A Life-like Base Design

By Don Doman

Youíve seen them. They sell for $5.95 on sale in various local stores ($9.95 full price). Theyíre painted black, white, brown, purple and turquoise. Thanks to two connecting sections (much like our own arms) and two pairs of offsetting, matching springs (much like our own muscles), they stretch forward and backwards as well as raise and lower. Theyíre adjustable, desk lamps. Cheap, adjustable, desk lamps. They remind me of life and our daily struggles.

These desk lamps can be clamped to a desk or table edge with a standard issue bolt and plastic clamp. Often, however, the bottom of the desk lamp is fitted into a heavy, weighted, chrome base (optional equipment). With their bolted or weighted bottoms the lamps are adjusted to any height or position within their manufactured lengths. When you have the exact position you want your desk lamp to remain in, you simply finger-tighten the white, plastic knobs at the joints.

The desk lamp arms hold their position for about two or three seconds and then they fade like friends over fifty in the early evening. The section arms sink. They sag. They settle. In response to this unwanted reaction, people calmly re-set the arms and re-tighten the plastic knobs. The results are always the same. The arms never hold. They collapse quicker than a coffee junkieís resolve.

The third time the section arms droop, owners get a little more forceful in their preparations. Household tools come into play. The fourth and fifth times the arms fall, creative solutions appear. I have one friend who installed a pulley in the ceiling. He ran a small, window cord from the cantilevered desk lamp arm through the pulley and back down to the desk edge where he drove in a three inch nail and tied-off the cord. He then could untie the cord and adjust the lampís height to his heart content. This method may seem a little convoluted and strange, but my friend is an architect. Enough said.

Sooner or later these lamps appear at garage sales and charity bargain stores. They lie on the shelves in dejected rows. I like to look at the used lamps for telltale signs of frustration. Iíve seen plastic knobs with great chunks taken out of them by pliers and pipe wrenches. Iíve seen rubber bands intricately wound around joints. Iíve seen pieces of erector sets bolted to the arms.

These desk lamps are a great disappointment. They never work. They always fail. I canít imagine anyone buying a new one, much less a used one. These useless, desk lamps are a good example of hope: hope that flies in the face of all logic; hope that drives us on and shatters our lives; hope that is guaranteed to disappoint; but hope, none the less.

In all of my rummaging at garage sales and in bargain stores, Iíve never seen a heavy, weighted chrome base available. Instead of giving them away, people keep the optional chrome bases. The chrome base is the essence of modern day hope.

With a heavy, weighted chrome base at home people can purchase a new desk lamp. They can purchase a used desk lamp. Theyíre prepared. Theyíre prepared for everything but failure and isnít that just like life itself?



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