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Lost Journal: What Goes On When the Lights are On?

Jul 152014
 By , July 15, 2014

Lost Journal entry: November 8, 1975 (age 6) – Lights

Earlier this week, Dad questioned my brothers and me at the dinner table. Between bites of my mom’s lasagna, he said: “This morning when I got up to go to work, all the rooms in the house, except the closed bedrooms, had the lights turned on. And it’s not just the wall switches – it’s every light source possible. Even the sheet music lamp on the piano was on!” He paused, and lowered his voice. “Who’s the smart-aleck?”

My oldest brother, Jerry, is away at law school, and he’s a goody-goody anyway. The remaining five brothers all denied it. Jim stays up late a lot, so he seemed like a likely suspect. John’s always in trouble, so he has a permanent spot reserved at the top of any list of household culprits. Bob’s paper route gets him up even earlier than Dad, so he had the opportunity, if not the motive. My 7-year-old brother, Dan, and I are always in bed by 9 o’clock, so we had a pretty good alibi.

The next day, the mood at dinner was darker, because breakfast had again been “lighter.” By yesterday, the electric bill bandit had struck a third time, and Dad was losing patience. Last night’s family meal ended abruptly when John smirkingly suggested that Dad use his skills as an electrical engineer to figure out what was happening.

Later, I had just brushed my teeth and was on my way to bed when I overheard John and Bob talking during the theme song to The Rockford Files. The two of them share a bedroom, so they were fairly sure of each other’s innocence. “I think it’s Jim,” said Bob. “The only thing he says when Dad asks him about it is ‘Nope.’” “Well, whoever it is,” John said, “is a genius. There’s no possible motive, which is driving Dad nuts.”

Yesterday was Friday, so Dad didn’t have to get to bed early. He and Mom decided to sit in the living room as long as it took to flush out the nighttime lamp lighter. At about 3 in the morning, they saw a pair of footie-pajamaed feet coming down the stairs. They called out “Timmy?” but I didn’t answer them. I paused at the bottom of the stairs, and turned on the hallway light. I had just opened the coat closet and reached for the pull chain when Dad put his hands on my shoulders. He sat in the window seat and turned me to face him.

“Timmy,” he said, softly, “do you know who I am?” With a vacant stare, I nodded and said, “Uh-hunh. Dad.” He pointed to his right and continued. “And who’s that?” There was a slight pause and then, “M-m-mom.” Mom was starting to chuckle, but Dad was still all business. “Timothy, why are you turning on all the lights?” My face wrinkled up in confusion as I muttered, “Cuz they were out.”

I heard about all this at breakfast. At first, I didn’t believe it. Then I started to think about all the other things I could do and blame on sleepwalking

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Buy your copy of "Lost Journal - the Book" at Each Lost Journal column is a journal entry written in retrospect. In other words, Mollen chooses a different day from his past, and writes about it as though it were today. The date may be last week, Halloween 1980, or the day he was born (May 4, 1969). Some of you may be asking, “But how would he have been able to write a journal entry on the day he was born?” To you he says: “Lighten up. It’s a humor column.” Mollen is a nationally syndicated columnist and actor, and he is available as a speaker on writing and humor.

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