“With no power, his food will spoil,” she said. “We have to take him home!”
This comment triggered a sense of familial responsibility. I stepped out onto the balcony to gather my thoughts on how to salvage our vacation, only to see that the telephone pole at the end of our driveway was discharging a gaggle of electrical sparks. In any other location they would have complimented the perfect summer sky but I knew that their presence would greatly upset the anxious parents sitting by the baby monitor. Before I could return to inform my family about the incident, the house lights went out and the telephone pole rapidly caught fire.
“Hey guys, would you mind coming out here for a second?” I asked.
My parents reluctantly opened their eyes, as they have been trained to question the merit of my statements, but quickly came outside after hearing my wailing sister. My Mother’s birthday wish had come true. She always wanted to have a fire on the beach. Unfortunately, this feral flame was situated in our driveway.
My sister and her husband grabbed their sleeping child and sprinted across the lawn to the neighbors that were inviting us over from their plush porch. Although it would not be out of character for a member of my family to storm uninvited into a strangers home, we had met this couple earlier that day on the beach as my Mom made sure that everyone and anyone had the privilege to appreciate her handsome grandson. Shortly after they fled, my Mom followed suit, secretly wanting to get a tour of the affable neighbors’ home and to imbibe a complimentary glass of wine.
With the sounds of fire engines approaching, my Father and I stood on the road and stared at the flame, mesmerized like Jonah, who only a few hours earlier inspected the horizon for the very first time, galvanized by its seemingly interminable existence. As the wires split and the fire sizzled, my Father, the person who spent months agonizing over the perfect location and date for our family trip, and had successfully found everything we could have wanted, turned to me and said, “this is exciting stuff, huh?” He was absolutely right. There was no need to worry, at least not over this.
It wasn’t long before the firemen arrived and much to our surprise, they calmly joined us, monitoring the electrical fire, permitting it to run its course. The pole was unfazed by the flames and we were assured that the power would be back shortly. However, they reminded us to keep the refrigerator closed, “just in case.” As the final piece of plastic melted, I asked the chief if the source of the fire was caused by my Mom’s “inability to cook salmon.” Slightly amused by my inane inquiry, he smirked and sagaciously said, “sometimes these things just happen.”
Moments later we returned to the house to discover that in such haste we had neglected to blow out Nana’s candle. Lit only by the flickering beam and the fading monitor, my family sat around the table as Jonah’s minimal tears were washed out by the sound of the released traffic that was backed up on Dune Road.
After raving about the neighbors interior design, my Mom reminded us about the last time we experienced a power outage and how we played gin rummy until our single flashlight ran out of batteries. She then shot me a deviant smile, a nurturing warning for what she was about to reveal.
“Do you know why we have so many of these candles in our closet?” asked my Mom.
“You’re a serial hoarder,” replied my newly composed sister.
“Incorrect. It’s because your brother went to the grocery store and purchased forty of them!”
“I was trying to be a chivalrous son,” I added. “Is it fair that I will forever be considered some sort of reprobate for unintentionally buying Yartzeit candles?”
This admission induced a fervent laughter from all those surrounding the table. The harmonious and cathartic chuckling lasted for several minutes until it created a current that almost blew out Nana’s flame.
“Come on, have some respect for Nana,” I said. “And her enormous breasts.”