how a light bulb causes a light bulb to go off

Sometimes, editing photos is like deep meditation. Plug in the headphones, clear the head, and just groove. It’s at these times (and bath time) where I get my thoughts from.

Perspective told within a story, and how my parents didn’t fuck me up.

It was coming up on Christmas at the Falco house. Let me paint a picture – simple small 60’s kitchen, small table with 4 chairs, dinner is on the table, We’re all sitting at the table like we normally do for dinner. Happy Happy Family – in my perception.

Flash back a few days earlier, as my dad was preparing the Christmas lights to be installed and checking all the bulbs my dad came up with this ingenious idea of making a “test socket”. Now mind you these were the old school lights with full on lamp cord as the wiring and glass bulbs that screwed into a mini Edison socket – none of this low-voltage LED technology but good-old-fashioned high voltage lights. He’s so proud of his invention, it’s going to save him so much time testing bulbs. His invention, basically he took a lamp cord and wired one end right to one of the mini bulb sockets, the other end a plug that goes directly into the wall. Now I do not remember how old I was, but suffice to say, I was on the lower end of the Gaussian curve of “life experience”.

I see a shiny object, and it glows this wondrous light, and I must have it in my possession!!!

My dad specifically warns me how dangerous it is, that it’s not a toy, and I can hurt myself if I touch it. Clearly he did his full disclosure parenting conversation and he was absolved of all responsibilities and liabilities if I were to touch this light tester.

As he thinks I’m making eye contact with him and fully comprehending the gravity of it all, I’m just nodding my head mesmerized by the shiny.

A few hours later I go grab the shiny and bring it to my room. Plug it in and stare, and stare, and stare. As I get called to dinner I panic, knowing full well I am not supposed to be playing with this high voltage light tester my dad had made.  In my panic I stuff it under my mattress and run to the dinner table.

Remember that lovely image I painted earlier, the 4 of us around this cozy kitchen table, being a family and eating and talking.

I think it was my sister who first said “do you smell something burning?”

My parents put their forks down, sniff in the air, and say “Yeah, something is burning”

Michael stares at his plate and says nothing.

As they are sniffing the air, clearly smelling the smoke I also smell, my sister looks out of the kitchen and sees smoke billowing out of my room. Well I assume billowing because the way she screamed; it could have been the towering inferno. I do not know because I didn't see any smoke, I dared not move, I just kept my eyes down on my plate, stoic.

My dad jumps from the table, runs to my bedroom and proceeds to put out the fire I created by shoving this high-voltage light tester between my mattress and box spring. My mom and my sister follow him in a panic. I do not move from the table, not saying a word, starring at my plate. This is how I remember it.

The following events are still foggy, lets just say there was lots of yelling, explaining how horrible this could have been, that if we had left the house as I stuffed the light tester under my mattress it would have easily burned down my family’s home. This was a HUGE! I processed the gravity of the moment and it was a lesson for me.

My actions directly effect others, whether I like it or not, I have no choice in this. Now I’m not saying I was all Zen like at an age where I didn’t even know Zen existed but it planted a seed, it caused a ripple.

Anyhow, my point I was trying to make is simple and I went all Falco. The point is after all the yelling and screaming my dad did, he also let me understand that he was mad at the situation, and how my inexperience could have put my entire family in danger.  He may not have thought he got through to me, but he did.

This is my perception of this story, my father taught me a lesson, one of many. My mom also taught me a lesson as well – by simply saying “he’s your son” to my dad diffuses a lot of situations into uncontrollable laughs. I think my dad eventually learned this lesson as well because eventually he started directing the same comment to my mom years later.

I could have easily made this life lesson a horrible scar on my psyche, but I didn’t. I turned it into a valuable lesson, one of many that my parents taught, and that’s how they didn’t fuck me up.

Nick Cage said it best in portraying his character Ben in “Leaving Las Vegas” –

“I don't know if I started drinking 'cause my wife left me or my wife left me 'cause I started drinking, but fuck it anyway.” We all know how that movie turned out. You see the lesson there? Perception my dear friend, it really is that simple.