Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Light Bulb Controversy

I have a new question to come back with when confronted by the infamous “light bulb joke”. So when I’m next asked by a dear Baptist friend:

“How many Presbyterians does it take to change a light bulb?”

I will reply with:

“Well, is it a European or American light bulb?”

I have a feeling that I could catch them so off guard that rather than answering my question they would once again reply with one of their own, “What?!”

It’s true. There is a difference. I have now seen it for myself and have lived to tell about it. One day last week, while in my bedroom in Cambridge, I thought I had flipped the last switch of a light bulb’s life. Devastated by the blow, I sought to mend, or if not mend—*gasp*—replace. I stood on top of my bed, did little more than merely touch the light bulb, and it fell into my hand. First I performed the shaking test to see if it would respond with inner scratching indicating that it’s innards were in pieces. Then the blackout test—stare at the top of the light bulb to see if it is darkened from internal combustion. Procedures 1 and 2 passed with flying colors—no dead light bulb here. Procedure 3: screw it back in and try flipping the switch again. After all, it could have just been really loose and shifted loose from its proper connective energy flow. Problem. There are two pointy things poking out of either side at the end of the light bulb and there is no sign of any screwage capability. I’m baffled. But I give the Europeans the benefit of a very large doubt by assuming that the internal workings of the light fixture itself accommodates a screwing gesture for this type of peculiarly pronged piece of work.

It took this Presbyterian two minutes to put the light bulb back in. Eight if you count all the testing and mental processing time. But only then after I decided to look up under the light fixture to see that, while it did not accommodate any sort of screwage, it did in fact have two little holes—the size of those pointy-sticky-outy things on the light bulb—to accommodate proper twistage of the light bulb.

Frustrated, but done.

Flipping the switch…“And God said, ‘Let there be light’!”

So the next time a light bulb joke comes my way from a friend, my first question will be, “Is it a European light bulb or and American light bulb”. And if I really just have to put it in layman’s terms for them, I’ll just tell them, “Well, it’s the difference between threaded or prongy-pokey but it really has to do with the difference between screwage and twistage”.

“How long does it take one Americans to properly replace a European light bulb?”

(Blog disclaimer: And if I must tell my joking light bulb friend about my personal experience with the European light bulb, I will most assuredly leave out the end of the story. I went down stairs and my dear host, Jayme, told me the power had gone out for a few minutes. I stayed quiet and didn’t care to mention that it was probably just under ten minutes of power failure. How did I know that? Because it took me eight minutes to assess the problem, and a good two to properly replace the light bulb and flip the switch again!)


BriannaB said...

welcome to the "other side"...until you have hopped the pond, you can never truly experience all of its (from an American's perspectives) quirks and oddities. welcome to the club, my dear, you are officially a member.

Jayme said...

hillarious - i actually laughed out loud at this one. you should have seen me in the hardware store the first time comparing the sticky-outy things on my burnt bulb to the bulbs available for purchase. i'm afraid i did worse than eight minutes. you may be mensa material.