Every year for Christmas or his birthday, my partner has asked for that popular contraption that controls electricity with the sound of clapping; its commercial was made famous by a furious looking old lady who couldn’t sleep until she’d turned off her light by hurling herself into a sitting position and fervently clapping. I rolled my eyes at him in disbelief. “We are capable of turning off a lamp or the television without the aid of a clapping device.” He simply smiled, amused by the idea like a child amused by a slinky. This year a well-meaning family member acquiesced to his desire….and now, I can’t turn on the lamp in my bedroom.
On most days my tender hands don’t have the strength to produce the force required to control this reverberating device; objects slip from my non-existent grip; doorknobs laugh when I try to turn them; all the simple things we take for granted evaporate in the wake of old lady RA’s hold on my joints. My hands have their good days and their bad days, but since this new electronic toy found its way into our home, more often than not, I am incapable of emulating the right level of clapping required to turn on my lamp. My tiny hands have never been able to produce an adequate volume while clapping, even in the days before arthritis. For several nights, while my partner was at work, I stood in the darkness of our bedroom, clapping like a madwoman, which resulted in enflamed hands throbbing in the wake of a one person standing ovation.
And so, while my partner has his fun clapping the light on and off, I curse this infuriating invention, while at the same time envying its effectiveness for most of the population. I am unable to appreciate its purpose due to my own shortcomings.
Wait a minute…is that the socket that supplies its vile power….let there be light…
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J.G. Chayko is a writer, actress, and international arthritis advocate who’s been involved in theatre for more than 30 years and has published poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction.