So the other night our lights went out. My husband ran to the front door to see if there was a storm coming or if there were other lights on in the neighborhood. I ran in the opposite direction to the calendar magnet on the refrigerator, mumbling all the way: "It's not the seventeenth yet is it? It better not be. I only have until the seventeenth." My husband-turned-meteorologist, using his high-tech meteorological system (squinting up into the sky and down the block) confirmed that there was no apparent storm coming and that the neighborhood was indeed... to use his technical term... dark. I'm probably the only one in the development to breathe a deep sigh of relief. It wasn't a non-payment issue. This outage was legit. The problem apparently was... and I'm relying solely on good old-fashioned rumor and innuendo because nobody ever tells you anything... ice on the power lines. There was snow a few days before so then it froze and the weight of the ice brought down the power lines... or... some schmuck got up on a ladder drunk and instead of cutting a branch in his front lawn, he cut off the heat for twenty thousand people... either way. Where we used to live, all the power lines were underground so we never had this debacle but here they're above ground so we always have this debacle. My theory is: The power lines have been here since the ancient Greeks ruled North Carolina and needed to light up the coliseum for the Rolling Stones concerts. From then on, the power lines have held landmark status and it is forbidden by law for them to be removed or altered in any way. You'd think going to sleep would be the easiest thing in these situations because it's so dark. For me, it's the worst part. I always lie there and think about Rhoda who was in this situation on an episode of the Mary Tyler Moore Show. She told Mary: "I was lying there in bed and I was all nice and warm and then I remembered that that's exactly how you feel right before you freeze to death."
And it was cold. This is what I have my mother's fur coat for. I'm not comfortable wearing a fur coat, but I'm not comfortable giving away my mother's coat, so I compromise: I save it for this one special occasion: Every time the lights go out, I throw it over my blanket at night.
As usual, as I shivered, my husband lying next to me gallantly suggested a place where I could put my hands to keep them warm. I politely declined. I've noticed that when it's freezing, while a woman's tendency is to throw more layers of clothes on our bodies, men feel nudity, as usual, is the answer. I'm buried under sweaters, coats, cloth napkins... looking like I got drunk at a party and passed out in the cloak room... and he's there next to me trying to peel me out of the rubble. Through his chattering teeth, my husband, who got his physics degree from watching The Big Bang Theory waxed poetic about friction, body heat, and "I guarantee you, the warmest place in this whole house is... right... there... no, a little lower. "
I decided to unembalm my lifeless body from the wreckage and venture into the living room en route to the kitchen carrying the only thing with working batteries: A Darth Vader lantern meant for trick-or-treating. I'm glad it was dark. Nobody was able to peer into the window and see me doing my version of a low budget horror movie: Little House on the Prairie meets the Blair Witch Project.
I was on a mission. True, ice cream could probably last pretty long in the freezer, but I couldn't take that chance. True, cottage cheese in the warm refrigerator probably has a much higher mortality rate. True, eating ice cream would only make me colder, but we all have to make sacrifices in these situations. I had images of them finding my frozen carcass three days later, sitting up in bed, eyes wide open, an eager look on my face and my rigamortised hand still wrapped around the spoon. At first, they might think I was covered in blood but with closer inspection realized it was just chocolate syrup poorly aimed in the dark.