One of the courses
I teach at the university is a Global Affairs class, and I did a lecture
on the benefits of switching over to LED bulbs. After having blabbed
on for two hours, I left the school thinking to myself, hmmmmm...,
maybe I should switch over to LEDs. So off I swanned to one of the
big electronic stores in Shinjuku. (Support your "neighbourhood"!)
I asked where I
would be able to find this particular kind of bulb and was led to
a very large display case. I took one look at the prices and the next
thing I know, I was lying on the floor blinking up at a sea of clerk-faces
asking me if I was alright.
Are you kidding me?! FORTY BUCKS FOR A LIGHT BULB?! Of course I'm
"But sir, these bulbs will last for 10,000 hours. You might never
have to buy another light bulb again!"
"Bloody right I won't, because I won't be able to afford the
rent, and will have to live in a cardboard box at the station, and
you DON'T NEED BULBS IN A BOX!"
"Really, sir. They pay for themselves very quickly. You'll notice
a big difference in your electricity bill after just one month!"
After I had composed
myself, I asked him to explain all the differences, and my Japanese,
even after 24 years living here, is atrocious, so I really had no
idea what he was so cheerfully nattering on about. I eventually stopped
listening, but kept nodding and pretending like I understood. After
his mini lecture it came time to choose the bulb I wanted. He gestured
to a display of lit-up lights, like he was a car salesman showing
me the latest model Jag.
"Oh no, no,
no, no,no. Sorry, sorry, sorry. This won't do. What the hell colour
is this? This would look faaaaaabulous sparkling out of the Milky
Way, or in a baseball stadium for a night game. In fact, I'm sure
you can probably see this baby from space it's so bright! Look at
me. I am a pasty-faced, middle-aged, gay white man. My people don't
do this kind of lighting. It's harsh. Unflattering. Makes the lines
and dark circles more noticeable. We line our lampshades with pink
silk to make us look more attractive!
You are Asian, with bee-yoooooo-tiful Asian skin that looks good under
ANY kind of light. I wouldn't be able to live with this. It offends
my sensibilities. It hurts my eyes. Don't you have anything warmer?
Softer? Something in a peach or pink tone? SOMETHING THAT WILL TAKES
YEARS OFF MY FACE AND MAKE ME LOOK PRETTY??!!!" He was probably
thinking, "Whoa, dude! These babies are good, but they ain't
magic light bulbs!" But being Japanese, and oh-so-polite and
efficient (I LOVE LIVING HERE!!!), he led me to another display case,
did his car salesman gesture and VOILA! softer and warmer peach-tone
"Oh my heavens",
I purred with tears of joy in my eyes! "These are perfect! Lovely!
See how much BETTER I look?! I'll take them!"
Three hundred dollars
later, I left the store with a teensy-weensy bag and excitedly made
my way home. I immediately went to the ENORMOUS fake Tiffany floor
lamp in the morning room, removed the old incandescent bulbs, screwed
in the LEDS, and turned them on. Total and utter disappointment! Sure,
my skin tones looked marvelous, but they just didn't have that incandescent
look! Instead of a gorgeous, floral glow shining out filling the room,
there were three spots of light, and the rest of the shade was dark,
dead patches. Oh well, better to have a dark, dead lampshade than
a dark, dead planet. I got used to them after a few days, the electricity
bill is noticeably lower, and if it's for the good of Mother Earth,
then I'll just suck it up and deal!!!