A Lightbulb Moment, By Temple Kinyon
The distinct metallic taste filters into my mouth as I suck on my index finger. It’s bleeding, and I’m a bit timid to look and see just how bad. I pull my injured digit out of my mouth and inspect the gash. It’s deep, but probably not in need of stitches. Fat drops of red begin to drip again slowly from the slash. I rummage around in the drawer with my good hand and find my prized llama band-aids. Their extra sticky adhesive makes them perfect for busy adult hands, even though they’re made for kids. I carefully wrap the purple bandage around my finger, making sure to cover the laceration with the tiny, white gauze.
I focus back on the project I was working on when the incident happened. The plastic package sits on the counter, still containing the light bulb I need. It taunts me. Open me. Go ahead, Temple. Try it.
Before receiving the cut on my finger, I attempted to open the seemingly innocent lightbulb package by merely trying to pull the cardboard backing loose from the plastic bubble around the bulb. After several failed attempts, I had decided to attempt to separate the plastic from the backing using my fingernail. Nothing. “Surely, I’m smarter than a plastic package,” I had muttered.
My next effort involved a tiny, ceramic blade manufactured specifically to “slice right through any plastic.” I slid it across the front of the package. The plastic was thick, however, and I only managed to create a hole about two inches long. The light bulb needed at least double that to pop out of its hold. Once the ceramic blade made its first cut, it wasn’t as effective, though. The plastic now had some give because of the hole, and all the tiny blade could do was make a dent.
“To heck with it,” I had exclaimed. I ripped at the plastic with both hands in a savage burst of defiance. “This package WILL NOT WIN.” In an instant, a piercing pain seared through my left index finger as the sharp edge of the cut plastic sliced into my skin.
I stand there, furious, bleeding, a little sweaty, and still nothing. All I want is a stupid light bulb. Nothing fancy, nothing of any real value to make a plastic package with security equivalent to Fort Knox. Just a flippin’ light bulb to screw into the lamp and go on about my day. I refuse to give up. I need the bulb; the rest of the bulbs upstairs are encased in plastic just like this one, so no easier solution exists. Persistence takes over.
Finger bandaged, I take a huge breath and release a long list of cuss words that would make even my more indiscriminate friends blanch. I’m filled with heated determination. THIS round will go to ME.
I retrieve scissors from the drawer, thinking I’ll just finish cutting the plastic and free my prize. Only it doesn’t go like that. The scissor blades buckle and leave only a white mark in the plastic. I try again using both hands on the scissor handles to exert enough pressure to force the blades to cut. Nothing happens. Fury boils inside and ticks time off my life; I’m positive my blood pressure would ping at least 200/125.
The struggle with the scissors brings on another round of cussing, but this time I direct it at every single plastic package manufacturer in the world and the sadistic humans who engineered this monstrosity. I curse them, their families, their past generations, their future generations, their bosses, and I finish off by nailing the guy who invented plastic in the first place. (Google says it’s Leo Hendrik Baekeland, a name now burned into my memory bank for future reference).
With my breaking point in the rearview mirror, I fling the scissors aside, muster all the energy I have, grab the plastic, and pull as hard as I can. If my hands end up shredded, at least I’ll have the bulb to screw into my lamp and actually see if the sure-to-happen cuts warrant a trip to the ER.
The plastic encasing immediately and easily pops free of the backing. Out rolls my bulb. How come that didn’t happen the first time?! I scramble to catch the bulb before it rolls off the counter and shatters into a million pieces.
My hysterical shrieks and whoops fill the room, and I dance the jig of a winner. YES! I AM THE WINNER. I BEAT PLASTIC PACKAGING!
My jubilation soars as I screw the freed bulb into the lamp, only feeling the slight heartbeat throb in the cut on my finger. I click on the lamp, and beautiful light floods the room. I sense my blood pressure return to normal and my negative energy ebb. I decide to reward myself with a snack. Yes, just a simple snack for the winner is in order.
I march triumphantly up to the pantry and spy an unopened box of crackers. The cardboard flap at the top of the cracker box pops right open and reveals a plastic bag of yummy delights. With little thought, I grasp the bag out of the box and try to pull it open. The seal holds fast. I try again, thinking if I just yank a little harder, the seal will give and reveal the buttery, crispy goodness. But it doesn’t.
Beady sweat starts to form again on my brow, and I utter a cuss word. This can’t be happening again. I wipe my sweaty hands on my pants, thinking they might be slippery against the plastic bag. “That ought to do it,” I pronounce to my trusty sidekick Pippa the Bulldog. She gives me a sideways cynical glance with the message, “This is going to be rich,” but I ignore her and start pulling once again.
I wrestle and tug, and eventually, feel the bag’s stubbornness start to give a little at a time. Ever so slightly, the seal begins to surrender. I exert a bit more muscle, my hands pulling in opposition. Just one more little bit of pressure. . .
Suddenly, the seal breaks apart, and before I can stop it from happening, the entire bag from top to bottom rips wide open. Dozens—maybe hundreds—of crackers, freed of their prison, launch into the air in a confetti-like burst, landing in my hair and all over the kitchen floor.
I stand, dumbfounded. I look down at the mangled bag in my hand. There’s nothing left of it but two pieces of plastic, held together by the fraction of glue that didn’t give up. Pippa hungrily dives into the unexpected treasures littered all over the floor.
It takes me a moment to shake out of my disbelief that once again, the plastic packaging in my life seems to have some sort of vendetta against me. The devastation is complete. No survivors. No crackers.
I fetch the broom and dustpan and clean up what mess is left after Pippa’s feeding frenzy, dejected the crackers are ruined for me. Pippa, however, smiles…wait…is that a smirk of triumph brought on by my ugly loss to something so trite as plastic packaging? I smirk back at her, thinking it’ll make me feel better, but all that accomplishes is nothing. She’s a dog with nary a care in the world now that her tummy is full of crackers.
My stomach growls and finger throbs. This must be what Howard Cosell labeled as “the agony of defeat.”
I open the trash can lid and brush the crackers and the shreds of the plastic bag from the dustpan. The mess lands on top of the mangled light bulb package. I swear I hear echos rise out of the receptacle—Lucifer himself laughing from the depths of hell that the plastic got the best of me. I glare at the evidence of the morning’s chaos and vow the next time a light bulb goes out, I’ll sit in the dark for as long as it takes until my husband can fight his own bloody battle to retrieve a bulb and bring back the light.
I’ll keep my llama band-aids handy.
Since this is Home & Harvest Magazine, Temple has offered some insight on the subject of harvest and felt offering a look inside her home would be appropriate. As a non-decorator, mediocre cook, and less-than-creative landscaper, she usually experiences adventures such as this one when wearing her homemaker hat. She hopes some of you can relate to simple frustrations of life eventually morphing into jocular conversations. Sometimes all you can do is laugh.