GARY SMITH: Resisting the dark side

Lost power scares up tension at home

Posted: November 10, 2017 at 1 a.m.

One of the clichés that always gets tossed around in moments of stress is that there are no atheists in foxholes.

So I get the big picture, but I'm thinking the point is that in those circumstances in which we are under the most duress, we tend to fall back on long-held beliefs in things unseen, the stuff of which faith is made.

Problem is, us being us, that belief doesn't necessarily ride gently on the wings of our better angels. And while faith itself is seldom reasonable, stress tends to deliver us to any available port. Even the port of "you know that makes absolutely no sense, right?"

Which explains a large portion of what went on last Friday night. When the lights went out.

Now, as we have determined earlier, the Lovely Mrs. Smith is, among many other worthwhile attributes, pretty darned tough. She has an incredibly high threshold of pain and had four children with minimal, at best, medication. They could have given me what she didn't want, but no one asks the father.

She has handled all sorts of emergencies involving pets, children or their accident-prone father (the children, not the pets) with steadiness and grace. Whatever you want to throw at her, she can pretty much handle.

And she's terrified of the dark.

All right, so "the dark" isn't necessarily everyone's favorite. I mean, once you get over gazing at the moon and start running into things, you begin to realize it's just really hard to see at night. And, as we've determined previously, I don't really need any more good reasons to fall over stuff.

But there's a difference between being pretty annoyed that you couldn't see to avoid that door with your nose and acting like the little girl from "The Exorcist" just delivered your Girl Scout cookies. And the Lovely Mrs. Smith falls firmly in the latter category.

She's been terrified of the dark for some time now, so at least she's learned the coping strategy of sort of easing into it. As in, in bed with the covers pulled up just underneath your nose, the burglar alarm engaged and all the locks locked, checked and locked again. At that point, turning off the lights is permitted, but only if there's a light on in the kitchen, so at least the idea of illumination still exists.

It's a little involved but, after 30-plus years, you get used to things. I mean, it could be worse. She could want a dog to sleep with us or something.

So if it takes someone that long a runway to get ready for the lights to go out, imagine if you will the reaction if it just ...happens. You can. I don't have to.

Now, as fate (and apparently, a transformer located somewhere in Benton County) would have it, I was actually in the same room (more or less) as my lovely bride when this catastrophe hit. During the earthquake a few years ago, I was ...otherwise disposed (hey, at least I was reading) and it took me several minutes to explain that, no, the furniture was shaking because the earth was moving, not that we had been spontaneously possessed by demons.

So it shouldn't have come as a surprise to me when the lights flickered, then cut out altogether and my wife responded calmly and suggested that, apparently, there had been a problem with the power grid and we should just wait patiently for it to be fixed.

What am I saying? It would have come as a total surprise to me, because what actually happened was she screamed and hid behind the bathroom room, convinced the ghosts had come for us. Which ghosts she wasn't specific about, since we don't know too many people who have (a) died and (b) didn't like us so much they'd plunge an entire part of the city into darkness just to get a chance to say "boo."

All's well that ends well, or, in this case, with us not being dragged off to the spirit world. The lights eventually came back on and I was able to use the experience to convince her that power outages are nothing to be afraid of and we have nothing to fear from the dark.

I'm sure that took. I mean, it's totally reasonable. And if the Lovely Mrs. Smith has proven to be anything, it's reasonable when it comes to events of nature and power outages.

I'll be buying flashlights in bulk from now on.

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