12 August 2009

Flashing Lights


I’m cat-sitting for my pals Wills and Sarah. They’ve got a sweet kitty, Gladys, and a sweet pad in the ‘burg, though all I ever really want from any apartment, at this point, is a tub rather than a miniscule shower stall that I can barely turn around in. I’ve never stayed over with them before, so Sarah gave me a little crash course in how the apartment works. The various TV remotes (one for the tv – “power” to turn on/off, “source” to switch between the other two remotes: iTunes and Roku), the skylight that must stay open or the apartment will explode (close in the case of rain), the air conditioners (set to medium in the bedroom), the coffee maker (fill the water up to the tit). The plants on the deck need watering daily, the ones inside don’t need watering at all, least not while I’m here.

After the tour I left to continue my day, Sarah had to pack, etc. I’d be coming back later that night, after they were gone. And so I did. Night time is a dark time. Especially when you’re going up a staircase that has a light which needs to be switched on by the resident who knows where the light switch is. Darkness is also especially pressing when you first enter an apartment that you’ve never entered in the dark, at night, alone, when a cat might come dashing through the door the moment you open it. You fumble around for a switch in the most logical place it could be; you feel something jutting out from a wall, from within what feels to be a switch-plate. But this switch is no average switch. On the left is one of those big switchy things, sleekly designed so as not to interfere with the smoothness of the wall – slightly raised on one side so you can just caress it on or off (image research reveals that it's called a "rocker"). This turns on the staircase light. On the right side is something you’ve never felt before, in the context of light switches, but you can guess what it is – a dimmer. It’s got this thing you can slide up and down and a horizontal (also sleek) switch beneath it. So like, that’s the main light, right? Wrong!

You’ve no idea what you were turning on and off and dimming and undimming. You recall from more well-lit times there is no main light in the living room, really, so you slowly, carefully make your way to a very small, and what turns out to be very dim, lamp. You look to the kitchen and with this minimal illumination guiding your vision you realize there’s really no light fixture in there either, but you do spot some track lighting in the living area. There MUST be a way to turn on those lights! you think. Your eyeballs search for the kind of wall space that would allow for a light switch, and they light upon the hallway light switch. You turn it on with a feeling of resignation – this may very well be the only light you find during your four day Gladys-sitting stint. Despite your despondence, you persevere in searching open wall space at torso height for more light switches. Aha! You spot another dimmer/switch combo half hidden behind the entertainment center and seize upon it – at last, lights from above!

But your trials are not yet over; the bedroom has yet to be mastered. Through the well lit hall, into the unlit painting studio, to the door of the bedroom. You push it open and feel along the wall beside the door. After finding the buried switch in the living room you’re feeling pretty good about yourself, so you’re pretty sure that when your fingers fondle the familiar dimmer switch, you’re home free. But switching it on and upping the dimmer only leads to a nice breeze on your face: alas, it is but the overhead fan. Your hand continues to work the switch-plate, seeking the other half which must MUST control the light. You feel and feel but all’s it is on that other side is flat, like it’s just filler. Hold on a minute, wait, what’s that tiny not-quite-protrusion at the bottom? Is that a switch?? It is! And voila – now you don’t have to test the breeze to find your way to bed!

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