The Christmas Lights Doorway Electrocution Incident

One year after Mister Boomer’s father had switched the Christmas tree bulbs from the large, teardrop-shaped glass bulbs to white mini-lights, he found them so satisfactory that he bought more, this time in multi-color strands. The Boomer brothers saw the extra strand of white mini-lights from the previous year and decided they needed to further decorate the home.

Brother Boomer laid out the strand and plugged it in to see if all the tiny white lights were still in working order, the way he had seen his father do it numerous Christmases before. When all the lights were securely in their sockets and lit, the boys looked around for where they could hang them. They chose the doorway arch that led down the hall to the house’s one bathroom and three bedrooms. The problem was, there was no way to secure the lights to the plaster wall. Mister Boomer grabbed the roll of generic transparent tape from the junk drawer. He and Brother Boomer set the strand of lights down, starting at the nearest electrical outlet, and taped the green plastic wires to the inside of the arched doorway with cellophane “Xs” every few bulbs. Even before the boys had finished, some tape was failing its duties. More tape was employed to buttress the gaps. Scotch tape brand would probably have had better adhesion capabilities, but the family wasn’t into buying more expensive brands unless there was a big sale. Three-quarters of a tape roll later, Brother Boomer plugged the lights in and the hall entryway became holiday-ready.

Wanting more pizzazz, Brother Boomer told Mister B to retrieve the clear glass flasher bulb from the tiny bag that came with the lights. In Mister Boomer’s household, all the elements were kept in the original packaging as long as possible. After reading the instructions, Brother Boomer dutifully removed the first bulb closest to the plug and replaced it with the flasher bulb. Now, when the lights were plugged in they flashed on and off every few seconds. Mister Boomer and his brother and sister admired their handiwork by turning the living room lamps off.

When Brother Boomer grew tired of staring at the flashing bulbs, he walked over to the entryway and, waiting for the lights to toggle off, leapt through the doorway before the lights could turn back on. Mister B followed his lead and made the leap. The boys motioned for their sister to join them, but Brother Boomer made the game more interesting by telling their 5-year old sibling that she had to time it right, because if she didn’t make it through before the lights went on, she would be electrocuted. She started sobbing and refused to try as the Boomer brothers laughed in the hallway. Brother Boomer tried to show her it was “safe” by making the leap through back and forth as the lights toggled off, but she was not convinced. He crossed over, grabbed her by the arm and tried to push her through, but Sister Boomer would have none of it, digging her heels into the carpet and screaming. Since Mister B’s parents were out Christmas shopping, pre-teen Brother Boomer was in charge, so her screams were to no avail. Finally, he dropped her arm and leapt back through the lights. This time he pretended to barely make it through and acted like the bulbs singed his hand.

Mister Boomer joined in his fun. The boys, laughing in the hallway the other side of the light field, tried to toss each other through the “killer” lights. When Brother Boomer pushed Mister B into the doorway, he was caught directly in the “beams.” He convulsed like the electrocuted characters he had seen in cartoons and collapsed on the living room floor. “You zapped him!” Sister Boomer said as a motionless Mister B suppressed a giggle. Brother Boomer leapt through and unplugged the lights. He tried to console his little sister and told her, “Don’t tell mom and dad. He’ll be OK in a few minutes. He was just stunned.” Sister Boomer ran over to the doorway and tried to pull the lights down. The cheap tape was already not holding, and half the strand was dangling loose. She stopped when Mister Boomer got back up on his feet, exclaiming, “Whoa, what happened?” Then the boys told Sister Boomer again that the lights were not electrocuting anyone and it was a game. She didn’t believe them. Mister B retaped the lights as best he could with the remaining tape.

When Mister B’s parents returned, the Boomer children were watching TV and the lights flickered on and off in the doorway. “What did you do?” shouted Mister B’s mom, pointing at the lights. “I don;t want you playing around electrical outlets!” “Leave them alone, it’s fine,” chimed in Mister B’s father. Sister Boomer shot the boys a dirty look, but she didn’t tell her parents what had transpired. But for the rest of the night, if the lights were lit, she would not step into the hallway. One of the boys had to unplug them first.

By morning most of the strand was on the floor. The tape wasn’t going to hold, so the boys gave up and took them down. Fifty-plus years later, Mister Boomer’s sister still tells this story of how her brothers had taunted her and tried to electrocute her with Christmas lights. While Brother Boomer still laughs, Mister Boomer is a little more apologetic, but explains to his sister that even back then he could not believe she was so gullible.

Did you and your siblings ever join in any reindeer games of your own, at the expense of your younger sibling, boomers?