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"That's All, Volts"

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Whenever people admire my thick head of wild and crazy hair and ask how I keep it looking that way, I tell them I stick my tongue in an electrical outlet. That's why I was shocked recently when a fuse blew on what turned out to be a bad hair day.

This time, however, the electrical problem was caused by my wife, Sue, whose hair is much nicer and more manageable than mine, primarily because she irons it. Just so you don't think she puts her head on an ironing board and presses her beautiful tresses the way she presses her beautiful dresses, Sue uses a flatiron to straighten her naturally curly hair.

One morning, Sue was using the flatiron in our bathroom, which is the house's flatiron district, when she blew a fuse. Not only did the lights in the bathroom go out, so did the lights, the clock radio and the ceiling fan in our bedroom, as well as the lights and the ceiling fan in an adjacent bedroom. We tried to restore power by flicking the circuit breakers in the fuse box, but nothing worked.

I didn't want to be kept in the dark any more than I usually am, so I called Shawn, who owns Luminaire Electric in Yaphank, N.Y. Shawn sent over his top man, Jose, who had done excellent work for us before and even showed me how to change a light bulb.

This job was a bit more complicated because it entailed working with wires that, if crossed, could have electrocuted me, though my hair would have looked nice.

"You have to know what you're doing," said Jose, who knew I didn't. He added that even an experienced electrician can get the shock of his life if he isn't careful. That's what happened to a co-worker who was splicing wires.

"I saw him shaking," Jose recalled. "I thought he was joking because he has a good sense of humor and is always kidding around. Then he went backward and fell over, like a piece of wood. He was lying on the floor with his hands and feet sticking up in the air. He looked like a table that was upside down. I said, 'Are you OK?' He was all right, but he was really stunned. Since that day, he doesn't joke around anymore."

Jose wasn't joking when he told me that our problem was potentially hazardous because of faulty wiring. He traced the trouble to the next bedroom, not the bathroom, and said the wires were old. He fixed them in the bathroom and both bedrooms and suggested that we eventually update our entire electrical system.

He also suggested we go easy with the flatiron and the hair dryer.

"They use a lot of power," said Jose, adding that his wife, like Sue, uses a flatiron to straighten her naturally curly hair. "Women spend too much money on their hair," he said.

When I admitted that I sometimes use a hair dryer, Jose said, "My father-in-law uses one, too. I always say to him, 'You mean you can't even go out without blow-drying your hair?' He says no. I don't understand it."

Jose, who has a full head of thick brown hair, doesn't use a flatiron or a hair dryer.

"I use glue," he said, removing his cap to show off his spiked hairdo. "It's like a gel but stronger. In the summer, when I sweat, it drips into my eyes. Sometimes I don't even want to have hair."

"Maybe that's the answer to preventing blown fuses," I said.

"Our wives wouldn't like it," Jose replied. "That's why the electric bill is so high."

"Tell me about it," I said. "It's enough to make your hair stand on end."

Stamford Advocate columnist Jerry Zezima is the author of "Leave It to Boomer." Visit his blog at www.jerryzezima.blogspot.com. Email: JerryZ111@optonline.net.

Copyright 2011 by Jerry Zezima