Saturday, December 3, 2022 Dec 3, 2022
47° F Dallas, TX

When the Dallas Lights Went Out

How one man coped.
By Matthew Shelley |

You remember that silly storm that rode through Dallas in early fall like a small-town cowboy with nothing to lose? I am sure you do, and I am sure that at some point during that storm you lived without power. You lived in darkness and frustration and maybe even had to warm your baby’s bottles over a fire. You made a fire, then. Bravo.

Well, as a spiritual being having a human experience, I found myself at odds with Dallas when my light switches stopped responding to my touch. It’s a delicate touch, one that got a woman to agree to marry me and a title company to let me have a house. Actually, I don’t know that I touched anyone during that process. Maybe. Anyway, what I am saying is that the power was out, and I immediately stopped functioning.

I like electricity. It is crucial to domestic living, and I like domestic living. Now, I can’t really speak to any other type of living, because that’s not how I live and I try not to think about other people too much, if at all. But I was forced to confront such thoughts. 

I ate only almonds for dinner that first night. It’s okay if you need to take a moment to recover from that revelation. And while I enjoyed getting to use that highly rated camping lantern I’d been dying to try out, I didn’t imagine using it to navigate my backyard in an effort to avoid dog poop. Also, I didn’t realize that I wasn’t supposed to open my refrigerator three times and ruin everything inside. These are lessons all men must learn on their journey to manliness.

I wasn’t completely unprepared, though. I keep dried food, waterproof matches, and drinking water in 5-gallon bottles, in case an enemy’s electromagnetic pulse takes down the grid. I mean, you have to, right? In this particular instance, none of this was necessary, but just know that I am ready when this bloodthirsty world confronts me and my family. I did have to use my laptop’s USB port to give my phone enough juice to maintain the bare minimum of a social media presence. And we had to sleep with a window open to keep some air moving, which forced me to switch between covered and uncovered when the wind started or stopped. 

The point is this: we made it. The next day, after we got home from work, everything came back on, and even though I was beginning to appreciate the quiet, it sure was nice to see what new trailers had come out on iTunes. I heard that a lot of people were without power for up to four days. Damn. I drove through East Dallas on Saturday night, and some of the neighborhoods we passed were still lights out. The darkness made it difficult to drive safely to the bar, but after having been through my own powerless ordeal, I was more capable of suffering the inconvenience with a high chin and a steady hand. I drank in honor of those still without power and tipped a little extra, just in case the kind barman who served me had to return to one of those now rustic domiciles without internet and working refrigerators.

We citizens of Dallas found ourselves immobilized until the men responsible for returning our power fulfilled their duty. Who are these men? Do they dream? What if they decided to bring power back only to their own houses? What if they decided to ransom our weak asses for a taste of that sweet electricity and then only gave us a monthly stipend to meet our now crippling need? This could all happen, and you know it. You probably thought about it while you sat in your den with a candle and gazed into the eyes of your sexual partner, only to realize that you missed the electricity and wished you could just get a couple hours of distraction before you went to bed and returned to work to make sense of this mess we consider a life. 

I am not criticizing, just projecting. I am glad your power is back.