The day started with seven dead electrical outlets, one broken toilet, three cereal bowls full of popcorn and a snit.
As I mopped, ran back and forth to the breaker box and started the unanticipated load of toilet-water laundry, I could have done it all without a word, letting him finish readying for work to head out the door to a hopefully better day…but I did not.
It seems the electrical outlets were not the only ones burned out by the overload of activity in the sum total of 30 minutes my feet had been on the floor. The friction of my frustration at our manic morning electrified my emotions as I amped up the voltage and hit him with one of those live wires that starts, “Why didn’t you just…”
I was in a snit. Not a full-blown fit where everything overheats and melts down. A snit. Not a fight where sparks fly and you lash out at the other person with malintent and heat-seeking precision. Just a snit, my own personal huff where I should phrase my questions better or not ask them at all because the answers are really no longer relevant. Just a snit where if someone had not been grounded enough to know better than to engage, they might have gotten quite a jolt.
My husband and I are wired very differently. Differently than most outsiders anticipate. Many a mechanic has been shocked to find I am the one they need to direct their diagnosis to. I am the spatial-relations-assemble-the-furniture-fix-the-vacuum-with-a-butter-knife-call-the-plumber-can-always-find-true-north-fix-the-immediate-problem partner in our nuptial pact. But I still love nail polish, Vogue and huge glitzy holiday parties filled with friends.
He is the way-with-words-master-communicator-buy-quality-so-it-doesn’t-break-always-book-a-reservation-let-someone-else-drive-make-sure-everyone-is-heard-resolve-the-issue-to-the-best-resolution-for-all component to our cohabitation. And he still loves boxing, hoagies and EA PlayStation marathons with his brothers at Christmas.
AC and DC, two very different types of current, both powering the same household. AC changes directions quickly, plugs right in and rolls with it. She gets her energy from outside connections and is great at keeping the daily things running. But she shuts down when the wires get crossed or the squall becomes incessant.
DC weathers the storm, is self-sufficient, great for portability and keeps the lights on when the darkness is closing in. He supplies a direct, focused, steady flow of current. However, the batteries drain and he needs time out from all of the activity to recharge.
And, for the most part, we ebb and flow as needed according to our individual talents. However, this particular morning, the current chaos had all landed directly in my wheelhouse and I had revved up my resentment over our existing electrical grid.
Zap! Snit! Zing! I was short-circuiting. And once my husband walked out the door, I satiated my stress with three full cereal bowls of salty satisfaction popped to perfection for breakfast. Crunching the kernels as I bit my tongue and swallowed down all of the unhelpful utterances which sought to escape my now fully galvanized disposition directly into my empty kitchen.
Then I fixed the toilet, dried the clothes and called the electrician.
I waited for his prognosis, prepared for some massive problem that required immediate maintenance. An underlying error so monumental it was placing us all in peril and required a complete dismantling of the current system…but no.
Turns out, the breaker box was fine. All of the outlets were fine. All of the connections were solid. It was the wiring that was a little wacky. It had been laid long ago and all routed in a very unconventional way. Which worked for the most part, but on occasion, with just the right configuration of demands, overburdened the circuit. It happens in most households from time to time. So he put in a reset button.
According to him, no matter how screwy the wiring, if everything’s good overall and there’s no chance of getting burned, unless it’s driving you to drink, just go with it. Take a moment, unplug for a bit, then press reset.
So, after he left. I took a moment and unplugged for a bit. Then I picked up my phone, called my husband and pressed reset.
— Laura Becker
Laura Becker is an essayist who currently resides in Redondo Beach with her screenwriting partner/husband. Born in Missouri. Raised in Kansas. Adolescence/young adulthood in Iowa, which, according to Walter Neft in Double Indemnity, makes her a native Californian. She writes, quips, muses and laughs about almost anything…almost.