THE Lamps, Part 7

by teresalaynebennett

No. It isn’t your imagination. Yes, you DID read in THE Lamps, Part 6 that it was the final installment of the Ugly Lamp Revenge Game that my husband’s family has played since the eighties. And, yes, you DID read that I had exited the game.

Things have changed. The wretched game isn’t over, and I’m still very much at the table – which just proves how supremely naive I can be without even trying very hard.

Almost a year ago, a knock at our front door signaled a package had arrived. Imagine our surprise as we read the address label’s note: “Thank you for your blog on ‘THE Lamps!’ It made our day!”

Since neither of us recognized the sender’s name and it came from Shreveport – where we know absolutely no one – I jumped to the obvious conclusion that my PayAttention! Blog had gone viral. Who knew how many millions were reading it with bated breath?

None, as it turns out. (Here’s an early-in-the-post, pay-attention point: pride usually helps us on our way to very inaccurate conclusions.)

Sneaky Little Sister and her conniving husband had been at it again – reviving The Ugly Lamp Revenge Game they started in 1984. Because the Pistachio Orientals have mysteriously disappeared, they had ferreted out a new ugly lamp to replace them and asked a friend to mail it from Shreveport while he was attending a conference. That friend had asked a coworker, at the same conference, to take it to UPS. (Note: two innocents drawn into this dreadful game.)

You’re just itching to see the monster, aren’t you? Not so fast. This lamp, unlike its five predecessors, bore a tiny, oval, gold-foil label on its underside, proudly proclaiming “Made in China.”

China?

China????

WHAT?!

All of Lamp #6’s predecessors were made in the good ole US of A, where all the players in this silly game reside. Now – NOW – we’ve stooped to involving another country filled with 1.379 billion innocent victims??

Wait a minute: not all of them could be correctly labeled innocent.

There’s China’s Tier 3 ranking in human trafficking issues. So maybe that heinous trade accounts for a very guilty couple million.

And then there’s their longstanding penchant for stealing our copyrighted technology, claiming it as their own, and manufacturing bazillions of whatever they’ve stolen. I’d guess that non-innocent bunch is at least another two million, wouldn’t you?

And let’s not forget the ever-so-lame “instruction” sheets they pack with their crummy digital watches to drive us all nuts. The writers well know they’re omitting two or three critical steps. There’s another couple million decidedly guilty Chinese, in my book. (I’ve lost track of how many of those tissue-paper instruction sheets I’ve torn to bits.)

So we can subtract six million less-than-innocent Chinese, leaving way over a billion (give or take a few million) garden-variety Chinese persons who are completely innocent. So why drag ALL of them into this messy revenge game?? Beats me. Go ask Little Sister and The Conniver.

You’ve been patient, so here you go: Ugly Lamp #6:

lamp base of three black monkeys stacked on top of each other

Three uglier monkeys, you’ll never find = the ugliest monkey lamp in the world.

Yes, some desperate manufacturer in China (with questionable taste) was convinced by some misguided designer (with equally questionable taste) to mass produce this sucker. Can you imagine?

And so now, the game’s afoot – AGAIN. A couple of months later, with equally bald-faced sneakiness, we asked some friends to “help us out” since they’d been planning a visit to Little Sister’s hometown anyway. Good Christian folk that they are, they jumped at the chance to participate in this interminable game of revenge. (They’ll regret that someday.)

I dolled up those three ugly monkeys in a fabulous gift bag with plenty of pastel tissue paper sticking out and an elegant gift tag bearing Little Sister’s and Conniving Brother-in-Law’s names. It looked like a legitimate gift and very, very come-hither. Our friends did the deed, leaving it in The Conniver’s office. (Two more innocents drawn into this dreadful game.)

You may remember from THE Lamps, Part 2 that Little Sister and Conniving Brother-in-Law are really NOT very good sports. They don’t give any of us the satisfaction of admitting that we GOT them. Oh no. They just act as if nothing has happened. Drives me crazy. We’ve been waiting for nine months. Do you think they could even acknowledge receipt of said “gift”? Absolutely not.

By now, I’ve trained you to expect a really, really profound pay-attention point in my rant somewhere. Here you go.

People’s bad habits can affect bunches of other people.

Between the four of us – Hubby, moi, Little Sister, and The Conniver – we have recently embroiled FOUR innocent American bystanders (and who knows how many before Lamp #6?) and about a BILLION innocent Chinese in this fine mess.

Pay attention. When someone like us asks if you’d like to participate in _______ (whatever), you may be joining a rather large crowd, should you decide to participate. Think about it: do you want to join that sort of crowd? Remember the annoying questions your mother used to ask? “Just because ‘everyone else’ is doing it, do you have to, too?” “If Johnny jumps off the Empire State Building, does that mean you must, as well?””

Here’s my next-to-the-last pay-attention tip. When receiving an invitation “to join in the fun” from the likes of us, the wiser option would be to RUN AWAY. Don’t join that kind of crowd, since you’ve usually been amply warned of what will happen if you do.

Should we ask one of you, dear friends, to join in the fun, you, at least, have the option of running away. None of us in Hubby’s family have that luxury. We all have enormous targets painted on our backs. We are all now in the same tenuous position we were in while uneasily awaiting the resurfacing of the Pistachio Orientals a few years ago.

After visiting one another, we check our backseats and trunks as carefully as border patrol agents check for drugs. You can imagine how that bit of paranoid drama delays the start of our hours-long trips home. It slows us down some more when we stop mid-trip, in another fit of paranoia, to check the undercarriage “just to be sure.” We also cast an uneasy and suspicious eye upon unexpected UPS and USPS deliveries, which sort of takes the fun out of package arrivals.

Here’s my final pay attention tip. Listen up. Bad behavior not only corrupts good character, it also takes a good deal of fun out of life, as you’ve seen from this Ugly Lamp saga.

red box with white text: “Bad company corrupts good character.” – I Cor. 15:33

See? I really DON’T  make this stuff up. It’s right there in the New Testament.

© 2018, Teresa Bennett