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Cardella: Let There Be Light

I’m not going to kid you. It was a rough week for me. There are times the column writes itself. This week was not one of them. It’s strange that there can be a week when so much is going on in the world, yet I’ve got nothing to say. This week was one of them.

My wife Fran keeps tossing out topics to me. Nothing ignites nary a spark of creativity. She takes advantage of one of the few times I’m not hogging the computer. She’s dealing with what I call “the situation.” My diet situation.

I’m at the stage of life where many of the joys of food have been taken from me. The portions I’m allowed are a joke. Everything is measured. Even my fluid intake is restricted to 1,500 ml per day — barely enough to swallow my multitude of pills. My wife tries to make my meals interesting. A herculean task. The situation, as I call it. She spends a good part of her waking time trying to figure out what she can serve me. So she searches the internet for creative dietetic meals. Good luck with that.

This time, as she searches for recipes and life solutions for me, she cries out. An alert has sounded. She’s hit a site that’s infected with a virus. Who would’ve thought the recipe for chicken marsala would be booby-trapped? We do what we’ve always done in times of crisis. We shout at one another.

For some reason the way our desktop computer is set up, it takes a fearless person of sharp eye and unusual flexibility to squeeze into the small area with tangled wires to be able to find the off switch to shut down the computer. That’s my wife. Finally after much cursing in two-part harmony by the two of us, the computer is shut down. It’s already getting late. And, anyway there’s not enough light left in the room for us to check the computer. We call it a night. That’s the way most of our arguments end these days. With a whimper, not a bang. There’s something about a dimly lit room that ends arguments.

It’s the next day. Lunchtime. My wife is at the computer. I still haven’t written my column. The sound is turned off. Am I interested in lunch? She wants to know. We’ve got leftover salmon. That sounds like a fine lunch, I remark. But you either don’t like or can’t have most of the ingredients that make up a salad. Try me, I say rather smugly. Would you like some feta cheese? With salmon? I wrinkle my nose. I take that as a negative, she says. Mushrooms? Negative. And you can’t have tomatoes because of your diet, she says. Seems like we’re down to the fish and some lettuce leaves. Seems that way. Fran refuses to accept the limitations placed upon her. “I’m going to find an interesting recipe,” she says defiantly.

Bound and determined, Fran pushes ahead at our computer. She swears at the pop-up recipes that appear. “I can’t get rid of these pop-up recipes,” she shouts. “How do you think Hemingway felt when he wrote A FAREWELL TO ARMS and a pop-up recipe for eggplant parm suddenly appeared,” I wonder. “You’re no Hemingway,” Fran says, I think a bit unkindly. “And besides, he used a manual typewriter.” Before I can think of a snarky comeback, Fran has a tasty salad on the table, courtesy of the internet recipe.

At this point you might be wondering whether there is a point to this story, especially if you don’t give a hoot about salad recipes. Well, there is. But first you have to picture my dimly lit office. We have one small lamp on the desk that is our one source of light. An unplugged floor lamp sits in the corner of the room with no available outlet. We’ve tried periodically for three years to find an electrician to provide a plan for better lighting. Unsuccessfully. Fran believes I could solve the problem by learning Braille.

We enlist the telephonic help of our friend Ed later that day. (Ed also proofreads my columns, along with Allan.) Ed electronically enters our computer and does a thorough search. Everything is fine. He tells us the problem is simple. Our speakers are turned off. (We have one speaker.) Once again, we go through the tortuous process crawling under the desk. I try to do it myself, but my knee completely collapses, thus requiring Fran to not only turn on the speaker, but help me up.

Who turned the damn speaker off, I shout. Ever-patient Ed cautions me not to question the great questions of the universe. I mention to Ed that we are working with the lighting of a bat cave, but I’m not Batman. Ever-obliging, Ed says he’ll send us a cheap floor lamp. Like the one he has.

In that moment, my wife spots our own UNPLUGGED floor lamp. It’s been sitting in the corner of the office for three years. Unlit. The lamp probably marveling at our stupidity. She grabs the lamp and plugs it into the same outlet as the printer. She flicks the light on.

We have light, I cry. As if electricity has just been discovered. My wife blesses Ed like he just invented electricity. He might as well have, to us.

Next, I’m getting rid of the pop-ups. Rather, Ed is getting rid of the pop-ups for me. Hey, Ed!!!

And that’s how this column got written.

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