So my wife and I are sitting happily in the kitchen Monday night. It's about 8 o'clock. We've just finished take-out — vermicelli with eggrolls — from Pho Vietnam, which means no dishes to clear. I take the dinner detritus out back to the recycling bins. It's a muggy Memphis night. Low clouds obscure the Perseid meteor shower that's supposed to happen. There's a faint glow in the western sky from a sunset that's now over Tulsa. Summer in Memphis. Steamy as Delta of Venus. Being outside is like being wrapped in warm, moist towels.
Inside the house, the air conditioning is set to "stun." I pour a glass of rosé. We take our designated television chairs, turn on the set, and prepare to watch Ray Donovan on demand. Because "on demand" is how we roll. Then everything goes dark. And quiet. You can hear the scritch-scritch of the dogs walking on the hardwood, as they come to investigate. You can hear my 16-year-old stepson thundering down the stairs.
"What happened?" he asks.
"Power went out," I say. "Will you go out back and see if the house is unplugged?"
He almost falls for it. Not quite. He's getting wise to my tricks.
"Should you go check the breaker box?" my wife says.
"No, first, we check to see if it's just us or the whole neigborhood."
The answer comes quickly. The neighbors are all outside, standing in front of their houses in the dark. One person has called MLGW to report the outage. There's nothing to do but wait.
The first 10 minutes of a power outage are the hardest. You keep thinking it's going to come back on any minute. We sit in the dark, looking at our iPhones (which lend a lovely romantic glow to the living room), checking the outage map, texting. My stepson comes downstairs again, announces that his dad has power and he has homework to do. So off he goes.
"What do we do until bedtime?" my wife wonders.
"We'll just have to pretend we're Amish. Maybe we should light candles and talk to each other, or something radical like that."
And so we did. We sat on the front porch and talked by candlelight and had a lovely time. Lots of folks from the neighborhood were out walking in the dark. We waved. They waved back. Solidarity. We were all Amish for the night. And it was nice.
We went to bed at around 10, because why not? After a little tossing and turning, we even managed to fall asleep in our muggy bedroom. ... Until that magic moment in the middle of the night when the lights, the AC, and Ray Donovan all came on at once and we were no longer Amish.