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‘Well, you see, there was this power outage …’

SALISBURY — Driving into work Tuesday morning, I noticed the new traffic signal at N.C. 150 and Lincolnton Road wasn’t working — no doubt a residual from the thunderstorm that came barreling through Rowan County Monday evening.
It also made me think of the power outage my wife and I had survived at our house. Expecting the worst even before I arrived home from work, Lindsay had lighted some scented candles — one in the kitchen and another on the fireplace mantle in the living room — in case the lights went out.
Sure enough, at 9:13 p.m., even though the storm already had pushed through, our lights and television flickered on and off twice until plunging us into candlelight conversation.
We waited a few minutes for the lights to come back before realizing we were in a full-fledged blackout. This is when my manly experience with all things electrical kicked in and I did what all red-blooded American males do when the power goes off — I grabbed us two beers.
I also followed what comes second in my personal Power Outage Manual. I walked out front — far enough to look around the bushes — and made sure everyone else in the neighborhood was in the same boat.
They were. The only light came from an emerging moon, lightning bugs and those solar-powered lights some of our neighbors use around their landscaping.
I told Lindsay it was funny that lightning bugs had power and we didn’t.
Back in the house, she and I found ourselves forced to talk to each other instead of watching the next installment of “Major Crimes” or “24.” The discussion meandered, touching on her recent trip to Tennessee to see her father to whether we should chance opening up the refrigerator to grab a yogurt.
It didn’t take long for us to realize how warm and stuffy things were starting to become in the living room, so we took our beers and conversation to the front porch.
I also grabbed my cellphone so I could follow through on course-of-action No. 3 in my Power Outage Manual: call 1-800-POWER-ON. My call to Duke Energy led to a woman’s recorded voice, telling me, indeed, power outages had been reported in the Salisbury area and that the company projected service would be restored by midnight.
Meanwhile, as though the lack of electricity and sounds of frogs croaking down by the creek were making us punchy, Lindsay and I sat there on the porch talking about increasingly weirder things as the darkness continued.
I confessed my concern that sometime soon I would have to use the bathroom and how that might involve a trip into the woods. Lindsay noted a coyote had been spotted in our subdivision recently and how it might be difficult for her to explain to nurses in the emergency room how her husband was bitten on his bare butt while out for a walk at night.
We also have been doing some estate planning lately, which includes some decisions we each have to make on what to do should one of us reach a comatose or vegetative state.
Lindsay said if she were brain dead and being kept alive only by machines, I should pull the plug.
“That’s a no-brainer,” she added, quite happy with her joke.
Without the hint of a breeze, the muggy temperature on the front porch was no better than inside the house. I announced I was going back in to save myself from mosquitoes.
By the time Lindsay also returned from the porch, I had taken off my pants and was sitting in the recliner. I decided this must be how it starts for grandpas who walk around the house without any pants on.
It begins with a power outage.
Lindsay seemed to buy this explanation, and it wasn’t too long before I noticed she was sitting on the couch, having shed her long pants, too.
We tried to entertain ourselves by winding one of those hand-powered radios and finding a clear-signal FM station with music. The radio includes a flashlight, so I drove our cats, Jerry and Elaine, crazy by bouncing some beams off the wall.
I was making my second call to 1-800-POWER-ON when the lights and air-conditioning jolted on at 11:09 p.m., and we were back in business. I took credit for this, declaring that my second telephone call finally had forced Duke Energy into action.
Lindsay announced she was off to bed. I decided to linger downstairs for awhile, sitting around in my boxers and thinking what I could tell folks in the emergency room should a future walk in the woods go haywire.
Somehow, I’d have to work in that part about being brain dead.

Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263 or mwineka@salisburypost.com.

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