The doo-hickies connect to the whatchamacallits

The doo-hickies connect to the whatchamacallits By Bob Karolevitz How many Norwegians and Polanders does it take to change a light bulb?

Two: Phyllis and me, that's what!

We know because we did it the hard way. It started when an ornamental ceiling light went out in our bedroom after 20 years of unfailing service.

We'll have to get that bulb replaced," she said. "I'll call the electrician today."

"No you won't," said I, confidently. "I can do it myself."

My first mistake was carrying the aluminum stepladder upstairs without scratching the walls. Aluminum ladders don't bend to get around corners, and our stairway has a couple of them.

My second mistake came after I removed the globe and unscrewed the burned-out bulb. Only the glass part came out in my hand.

I was smart enough to turn the power off then, but not smart enough to get the base of the broken bulb out of the socket. Up to this point, all Phyllis did was hold the ladder so I wouldn't fall.

With a needle-nose pliers � and several other tools � I dug into the fixture to get the tenacious bulb base loose. I finally succeeded, but in the process I also destroyed the socket.

Now a simple problem became a serious one. I would have to take down the entire fixture and get a new socket.

I unscrewed several doo-hickies, including the little gadgets which tied the electric wires together. All of a sudden the heavy fixture came loose from the receptacle in the ceiling, and I caught it before it fell.

That's when I realized I had made my third mistake. I should have called the electrician in the first place. Phyllis � who was right, of course � just laughed.

I couldn't install a new socket, even if I had one, so I drove to town to the shop of the professionals who didn't laugh at my dilemma � for which I am grateful.

"Sure, we can fix that," one of them said. "We'll have it in a couple of days."

Not counting the gas of the two trips to town, the simple bulb replacement was starting to cost money. But by this time my innate stubbornness had taken over, and I drove home, resolving to put the #@!!!*&�+ thing back up without help.

Thank goodness I remembered to turn the power off again!

Unfortunately I needed at least three hands to hold up the fixture while I hooked the wires together. Frustrated, I yelled for Phyllis (who was probably snickering in the kitchen).

Dutifully she came with her little house ladder which was tall enough for her to hold the fixture up to the ceiling � if she stretched her arms like a football referee signalling a touchdown. It was not good for the old arthritis!

It seemed like eons before I made all the necessary connections. Phyllis's arms would have atrophied if I hadn't let her put them down a couple of times while I held up the fixture myself. The same thing happened when her nose started itching, and we had to stop while she scratched.

At long last � after about a dozen tries � I finally screwed on the little round whatchamacallits which hooked everything to the receptacle in the ceiling. I put in the bulb, hoping against hope that it would light up when I turned the power back on.

I won't bore you with the details of how we got the globe replaced without dropping it � and how we got the stepladder back downstairs without gouging the walls.

Admittedly, the fixture isn't fastened to the ceiling as solidly as it was, but when I flipped the switch, the light went on.


It had only taken hours to do what an electrician would have done in minutes. Hopefully the bulb will last another 20 years. I'll be 98 then, and if it needs replacement, I sure as heck won't tell Phyllis, "I can do it myself!"

© 2001 Robert F. Karolevitz

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