A Little Self Knowledge

I’ve discovered that I have an inordinate and irrational discomfort about using a bathroom that has a light switch located outside the door.

I’m a guest in the home of a wonderfully gracious colleague, who has generously allowed me to commandeer her guest bedroom while I get oriented and secure living space in Des Moines. (Which has gone almost spookily smoothly – more on that later.) She lives in a lovely little bungalow, that strikes a delightful balance between rustic and modern. The guest room is well appointed, and I have exclusive use of a full bathroom just down the hall.

And I have a minor heart attack every time I go into it.

I’ve been feeling this curious little twinge every time I turned on the light, perhaps a dozen times since I arrived on Sunday. Last night, I finally realized what my problem was. I’m irrationally concerned about someone coming along and turning the light off while I’m using the toilet.

It makes some sense in that it’s possible, and even if my startle response didn’t result in an excretory mess, I’d still have to clean up my business in the dark, or figure out how to get the light back on. It’s irrational in the sense that it happens every time I go into that bathroom, even when I’m in the house alone, or the sun is up and I don’t need to turn the light on at all. Irrespective of the fact that I am 35 years old, I’ve managed to survive car accidents, stomach flus, law school, unemployment and (so far) fatherhood. I should be able to manage not coating the bathroom in urine if the lights go out.

So there you go. If the unexamined life isn’t worth living, mine just got a bit more habitable. Thanks for playing.


  1. When you lose the use of one sense, it’s common that some of the other sense get more attention/focus and seem to sharpen. Normally that could potentially be a good thing, but in this case it may actually be worse given the confined space, hehe.

    That said, while I don’t tend to freak out about it, those “outside of the room” switches are pretty strange to me…

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