The lamp for the spare bedroom was delivered today. It was packed into the tiniest box, the lampshade rolled up like a scroll from the lord of a neighboring manor. I unfurled it, as they say in the reconstruction of deconstructed cheap lamps business, and snapped it with tiny plastic grabbers to the lampshade frame.
It felt like it was 1956 and I was at the workbench in the garage, the dark night all around me, tools hung on their perfect hooks, peanut butter jars filled with screws and nuts, a vice gripping the edge of the wooden worktable, a bare bulb hanging by a wire over my head, casting a halo over my new tiny lamp and me, like I was fixing a toaster. Like my dad,
Soon, there won’t be anyone whose dad fixed the toaster. No one fixes toasters anymore. And what was it in a toaster that broke anyway?
“Roy, the toaster’s not working right, can you take a look at it?”
My grandmother didn’t have a toaster. She made toast on a metal rack that sat on a burner of her stove. She also had a big drawer that pulled out and was full of flour, like entirely full of flour, so she could shovel it into a bowl and make bread. She also had to shovel coal into her furnace. Coal and flour. And then there was snow. She was a widow so all the shoveling came down to her.
The lamp is for light in the spare bedroom. It replaces a broken painted glass lamp that was my mother’s and it will sit, as her lamp did, on the vanity that was in my parents’ room for decades. I won’t throw away the glass lamp but I can’t fix it, although my dad probably could if he were here. Be that as it may, as we used to say, we still need light.