The other night, Nita called downstairs from her room. "The lights went out up here."
Her father, who doesn't do well with chaos, asked, "What did you do?"
"I moved my bed." Silence, as no one could follow that.
I asked, "Did a light bulb burn out?"
"No, all the lights are out." EG went downstairs and threw every circuit breaker until he found the right one, which of course, was the last one he tried.
The next day, at bedtime, Kiki informed Nita that the house was going to burn down and we were all going to die in our beds, and it was going to be All Her Fault. Nita got hysterical, and then I attempted the maddening chore of finding out exactly what happened the night before to determine if death was imminent, her fault not withstanding.
"Wellllll," Nita drawled, carefully choosing her words, which made me realize that this was going to be an irritatingly long operation. "I moved my bed, and then the circuit breaker went off."
"Okay, and how did your bed make the lights go off?"
"The lights didn't go off until the circuit breaker went off." I glared at her and made a go on movement with my hand. "Wellll, I moved the bed and my lamp was there, and the circuit breaker made it dark. "
"And how did your lamp get involved?"
"It was plugged in."
"To the bed?"
"Nooo, to the wall." She gave me a look like she never realized how darn dumb I really was, and me a Ph.D. candidate, too. "And I moved my bed, and then the lights went out."
"Oh-kay. So the bed touched the lamp?"
"So what type of relationship did the lamp have with the bed?" Honestly.
"The bed didn't touch the lamp."
"Then what did the bed touch?"
"The lamp's cord."
"So, the lamp was plugged in, and the bed touched the cord, and the circuit breaker went off."
"The lamp wasn't plugged all the way in."
"But it was turned on?"
"Okay, so the lamp was plugged in, and when you moved the bed, the lamp jiggled and the lights went out."
"So you can plug the lamp in again and use it again."
"No, because the lamp is plugged in, and every time I try to use it, the circuit breaker goes off."
"Is it plugged partway in? Then just plug it the rest of the way in."
"But what do I do about the burn marks on the outlet?"
At this point I had developed an eye twitch, much like Inspector Dreyfus, Peter Sellers' superior officer in the Pink Panther movies.
"Yes, my brushes must have gotten tangled in the bed and made the burn marks on the wall."
"Brushes?" My voice was now scaled three or four octaves above normal.
"Yes," she sighed, obviously exasperated at how dense I could be. "My drum brushes."
I put the heel of my hand over my right eye and pressed and took a moment. "So your metal drum brushes must have touched the prongs on the plug when they fell off the bed, and since the lamp was plugged in, it threw the circuit breaker?"
"Of course. That's what I've been saying. So am I going to die?"
Well, not in a fire.
So her so tacky that it is wonderful gilt and leopard print lamp is on the kitchen table, making the kitchen look like a seedy bordello until I can replace the plug. EG has gone out and gotten another outlet and will replace the burnt one this afternoon. And Nita has opted to move her bed away from the wall. And the brushes are now downstairs with the drum set.
If I survive this child's teenage years, it will be a miracle.