Saturday Single No. 212

Things come in threes, according to the old bit of folk wisdom.

And as I write, I’m tempted to head to Wikipedia or somewhere to explore the origins of the idea that things come in threes. Without checking anywhere else, a couple things come to mind. The first is the presence in Christianity of the Trinity, which made “3” a powerful integer. The second thought is the old “Never light three cigarettes on one match,” which I have heard comes from the tales of World War I trench warfare: The flare of the match as the first American soldier lighted his cigarette would draw the attention of a German rifleman; as the second doughboy lighted his own cigarette, the German would take aim, and if a third soldier used the same match, the German would have time to fire at his flickering target.

True? I dunno. But if things come in threes, something in our house is about to fail.

No, we’re not in crisis mode. We’re not even uncomfortable. But yesterday morning, the fluorescent light fixture in the kitchen went on strike. Thinking it might be the bulbs – though the two in there were relatively new – I went to the local hardware store and bought two new ones. No joy. The fixture itself is out of whack.

Looking at the fixture, I would guess that it’s original to the house, meaning sometime in the late 1940s or so. It possibly could be of early 1960s origin, but still, that’s nearly fifty years. So our landlord, a pleasant fellow named Doug, wasn’t too surprised when I told him of the problem yesterday. He said he’d come by this afternoon to install a new fixture.

But I had to call him again this morning and tell him about the water heater. About noon yesterday, I noticed as I was doing dishes that the water wasn’t as hot as usual. I shrugged and didn’t worry about it. And then while I was doing laundry, I saw a small puddle of water near the base of the water heater. Not good, I thought, and I checked on it several times during the afternoon, and the puddle diminished through the day. Then last evening, as I went to shower, there was no hot water.

We went downstairs. The puddle had grown slightly. We read all the instructions on the front of the heater, decided that we’d be better off leaving things alone that we know nothing about. There was no indication of a gas smell, and the heater does not have a pilot light, so we retreated, concerned but not desperately worried. This morning, I told Doug about the water heater, and he said that he’ll figure it out when he gets here this afternoon.

Neither problem seems to be a crisis. In the kitchen, there is ample light from a fixture over the sink and one above the kitchen table. If we need to go without hot water for another two days, well, we can. I’ve lived up to two months without a water heater. That was in 1977, when I was living in a lake cabin; for shaving, baths and so on, we heated water on the stove, and we got by. We can do the same here.

But I’m kind of waiting for that third thing to happen and wondering as I wait what it’s going to be. And since there’s nothing I can do about it, all I can do is take as advice the title of Boz Scaggs’ tune, “Let It Happen” from 1974’s Slow Dancer. The lyrics are romantic, which is fine, but it’s the matter-of-fact attitude of the title that makes the tune this week’s Saturday Single:

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2 Responses to “Saturday Single No. 212”

  1. Paco Malo says:

    Regarding “three on a match”: I’d heard the story of an enterprising match manufacturer who concocted the superstition himself in the 1920s to sell more matches. Further, there is an interesting pre-code Hollywood film entitled “Three on a Match” from 1932. Sorry, no Nazi snipers, but the full story as set out at Wikipedia is a little more complicated than the one I’ve set out here.

    As for your situation, I would be seeking comfort from two catch phrases from back in our day. 1. Sh** happens. 2. Go with the flow.

    Cool Boz track.

  2. Paco Malo says:

    Correction: …. no German snipers ….

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