A great idea

Great ideas and I do this dance which sometimes is as smooth as a three-step waltz and sometimes as clunky as mashing your partner’s toes with barn boots.


The problem of how to light the candles may have sparked a clunky dance but see what you think.


I was a small-town newspaper editor in need of a special photo for our Christmas issue. This was way before you could buy photos online and way before I had a budget to buy stock photos.


I found some elegant Christmas candles and placed them in a classic formation with a draped fabric behind. Then I set up my camera on a tripod and worked out all the angles.


Everything was going great until it was time to light the candles for the shoot.


I was at the office at 8 pm in a town where all the stores closed at 6 pm. And I didn’t want to drive clear across town to my house to get some matches.


There had to be another solution.


My car was parked 10 steps from my office door. And it had a cigarette lighter in it. I had plenty of paper in a newspaper office.


Time for a great idea.


I settled myself in the front seat of the car, pushed in the lighter, and started rolling a sheet of newspaper into a long tube which ought to ignite when the lighter was glowing red. I mean, that lit cigarettes, didn’t it?


With the tube burning, I could light the extra candle in my pocket, take it back inside, and we were ready to do this Christmas spread.


See what I mean about great ideas?


I had never used the lighter before and I had no idea how long to wait for it to pop out. It did pop out, right?


I leaned down closer to be sure things were cooking around the lighter. At that moment, the plug didn’t just pooch out of its socket, it flew into the back seat.


It zinged past my ear and bounced off the upholstery. For a crazy second, I wondered if I could just light the candle from the little fire that might ignite in the back seat.


But by the time I found the lighter, the red tip had cooled to black.


I held the lighter in one hand, my rolled piece of paper in the other, studying the situation and waiting for another great idea.


It came.


I drove home to get some matches.



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