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The other night I had a Skype date with my marvelous fella, and by the time we had finished our conversation it was 12:30 pm my time and everyone was in bed. No big deal, I thought. All I had to do was turn the lights off in the living room. Simple enough. I put away the computer, and find the switch that I think corresponds to the runners on the ceiling (they have lots of cool lighting in this apartment). I press it. They dim, but do not turn off. Thinking perhaps that I have to turn off some source of light, I press on all the buttons on the lighting panel, to no avail. Lights are flickering in the living room, the dining room, lamps and runners, but the ones that I have dimmed will not turn off. I begin to get concerned, because I don’t want to go to bed leaving the lights on. It would be rude, but also it’s not culturally acceptable—in my experience in Italy, at least—to leave lights on in a room if nobody is in it. They are great energy conservers in that way, and of course I didn’t want to seem disrespectful to my infinitely generous hosts. I try all the switches again, nervous that they might even wake up since each time I flip a switch, the click is quite loud, and I have flipped many. From the outside, it may have looked like the apartment’s inhabitants were trying to put on a disco, but only with normal lights instead of colored ones or a disco ball. I tried double clicking, which just turned things on and off. I tried dimming and clicking fast, but nothing worked. Finally defeated, I found a piece of paper and wrote them a note that I was so sorry, but I couldn’t figure out how to turn the lights off and that I would like to learn in the morning. I apologized again, and hoped that nobody would be mad. The next morning I woke up and the lights were out. I asked the housekeeper if she had turned them off and she said no. Maddalena found my note hilarious, and admitted that the lights were quite difficult to organize. The dad, the earliest riser in the family, had turned them off in the morning. I guess the trick is to click twice, but I still have had little luck in this endeavor. Let’s just hope that, in the remaining evenings I have here, I go to bed before the last person does and will therefore not have to worry myself over the lights…

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