This little light of mine




Praise from preschoolers watching The Wiggles? No. This acclaim came from a group of grown men admiring my prized acquisition – a lava lamp. The guys, members of the ROMEO club, get together when their wives attend a monthly book club. Because the group usually dines at a restaurant, we have adopted the label ROMEO: Retired Old Men Eating Out. We consider ourselves reasonably refined, and so had originally selected the name ‘The Gentlemen’s Club,’ until one member pointed out an establishment in North Charleston had already claimed that moniker.

I had purchased the lava lamp for our most recent ROMEO gathering, which assembled at our house. I hid the lamp and did not plan to put it out for display until after my lovely wife, Grace, had left for book club. I was setting out beverages and snacks for the ROMEOs when Grace asked, "What are those?"

"Cheese Doodles."

"You’re going to serve that?" Grace inquired, raising her voice a notch.

"Guys love stuff like this."

"I’m sure they do," Grace continued, her hands now in motion. "But, I don’t want one of them reporting Cheese Doodles were served in our house. The other ladies in the book club might think I purchased them."

"Wait till you see the lava lamp," Aunt Toogie interjected.

"Oh, good heavens," Grace gasped. "A lava lamp! In this house?"

Toogie had seen me hide the lamp. Big mouth, I thought. See if you get any Cheese Doodles!

I fetched the lamp and placed it on the kitchen table, between the beer nuts and Cheese Doodles.

"You’ll see how great it is," I offered, turning it on.

Grace was rubbing her forehead and temples when the doorbell rang. It was the arrival of the first wave of ROMEOs. As they hit the kitchen, their outpouring of adulation was spontaneous and sincere.

"Oh, man, is that great or what?"

"I had one just like it in my dorm room in the 60’s."


"Cheese Doodles, my favorite," grinned one of the guys. "My wife never buys these. I can’t wait to tell her."

Grace gave a faint smile.

"You boys have a good time," she announced as she left for book club, simultaneously shooting me a ‘We’ll talk about this later’ look.

That episode stimulated my thinking. Why is it men like certain things (such as Harley-Davidsons, NASCAR, South of the Border, and lava lamps) that women generally do not? It may be instinctively entwined from the beginning into our DNA helixes. For example, our toddler granddaughter, Betsy, was helping her mother bake cookies. One of the ingredients was molasses. Betsy wanted a taste. Her mother explained she wouldn’t like the taste of molasses until it was mixed with sugar and cinnamon. Betsy insisted and lifted a fingertip of molasses to her mouth. After a scowl and pursing of lips, she announced loudly, "This is for mans!" just as many women might react to the taste of scotch.

Perhaps, however, the Barcalounger barrier dividing the tastes of men and women is not created at conception but is more a product of perception. Let me illustrate. The Daniel Island Garden & Art Tour started this week. This first-class series of events includes homes, gardens, art, cuisine, and holiday activities. It benefits good causes and deserves our support. Grace and I are attending. The programs are also very skillfully publicized. Reading the brochure beckons attendance. Women are particularly allured, picking up on the distinctive details and sensory nuances of fine art, cooking, landscape design and architecture. Men can read the same material and only remember: Hey, beer, wine and eats.

In the same vein, my ROMEO buddies and I might describe my lava lamp as ‘blue, with yellow globby stuff, in a jar kind of thing.’ Presenting it in this fashion isn’t going to entice the better half. Women require more frills and panache to be engaged. But, try this lava lamp promotion on for size: ‘A pyramidal design with steep sloping sides meeting at an apex, suggesting a quixotic quest for perfection. Textured subtle gradations and marked variations of translucent light and shade exude a dramatic, rather Chiaroscuro, effect. Color palettes present a breathtaking mixture of light-spring yellow set awash in a sea of azure-cyan. The total feeling is the best in Art Deco with a wisp of deep perspective and strong compositional unity and Baroque treatments of three-dimensional volumes in space, appearing wind blown but not contrived.’ Now, I’ll bet you a giant bag of Cheese Doodles women would line up and pay to see such a work of art!

Frankly, I’m a little surprised the fine folks at the Garden & Art Tour haven’t called to borrow my treasured lava lamp for one of the displays. Everyone would surely notice this colorful touch. In the mean time, I’ll hold on to it. According to ROMEO club regulations, the most recent meeting host retains the lamp until the following month when it is then entrusted to the succeeding host. I explained to Grace how it is comparable to the Claret Jug passing from winner to winner of The British Open. Grace was not of an ‘Open’ mind; however, and declared firmly the lamp should stay out of view while it resides in our house. When Grace is away, I plug in the lamp. I could gaze for hours. It is tranquil and captivating. Like life, it is fluid and always changing, with ups and downs, yet holding the promise its next kaleidoscopic movement will be a beauty to behold. Or as guys say, it’s really neat. You are welcome to come over if you want to see for yourself. I’d suggest you hurry just in case I receive a call from the Garden & Art Tour.

Daniel Island Publishing

225 Seven Farms Drive
Unit 108
Daniel Island, SC 29492 

Office Number: 843-856-1999
Fax Number: 843-856-8555


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