A Good Explanation
(A Con Ed Customer's Account of Why the Lights Went Out)

Ian Frazier

Somewhere between 1975 and 1978, inclusive. (We haven't gotten around to finding out when it was first published in the New Yorker. We've taken this excerpt from Frazier's short story collection, Dating Your Mom, a book whose title inspires curious glances when checked out from the library.)

Frazier explains the events leading up to the Great New York City Blackout, including buffalo herds, walking catfish, poisonous Mexican spitting mice, and, of course...

9:17 p.m. Con Ed repairmen have just about fixed one power station when suddenly, out of the sewers--hundreds of giant white alligators! (There really is such a thing, and if you don't believe me you can call the Department of Sanitation and ask them whether there is such a thing or not.) The repairmen have to go back into their trucks and wait for the alligators to go away, and this costs precious minutes as station after station loses power.