To Change a Light Bulb

Ikea Man with Light BulbMechanical abilities do not run strong in the Lovelace clan. Not in my branch of the family at least. Neither me nor my dad have ever been very good at making and fixing things. Case in point, the homemade picture frame that ripped half the plaster from a wall. Then there was the desk we built, an attractive design that was always a bit wobbly. But when it came to fixing things, I’ve always thought that we were competent enough to change a light bulb. Boy was I wrong.

It started with a trip to Oklahoma. My dad and I would drive up to WinStar Casino in Thackerville, spend the night drinking and gambling, and explore southern Oklahoma along the way back. But just as I left my place to pick him up, the right rear tail light went out in my car. With my tail light out, I was afraid I’d get pulled over, so we stopped at an Auto Zone on our way up north. There I bought a two-pack of incandescent light bulbs, and with my dad’s help, we started undoing the thumb screws in the trunk. Soon we were able to pull the tail light out of its housing, and fit the new bulb into the right slot.

We fixed the problem, and were able to drive all over southern Oklahoma without any problems. Then, right after I dropped my dad off at his house, the tail light went out again. Since the bulb came in a two-pack, I opened up the trunk to change the bulb as soon as I got home. It looked okay, but I switched it around anyway. This worked for a day or two, then it went out again. I opened up the tail light housing, wiggled the bulb into its socket, and fixed it once more.

After a couple of weeks, I concluded that there was a problem with the socket. Neither of the two light bulbs I had would say in the slot. After all, the bulbs weren’t the screw-in kind; they just wedged in there. I tried holding them in with electrical tape, but to no avail. Figuring there was a short in the wiring, I took the car into the shop. They did an electrical diagnostic and found nothing wrong. There was no short in the wiring, no corrosion in the socket, and no problem with either of the two light bulbs. Mystified, they told me to drive the car around till the light went out again, then bring it in for another diagnostic.

I left the shop disappointed. I just wanted my tail light to work, but interestingly enough, it didn’t break again. All my car needed was a professional mechanic’s touch. A few days after I got my car back from the shop, my dad called me up and asked about the tail light. I told him it was working just fine. As it turned out, the problem was “user error”. Somehow, my father and I, with over 35 years of schooling between us, couldn’t change a light bulb.

So how many Lovelaces does it take to change a light bulb? More than two, evidently.

Steve Lovelace

Steve Lovelace is a writer and graphic artist. After graduating Michigan State University in 2004, he taught Spanish in Samoa before moving to Dallas, Texas. He blogs regularly at

You may also like...

1 Response

  1. February 8, 2017

    […] a simple project can turn into a complete fiasco. The project? To frame a flag. My dad had acquired a yellow “Don’t Tread on Me” […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.