This story comes in two parts. If it only had one, it would be eye-openingly amazing. But it has two. Making it… more eye-openingly amazing.
We bought a 1910 “Craftsman Bungalow.” (Note: 1910 is old in California, where restaurants routinely post signs saying, “A Tradition Since 1997.”)
When we took possession, the house was in extremely bad shape. It took a year to restore it, at a cost greater than its original purchase price. (Our architect said instead of fixing it, we could knock it down for a hundred dollars. There were times when we wondered why we hadn’t.)
Anyway, early on, as workers cleared out extraneous debris, they found, in our garage, something that was once a decorative feature of the house.
It was a two-bulb chandelier, with two-tone colored glass shades, a brass chain screwed to a rectangular plate that, when in place, was affixed to the ceiling.
It was beautiful. It was stylistically appropriate. And it was ours.
It turns out it was also reminiscent of a fixture Dr. M recalled from the house she had lived in as a child, growing up in Chicago. A call to her mother revealed that that chandelier was available to us if we wanted it. And we did.
When it arrived, we gently removed it from its carefully wrapped packaging, and we looked at it.
It was a five-bulb chandelier, with two-tone colored glass shades, a brass chain…
Let’s stop pussyfooting around.
It was an exact match to the fixture that was recovered from our garage.
Can you imagine our reaction? Twins separated at birth, reunited in our house? Even now, a stunned “Oooooh” is the best I can venture.
Today, both fixtures look down proudly onto our living room. You would never know they were “strangers” brightening houses two thousand miles apart, their fortuitous connection sewn by someone familiar with them both, although not – until now – at the same time.
But wait! That is not where this ends.
Hear the more amazing “Part Two.”
Dr. M is hosting a large dinner party, feting a visiting colleague. The dining room table is set, the house meticulously prepared. The place looks beautiful.
Except for one thing.
A bulb in the five-light chandelier stubbornly refuses to light up.
I say “stubbornly” (of an inanimate object) from direct personal experience, being, as I am, our home’s official designated “Bulbs Changer.” A “professional assessment” revealed it was not, in reality, a “bulbs problem.” (Placing me effectively off the hook.)
Alternate bulbs had been tried to no illuminating effect. Educated Conclusion: It a “wiring problem.” (Which is not me. I am strictly a “Bulbs Man.”)
It feels bad, strangers entering your house and the first thing they see is a less than fully functioning chandelier. The effect is somehow pathetic.
“Ohhh, they can only afford four bulbs.”
Going from pathetic to grandiose, it was like the Mona Lisa with a chipped tooth.
Being remiss in calling an electrician, we were now relegated to paying the price, the price of being seen as people too lazy to put in a bulb.
Night of the party arrives. Last-minute preparations. Fluff up the pillows. Set out the hors d’oeuvres. The final tasks methodically proceed, when I look up. And what do I see?
Instead of four lights, there were
Five lights, burning brightly from the incredible chandelier!
It was like Chanukah! Without the oil, and the desecration of the temple.
Five lights! Where there had previously been four! How did that happen? The fixture spoke to the wiring and the wiring said “Fine”?
All I know is, when the guests arrived, they got a glowing reception:
Five lights, blazing gloriously from above.
The following morning…
It went straight back to four.
Hey, it was five when we needed it.
To which I can only say,
Our magical fixture had come through in the clutch.
Leaving me only to wonder,
What the heck will it do next?