Happy birthday, lava lamp! | MomsCharlotte.com

Tracy Lee Curtis is a humorist, writer and speaker. She writes family humor for the Charlotte Observer. Her column appears each Sunday.
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Happy birthday, lava lamp!

09/15/13 13:34

The subject line in the email from Mom definitely piques my interest: “Celebration!” But when I open it…


How in the world does she know how old her lava lamp is today? Did she buy it on a special occasion? Or was getting it the special occasion? I so remember that thing – my twin sisters and I would sit around in our footie pajamas watching it before we went to bed, daring one another to touch it – one point for touching the glass and two points for the hot base.

Turns out it’s not her lava lamp in particular that turned 50. Although she and Dad did actually get it 50 years ago. As a wedding gift.

Bedtime hypnotic

We continue to email back and forth about the lamp, and she tells me how cool they were to have had one in the ’60s. Red lava on a gold base, going perfectly well with their orange Danish modern couches and pictures of bongo players on the living room walls.

She also shares it was the focal point of their “now famous love-in party.” I’m gonna assume that the love-in party was a gathering of friends who came over to tell them how much they love the lava lamp.

Santa brought one for each of my boys a few years ago. He’s good, because he gave them each a different color that matches their bedrooms perfectly. And every night since then, around dinnertime, I turn them on so that when the boys go to bed the lamps are heated and in full blob mode – the perfect hypnotic to lull those two to sleep.

One annoying thing – where they used to say, “Goodnight, I love you,” now it’s “Don’t forget to turn off my lava lamp!” And I’m not even kidding. It’s every night, without fail, despite the fact that I have never, not ever, forgotten to turn it off.

The hotness factor

I’m sure I passed on this fear. I’m still afraid of that thing. The twins and I would watch it for half an hour and then quickly shut it off, scared to death it would get too hot. I don’t know what happens if you leave it on too long, but we’re all still terrified to find out.

Does it set the furniture below it on fire? Does the glass crack and ooze water and wax? Or does it explode, splattering lava all over your head, melting the skin off your face? We don’t know. So they don’t ever forget to remind me and I don’t ever forget to do it.

I email Mom back and ask her if by any chance she still has her lava lamp.

“Wish I did … it actually lost its goo factor.”

But not its cool factor. Three generations later – we still think it’s groovy.

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