Our first night on holiday and I was woken from my deep, Côtes du Rhône-fuelled sleep with a start. Bubba was screaming and my wife was shaking me. "Wake up," she hissed, "help me turn on a light." The room was completely dark, I couldn't see a thing, not the bed posts, not the dark outline of the wardrobe, not even my own hand. Bubba had probably lost her dummy (soother), woken to find she couldn't see anything and totally freaked out. I understand. I'd hate to lose my dummy on a dark night.
My wife was trying to turn on her bedside lamp and (apparently) failing miserably. I reached to find mine, sending books and cash to the floor and narrowly avoiding knocking over a glass of water. I took a sip to restore my equanimity and then focused my attention on the light. Damn that Côtes du Rhône, I thought, as my keys crashed down the back of the table.
A man of settled habits, this kind of nighttime scenario stresses me out no end. I ran my hand down the wire, fumbling in vain for the light switch. Must be one of those "slide-block" switches, I thought, finding the bulb and sliding my hand downwards. Nothing. Damn those modern light-makers.
My wife had given up and was now trying to calm Bubba down from across the room. I still couldn't see anything. A thought came to me, if only I could retrieve my phone from our bag it would provide enough light to find the light switch.
In a remarkable exhibition of slightly-wined brainwork I planned the operation. Walk slowly forward until reaching the door (main light switch not an option as it would further wake the baby). Shuffle to the left until reaching the wardrobe. Inch round the wardrobe until positioned directly in front of its centre. Take a few steps back until reaching our bags.
I was just in the process of inching round the wardrobe when the light came on. My wife had resumed her search and found the light switch.
"Thanks for helping," she snapped*, as I stood by the wardrobe stark-naked and blinking like a rabbit in headlights. I said nothing, rescued my keys and got back into bed. A man always knows when his efforts are unappreciated. Ultimately the problem with rural France is that there is no light pollution. On the upside, there is Côtes du Rhône.
* When I mentioned this in the morning after she didn't remember snapping at me. But if you read about the time she effectively accused me of wearing slippers in bed this will not surprise you!
A helping hand, ca. 1910s
3 hours ago