The other day at 9 PM I stepped out on my front porch to smoke the last cheap cigar of the day. Earlier in the day I spent a couple of hours dismantling and storing away all of the Christmas lights and decorations. My house was now dark again.
Apparently the whole neighborhood had the same idea. Not a Christmas light to be seen. It was dark again on the streets. For the most part.
There was frost on the cars. Odd for this early in the evening. I looked up. The sky was crystal clear. I walked around to the side of my house. There’s a spot where I can stand in the shadows to get away from the glare of a couple of street lights. I looked up again. Directly overhead I could see the slight haze of the Milky Way.
Like the bald eagles I see regularly, the Milky Way is something I thought I would never see while living in the Chicago area. Too many street lights.
I live on a dead end street that is barely a couple of hundred yards long. The house lots are big, so there are few homes. The street ends a little over a hundred feet to the west of me, where the edge of the wooded ravine starts.
Forming a T directly in front of my house is another dead end street, barely 100 yards long. Again, few homes down that way. At the intersection, directly in front of my house, is a street light. It lights up my whole front yard and the front of my house. At the end of the street that T’s in front of the house, it’s pitch black. If the homeowners down at the end don’t turn on any lights, you would never know there were houses down there. Only one in the neighborhood feels the need to leave bogey man lights on all night. Luckily, he lives the furthest away from me.
At the end of my dead end street, we’re not so lucky. I’ve been living here for seven years and I hear that a few years before we moved in, the two homeowners at the end of the street petitioned the city to put up a street light. Now the bright orange glow of a sodium vapor light dominates that end of the street. The two original homeowners that insisted on this are long gone. We have to live with it now.
A few months ago I was standing out in the street, at night, enjoying a cigar. The wife came out on the front porch.
“What the hell are you doing?” It’s more of a statement than an actual question.
Well, I was sizing up the light to see if I can take it out with one shot. It’s kind of tricky cause you have to go through the glass first in order to hit the bulb. If nothing else, two shots at the most, but I have to be accurate.
The sound coming from her was a mix of a sigh, ack, ugh…
“And for some reason you think it’s a good idea to stand in the middle of the street, in the middle of the night and blast away at a street light with a shotgun.”
We both hate that light, we both want it dark so we can sit out here at night and not be annoyed…
“So your solution is to blow it away with a shotgun…”
I never said anything about a shotgun, you’re putting words in my mouth.
“You want to kill a street light, what else am I supposed to say?”
Well, it won’t be a shotgun. I have that air rifle that at short ranges has the same initial velocity as a .22. I’d use that. I’m not so stupid as to go blowing off a shotgun in the middle of the night.
“Oh, of course, that’s right, you just want to shoot out street lights.”
Well, yeah, I guess.
“And you think the neighbors won’t have a problem with this?”
I’ve already talked to the neighbors along here, except for the guy that keeps the bogey man lights on all night. Talking to him is a waste of time, he won’t understand.
“And talking to the neighbors about shooting out the street light isn’t a waste of time?”
It winds up they feel the same way I do about the lights. They like the dark too. A couple of them have encouraged me to go through with my plans.
“Remind me to talk to them about never encouraging you in anything you say.”
Besides, trying to hit street lights with just about anything is a time honored tradition. Starts with rocks, then snowballs, baseballs, footballs, just about anything you can throw. Then one day your parents actually agree to your idea of having a bb gun that’s shaped like an M-1 rifle. It was inaccurate as hell, but pretty powerful. The light and pole in the alley behind their house took a beating. So did the neighbors bogey man light on his garage. And then there was the incident with the windshield on the VW bug. I thought the guy was going to beat me to death with the bb gun…
“You have a point, but grownups outgrow these things.”
Yeah, right. Grownup women maybe, but guys never get over the joy of hearing the sound of broken glass. It’s as American as apple pie. Hell, even Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed did it in It’s a Wonderful Life. Walking down the street in the middle of the night, they start throwing rocks through the windows of an abandoned house. The one guy in the neighborhood that catches them in the act tells Jimmy Stewart…. Why don’t ya shut up and kiss her instead of talking her to death.
That’s the best he could do? Breaking glass as an aphrodisiac? Doesn’t get any kinkier than that and that was in 1946.
Years later there was even a song extolling the pleasures of breaking glass.
“I’m going in the house now. Goodbye.”
You’ll appreciate this once it’s done.
“I will not come get you out of jail. Good. Bye.”