You Light Up My Life, Sort Of


a light switches

I would like you to come visit me. However, you will need to know about the light switches. Because what if you need to use the bathroom? See, even if you visit me in the middle of the brightest, sunniest day, you will have a hard time getting to the bathroom without flipping a light switch. The bathroom is sort of through that little door and then a sharp turn past what’s left of the original fireplace, then kind of a U-turn into a narrow corridor that doesn’t have a light of its own. You’ll need to turn on the lights as you go, so there’s enough light spilling down the hallway that you can see where to walk, and how to avoid bumping into the radiator, and where to turn in to — Stop! Stop right there! Turn. Yes, that’s it. That funky little folding door. Yeah. There’s a bathroom in there. But wait. You’ll have to turn on the light before you go in. See those three light switches on the wall adjacent to the door? No, not that one: That’s for the laundry room. No, not that one: That’s for the fan in the shower. Yes, that’s the one! Congratulations! You may now relieve yourself.

See? You need to know about the light switches.

It is unlikely that you will need to use the upstairs bathroom, and you should be grateful, because the light switch situation up there is even more complicated. The light switch on the wall outside the bathroom doesn’t operate the light inside the bathroom. It operates the light on the hallway ceiling. The bathroom light is across the hall from the bathroom. No, not that one. That’s for the fan in the shower. Yes, that’s the one. However, when you open the door and step into the bathroom, you will indeed find another light switch. This one, hidden beside the medicine cabinet, is for people who are already in the bathroom before they realize that they needed to flip the light switch out in the hallway, or they switched the wrong switch, and now they’re standing in the dark with a fan roaring overhead. With a little bit of luck, and perhaps a lot of groping, you can find the light switch in the bathroom: of course, it’s as far from the door as possible.

I also trust you will enjoy hanging out in our kitchen. Please do not be intimidated by the fact that in this normal-sized kitchen, we have eight light switches. Apparently, every quarter-century another electrician arrives to add his own commemorative light switch. At this point in our house’s history, we have a one-light switch, a two-light switch, a switch for two other lights, a three-light switch, a duplicate switch for the same three lights but on the other side of the room, a switch for the lights outside, and a switch that isn’t for any light. It’s for the fan — no, not the fan in the shower. It’s for the fan in the next room. Don’t ask me why. This is New England.

The guestroom? Oh, sorry. There’s actually not a single light switch in there. Go back out into the hallway and flip the light switch at the bottom of the stairs, then you’ll have enough light to find the little reading lamp on the guestroom desk. To turn it on, pull the little chain. If you need more light than this, there’s another lamp across the room, on the piano. Sorry, it doesn’t have a little chain. You have to reach down beside the piano, follow the power cord, find the little dial thingy, and twist it. No, twist it the other way. There you go. Easy, huh?

Next week, I’m offering a special workshop for anyone interested in mastering the light switches in the mudroom. I hope to see you then. Bye for now!

Wait — did you turn out the light?



2 thoughts on “You Light Up My Life, Sort Of

  1. Kittymama

    Last night my co-“stars” and I had arranged to arrive at rehearsal early to run lines. I arrived first and it was so early the stage manager wasn’t even there. Some nice person departing from a day job offered to open the room for me. As the sun sinks in Phoenix, it’s getting genuinely chilly, this week anyway. I was fetching something from the car when she emerged and said she’d turned on the heat, too. I bade her good-night and opened the door to darkness. I was afraid she’d not turned on the lights because the switch was hard to find, but it was right by the door — yay! A couple of hours later we found the thermostat had been set to a raging 66 F. (Probably by someone else on, say, Saturday night.) And it was designer run, and all the designers were getting over the flu. Seeing them all bundled up with their raw, red noses made Sam Shepard seem jolly and life-affirming. But we had light.

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