known it was never really going to escape because it decided to bounce off and smack me perfectly in the forehead.
    It rolled flaccidly as I got up, dome in hands. After I secured the dome and the screw, I got back up to ceiling-height and unscrewed the burnt bulb from the fixture. Carefully stepping back down, I noted the bulb's wattage and placed in on the table. I then found the right kind of bulb to replace it with; the last one. I climbed back up, nearly bashing my head again. I started to screw the new bulb in to place in the fixture, and when I thought I was done I bent down to get the white dome.
    I heard the bulb fall loose with a heart-stopping "ping." Bent forward as I was, I attempted to jump down into the path of the bulb (The last one!) to catch it, and catch it I did. Unfortunately I also landed with one foot right on the stool's pillow, sending me skidding across the hardwood floor. I tried to catch the table to stop myself, but ended up with the burnt out bulb in my other hand instead of the table it was resting on. I crashed into the sink, bashed my knee into the cabinet below it, slipped backwards and conked my head on the floor. One of the two bulbs had broken when I landed, smashed so that only a tiny jagged mountain range remained where it had been. It was only the burnt bulb, but I still had to clean it up.
    By the time I had cleaned and finished everything, I had two bumps on my head, a small mark where the screw had hit me, a bashed knee, and a broken light bulb.
    But I considered it a success, because I didn't end up hanging by my ankle in a tree. And don't you think that wasn't possible.