Blinded by the light


Down is not always a straight path, especially when using the stairwell to our basement. Halfway down, there’s a landing and then a sharp turn to the left. With lights on, this turn is easily navigated, but with lights off, the turn becomes treacherous.

The overhead light bulbs shorted out just before my foot touched the landing, throwing the stairwell into complete darkness — and throwing me to the floor. Luckily I ran into, and bounced off of, the far wall first or it would’ve really hurt.

After feeling my way tentatively down the rest of the steps, my pathway was now illuminated: a trip to that giant hardware store with the big orange roof was in order. Besides, I really wanted to see all the new inflatable lawn displays they had for Christmas — perhaps little elves fighting over presents like my three brothers, The Sister and me did back on Flamingo?

But first, I had to buy new light bulbs … but exactly which ones? It would take over $300 — and three hours — to shed light on that question.

Christmastime at the giant hardware store is a spectacular sight. Walking through the front doors, I was immediately transported to Christmas Land. High above, suspended some twenty feet in the air, was every lawn inflatable I could possibly imagine. Some were static, some sang classical Christmas songs, and still others were live action! Santa climbing down a chimney then back out again, Reindeer pawing the ground, the Grinch, and Olaf.

They even had a twelve-foot inflatable Bumble that I remembered from my childhood! Bumble is the abominable snowman from Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. (Wonder if our HOA would approve of Bumble being a permanent fixture to our front lawn?) But I digress; this story isn’t how I tried to convince The Wife that Bumble needed a new home (ours). It’s about new lights for the basement stairwell.

Promising I’d soon be back, I gave a brief wave goodbye to Bumble and made my way to the light bulb aisle. Yep, the giant hardware store with the orange roof has lots of lawn inflatables, but it also has an entire aisle dedicated to light bulbs, and if you ask me that’s a bright idea.

Incandescent, LEDs, CFLs, cone-shaped, and spiral bulbs were all neatly arranged down the aisle from floor to as high as I could reach. Each light had a range from soft white to sunlight. With our basement stairwell being so dark, I bought the ones that were super sunlight and headed to the checkout – with a small stop by the giant Bumble. He was so big I had to get a bigger cart.

As hard as it was to get a twelve-foot Bumble in my cart, it was simply impossible to get him into or tie to the top of the car. Sadly, I decided to deflate and stuff him inside. Once home, Bumble and I went straight to the front lawn to get things set up.

Bumble wasn’t the only lawn decoration I had bought. The nice folks with all those brown delivery trucks had made a delivery at out house while we were gone. The “We” being me and my Bumble.

On our front porch was a pre-lit Rudolph Reindeer, tree, Hermey, Cornelius, and Santa tinsel yard display. Unfortunately, it all had to be assembled, so it was back to the basement for me.

Flipping the switch, I once again tumbled down the basement steps … right into the wall at the landing. Seems super sunlight bulbs will blind you in a small stairwell.

The Wife heard all the clatter, came around the corner to see what was the matter … and to inquire as to why I spent all of our Christmas budget on lawn decorations and a giant inflatable Bumble.

Sadly, The Wife (and the HOA) didn’t approve of my new purchases so Bumble had to go back to the giant hardware store. And, sadly, Rudolf and company were whisked away again by one of those brown delivery trucks.

But this story does have a happy ending. With all that money back in our Christmas budget, I can now go out and buy what we really need to enjoy the holidays: Matching light-up Christmas sweaters!

[Rick Ryckeley has been writing stories since 2001. To read more of Rick’s stories, visit his blog:]