Survival guide for the electrically challenged

Jan. 25, 2014 @ 10:12 AM

So, it’s 10 o’clock at night, and, unusually late for me, I’m getting ready for bed. (Mostly, I’m asleep by 10, not because I’m old and exhausted from teaching children all day, but because ... well ... fine, I’m old and exhausted from teaching children all day. But last Friday night I tried desperately to pretend I’m young and have the energy of, say, a 50-year-old, so I stayed up all the way to 10 o’clock!)  

Anyway, I’m turning on the dryer, starting the dishwasher, taking my shower, donning the flannel nightgown (which, contrary to popular belief, can be extremely sexy ... shut up), washing my face, and everything women do to get ready for bed (as opposed to men, who “get ready” by brushing their teeth, taking off their clothes, and passing out).  I’m finally flossing when the lights go out.
Now I’m not normally a panicky, overreacting kind of person (Hear that? That was the sound of everyone I’ve ever met dropping their coffee all over their laps ... serves them right.) but we’re not having a storm tonight. There is no wind, no rain, no hail, sleet or snow. There’s just cold. Very cold. Like bone-chilling cold. But, I don’t think bone-chilling cold normally causes power outages.
Naturally, therefore, my first thought is that someone has cut my power lines in order to plunge me into darkness, the phones not working (and my cellphone is in my car in the garage because I see no need to walk the earth with a phone glued to my head 24/7; my brain cannot take the chance that cell phone frequencies may produce brainial deficiency, and there is no one on the earth with whom I want to be in constant communication, even my grandchildren, bless their hearts).
My second thought is whether I put the shotgun my father gave me for Christmas back where it belongs, and did it have any bullets in it, and if not, where did I put the bullets, and would I remember how to load it, and where did I put those ear-protector thingies because if I have to shoot somebody I might as well not lose my hearing in the process, am I right? 
So, this bad guy, whoever he is -- burglar, ax murderer, terrorist, whatever -- obviously cut the power so he can come in and get me, but instead, he will confront a ticked-off, middle-aged, shotgun-wielding, flannel-nightgown-wearing over-reactor, and if he has any sense of self-preservation, he will run like the wind.
But, before I arm myself to the teeth, I glance out the window, and through the woods I can see that my neighbors’ lights are out as well. They have four little boys under the age of 9; their lights are ALWAYS on. So I forget the gun, and call the electric company, which hasn’t employed a real human being in decades, so the robot voice (which first tells me they have no account associated with my phone number, but then who’s cashing my checks, I want to ask, but who can argue with a robot) announces that there is a power outage in my area. Who knew? But they expect it to be fixed by 12:30 a.m.
So I feel my way to the front closet and get my emergency radio/flashlight, which I prop on my shoulder in bed so I can read. The dogs, Gabby and Kasey, are unaffected and already asleep, and I finally start to drift off. 
I awaken at midnight for three reasons: My nose, which is the only thing exposed, has become a cute, perky icicle; I need to visit the bathroom; Gabby is throwing up on the bed.
OK, I know I have to get up and tend to the dog as well as the bedspread, but it is seriously cold in this house, I mean frigid, glacial cold (and my house is brick and sits in the woods and is normally 10 degrees lower than the outside anyway) so, I give it a good deal of thought first. But, circumstances being beyond my control, I get up and do my duty with due diligence (even in emergencies, I employ alliteration). I also call the electric company again, and again I’m told 12:30 is their target time.
So, I don sweatpants, thick woolly socks, and sweatshirt with a hood on top of my nightgown, go back to bed - under the disdainful gazes of the dogs - and remember that the TV had been on and I have no way to turn it off now, so I might as well stay awake until 12:30. 
The power leaps to life -- at 9 a.m. When I thaw out, I’m going to get those ear-protector thingies -- and find that robot.

Vicki Wentz is a local writer, teacher and speaker. Readers may contact her at, or by visiting her website at