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Lightning strikes old house, memories


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Lightning recently struck my mom’s old farmhouse up in LaGrange County and, according to my brother P.D., exploded just about everything explodable: The TV dish, Mom’s computer, the telephones, you name it.

It was pretty extensive. For example, I had no idea that toasters could blow up.

Of course, we immediately set about conniving, in our longstanding brotherly fashion.

Mike: Did it get the TV?

P.D.: No. In fact, I’m filling out a form for the insurance company and — wait a minute — yes, yes, it did. The new 50-inch TV Mom just bought that she didn’t know about yet.

Mike: You mean the 60-inch one.

P.D.: Did I say 60? I meant 65.

Mike: Was it one of those new super high-definition ones with the curved screen?

P.D.: As a matter of fact that’s exactly what it was. Cost a fortune, too.

Mike: So that’s two big screen TVs blown to smithereens.

P.D.: Three. There was one in the kitchen, too.

Mike: Wow. Four TVs gone up in smoke. That’s going to be one heck of a settlement.

P.D.: You’d expect so, with five dead TVs.

And then we laughed because — Insurance Company, in case you are reading, take careful note of this — we were joking.

Actually, blown-up TVs are kind of a recurring theme with the Redmond brothers, going back to the summer when I was 13 and P.D. was 11 and Mom left us at home with a storm brewing off to the west.

“Be sure to unplug the TV” were the last words she said as we went out the back door.

Naturally, we ignored her. As we watched “Let’s Make A Deal” the storm got closer and closer. Finally, just as Monty Hall was about to introduce the Big Deal of the Day, we decided we’d better unplug the set. Of course, it involved debate:

Mike: You do it.

P.D.: No, you do it.

Mike: Mom said for you to do it.

P.D.: Did not. She said you should.

Mike: OK, we’ll both do it.

As we walked across the living room and reached for the plug, a bolt of lightning struck the utility pole next to the house. There was a crack, a boom that shook the fillings from three of my teeth, and the tangy scent of ozone everywhere.

Somehow my brother and I had wound up back on the sofa. We’re still not sure if we were thrown or (more likely) we jumped backward the 8 feet, which I believe remains the indoor record for tandem backward synchronized long jumping.

And over on the other wall, the family Zenith, the set that brought us news and sports and “Laugh-In” (along with other examples of high culture) was billowing smoke, dead.

As you can probably imagine, Mom was not pleased.

So not pleased was she, in fact, that not only did she ground us (no big punishment, we never went anywhere anyway) but she refused to buy a new set for six solid months.

But then something interesting happened. Without TV, we spent every night after supper playing Yahtzee and loving it. I still recall those games with fondness and … I’m lying. Come on. I was 13. Six months without TV was sheer torture.

And that is why I just sent my mother a Yahtzee set. And a new toaster.

Mike Redmond is an author, journalist, humorist and speaker. Send comments to letters@dailyjournal.net.

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