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Monthly Archives: September 2009

Lighter Then Err

We seem to do well when we have to deal with a loss. Even if we lose someone very dear to us, we eventually let go. Then we start recovery and end up just fine. So what is it with freaking disposable lighters?

When grandma dies we say “Well, it was for the best,” bury her and move on. When a plastic lighter stops lighting we say “ Dammit this is dead” then put it back down, ready for the next attempted use. That’s like acknowledging Granny’s passing then propping her up in the kitchen so she can bake more cookies. I am betting the very first disposable lighter ever made is still out there being alternately picked up, cursed and thrown down.

Gods know we have no trouble throwing things away. Half of what you haul into the house goes right back out the door because it is just packaging. Last year’s car, that “old” computer with the “little” 500Gb hard drive, infected needles, perfectly good food from restaurants, even babies- if you give it to an American we will throw it away. Unless it is a .99 disposable lighter.

Why do people have this attachment to lighters?

It can’t be the monetary value. That is 0 in the case of a dead lighter. We dispose of things that are a lot more expensive. Cell phones, for example. We will pay hundreds for them but, when the newer cooler one comes out, the old one is banished from the universe.

Lighters are not unique. Please, you can buy them in packages of ten. They are so not unique that there is endless fighting over which lighter belongs to whom. You can get “designer” lighters with cheap plastic decals of hippy flowers or flaming skulls. However those decals peal off and, sooner or later, the lighter becomes as nondescript as its fellows

It must be sentimental value. “Ah, this was the lighter I used to burn down my ex-boyfriend’s house after I caught him cheating with that bitch.” But things of value are placed on shelves, in cases or in otherwise safe areas where they can be displayed. They are certainly not unceremoniously thrown on tables to be verbally abused by frustrated smokers and candle lovers.

The reasons exist even though they are not obvious. It has a lot to do with not wanting to accept the end of something. The lighter has been a faithful friend, there to light the material to be burned at a second’s notice. People use the lighter for weeks and then, without warning, it stops working.

They desperately flick it, shake it and pound it against their palms to make it work. You can’t die Bic! Well, it did.

It’s an unexpected death and these have more impact. For example, when Uncle Bill takes months to die from brain cancer, we are ready to deal with his death because we knew it was coming. When Cousin Sid is killed in a horrible car wreck on the way to Uncle Bill’s funeral, it has a much greater impact because we did not see it coming. Neither, evidently, did Cousin Sid.

The death of a lighter affects us in much the same way. Oh no! It’s gone! It can’t be! Here come denial, anger, bargaining and pleading but never acceptance. Folks just can’t face life without that lighter. How will they…light things? They can’t call fire down from the skies and most people have electric stoves. It’s inconvenient to light a candle with a stove at any rate.

For some reason, you could buy a truckload of lighters and it will quickly dwindle down to one lighter I still believe that someday we will find a planet full of lighters, pens and socks. Anyway, there is always just one lighter at the crucial moment- on Saturday night when you are too drunk to start a car, let alone drive one.

Can’t they keep an emergency lighter on hand? Perhaps in a locked case with a glass door. That would help keep it from wandering off. We have those in case of fire, why not in case of no fire?

The truth is our world has become so comfortable and functional that people can’t believe something would not work. There are cries of outrage if the cable goes out or the porn site takes a few extra seconds to download “40 Year Old Skanks Trying to Look Barely Legal Vol 23.”

Of course, if something does not maintain its ability to keep our lives perfect, we can always complain, have it fixed or get a replacement. That is not the case with the lighter. There is no one to complain to. It does not “break” as it can’t be repaired. And just try getting Rashad down at the mini mart to replace it.

The lighter dies and people just can’t handle it. The very idea of something not doing what it’s supposed to, let alone having to resolve the issue themselves, overwhelms their brain to the point that it just shuts down.

So those with a need for fire are  hurt and disappointed over again like an Alzheimer’s patient who keeps forgetting  That Girl in High School he is pining over dumped him 63 years ago.

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