Monday: Me and the Mr. getting comfy for the evening at either end of the couch. Me reaching up to turn on the tri-light lamp as dusk gathers and the TV glows.
Me: Huh. Only the middle light is working.
Mr.: That's because the bulb's burning out.
Me: Thanks for explaining that, dear.
Mr.: Do we have another bulb?
Me: I don't think so. I'll get one tomorrow.
Mr: Or we could switch it with the other lamp.
Me: Ah! Smart. Very bright of you!
Neither the Mr. nor I move a muscle. Once we're down, we're not getting up again until it's milk and cookies time. Bed to follow shortly thereafter, and then, well, it's lights out.
Tuesday: Me once again heading for the couch as dusk descends. The Mr. reading out on the porch. I take the opportunity while it's still light out to unscrew the tri-light bulb next to the couch and walk it over to the other tri-light lamp near the fireplace — the one that sits in a corner where we rarely turn it on. I unscrew that bulb and replace it with the one from the burning-out bulb. I walk the apparently fully-functional three-way bulb back to the couch and screw it into the lamp socket. Mission accomplished. I turn the toggle switch.
Me: Huh. Hey, Hon! This bulb doesn't work either! Only the middle light comes on.
I walk back to the seldom-used corner lamp and switch it on. One. Two. Three. All three settings work in exponential brightness.
Me: What the what? (calling to the Mr.) I just switched the tri-light bulbs. The one from the couch lamp works fine over here. It must be the lamp that's broken.
Mr.: I switched them earlier.
Me: Oh. Might have told somebody.
I walk back to the couch lamp and turn the switch. One. Two. Three. The "old" bulb shines with tripartite brilliance.
Me: Wait a sec. Now the burned-out bulb is working fine! I was right! There must be a short in the lamp socket. It must have been shorting out before! (I say in a louder, more urgent voice because a "short" in my mind is an emergency worthy of an overtime-hours call to an electrician.) It's an ELECTRICAL SHORT!
Mr.: There's no short. You always think electrical things are shorting out.
Me: Well, then why did it do three settings?
Mr.: Don't know, dear. Electricity is mysterious that way.
I exchange bulbs once again, you know, just to test my theory. This time, I turn on the couch lamp and… One. Two. Three. A trinity of lights!
I walk over to the infrequently-on corner lamp where the burning-out bulb is now screwed in tight. Switch once: Nothing. Switch twice: Illumination! Switch a third time: "POP" and a flash of light, then darkness.
Me: Okay, I think I have the bulbs sorted out now.
Mr.: You're the light of my life, sweetheart.
Me: Oh, stop.
Wednesday: In the clear light of day, we are able to shed some light on the problem.
Me: You know, I bet the way a tri-light works, the lamp doesn't like it when we put a timer on it. Like last weekend when we went out of town.
Mr.: It probably shorts out.
Me: Oh, stop.
Mr.: Just a trick of the light, dear. Just a trick of the light.