I will miss the incandescent light bulb, its hairless, faceless, chinless head as if from a gelded angel. I will miss that single, glowing synapse. That one bright idea appearing above our heads in the comics, quintessence of the thought balloon. I wouldn’t mind if light bulb jokes died along with it, but I’m sure they’ll persist in some form as long as the obtuseness of other people seems worth a laugh.
There’s no denying the compact fluorescent bulb’s comparative sobriety, though — it’s as blandly utilitarian as a radiator coil or a wastebasket. I’m sure there are those who will miss the radiator coil if electric cars take over, and wastebaskets probably already have their aficionados, but neither comes close to the incandescent light bulb’s fungal charisma. Flea market booths that today specialize in antique glass insulators will someday do a brisk business in burnt-out bulbs. Little girls will stop for a closer look: Daddy, what sort of doll did this come from?
And Daddy will say, its body was hidden from us, we didn’t think about it much. Its limbs were long seams of a greasy midnight that used to be trees, and had been buried halfway to forever in the hearts of mountains. And when we moved the mountains to disinter them, streams and rivers died, the lungs of miners turned black, deadly mercury spread across the earth. This was the dangerous kind of doll. We were happy not to have it around the house.