When I was eight years old, a few of the neighborhood children wanted to put on a
March of Dimes talent show in Arnold Resnick’s garage. Arnold talked Sandra, my
cousin Stephen, and me into participating. One of our tasks was to set up chairs in the
backyard for attendees. I was also put in charge of the lights. “All you have to do is hold
up that floodlight and point it at the performers,” Arnold said.
The floodlight consisted of a round metal dish that held one light bulb. A frayed
electrical cord dangled from it with the plug that could be inserted into a wall outlet or
another longer cord. We were kids. We didn’t think beyond our noses. All we knew was
that since our performances would take place after dusk for the paying patron saints, the
lighting was critically important.
We started the rehearsal inside the garage, because the closest electrical outlet was the
length of the floodlight cord and only a few feet from this practice performance area.
“Quiet on the set!” Arnold shouted. “Lights and action!” he added.
Feeling important and visualizing one of the lighting men on the set of my father’s
musical productions, I held up the flimsy floodlight fixture and clicked on the button just
above the dish. Nothing happened.
“It’s not plugged into the wall!” Arnold bellowed.
I gripped the dish tightly in both hands, pointing the bulb directly at the scene of
action. I didn’t want a second criticism. Kids make faces at you, when you mess up, and
such visual disapproval made me cringe. My innate shyness required approval. One of
the other kids grabbed the cord and pushed the plug into the socket. “Yeeeow!” I yelled,
as a mysterious zapping shocked me into the rigidity of a fence post. My mouth stayed
open, but no more sound came out. My eyes widened in terror. My hands stayed glued to
that silver-toned reflector. My heart raced and pounded like a tympani drum.
“Let go! Let go!” Stephan shouted. “I can’t, I’m stuck, --------------------------------
“Pull the plug. Pull the plug.” Arnold’s face turned red and then white.
I can still experience the gush of electrical power that instigated that startling shock as
it raced up my arms. Fortunately, my hands weren’t wet, or the experience could have
been much worse that it was. I was too young to realize what was happening and how
close I had come to being fatally electrocuted. And kudos to the boy who yanked the plug
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