Our power winked out at 3 a.m. the other morning. With it went our lights, alarm clocks and the other necessities that my family depends on to survive modern life. For five hours, we lived like people in the 1800s. Well, actually, we were asleep for three of those hours - but I'm sure that sleeping in the 1800s sucked, too. Deprived of modern conveniences, my family surprised me.
I didn't know that if you deprive my wife of a shower, for instance, she will refuse to do anything but sit on the couch in really ugly pajamas. That's how important hot showers are to my wife. I should note here that the power outage did not cause my wife to wear the really ugly pajamas (she always does that), but normally she'll change out of those really ugly pajamas at some point and go to work.
Since my wife was completely nonplussed by the situation, I tried to be, you know, plussed. I started to give her the speech I normally give to the children - my "People in Africa" speech. I like giving this speech because it makes me feel like the light beer version of Bono - all the compassion with a fraction of the actual work.
"People in Africa..." I began.
"Shut up about people in Africa," my wife barked.
I felt less and less like Bono every second.
"We don't have any television. How am I supposed to pick my clothes if I don't know what the weather is like?"
"You could go outside, Sweety," I suggested.
My wife got up in my face. "I'm not a meteorologist, sweety. Do I look like I've got a Triple Doppler radar so that I can just look outside and gauge what the weather is going to be like?"
She had a point.
A couple of hours later, the power company had fixed whatever caused the outage. I had already gone to work by then - without a shower. To my wife's credit, I learned the hard way that my co-workers appreciate the fact that I normally take a shower every morning - even if they never mention it.
I thought about our savage time living in the 1800s and how it put our family to the test and exposed our dependencies. I thought about how that might be a good thing because it taught us a valuable lesson about the things we take for granted. I thought about how valuable lessons usually suck.