Our apartment in Lisbon is fully-furnished, centrally-located, roomy, and beautiful. It has a wraparound balcony with views of the castle and the sea. It has cable TV, a hairdryer, and a free bottle of wine. What it doesn't have is electricity.
"It's not a European vacation unless the lights go out," quips Kellie. It's 1:30 a.m., and we're sitting around the couch soberly discussing whether or not to flip a mysterious switch above the breakers.
"I think we should do it," Kellie declares. "It's the one thing we haven't tried."
"But what if it's the gas? You said it might be the gas!" Ali isn't feeling daring tonight.
It's up to me to break the tie. "I'll bet it's the switch, but we should probably err on the side of caution," I suggest. I don't want to be held responsible if we all get blown up.
Here lie three American girls in a torched apartment, all because one of them voted to flip that switch.
So we do nothing.
When Kellie and I head to the bedroom, a new worry troubles her. "I think I heard gas in the laundry room. We should leave one of these balcony doors ajar, just in case."
"But it's freezing!" I prefer death to braving the January air in my p.j.'s.
"What about a balcony door in the living room?" Kellie suggests. "Ali's sleeping there, and she likes it cold."
Ali may like it cold, but she's not about to increase her chances of being murdered abroad. "What if someone sneaks in here?"
"On the fifth floor?" Kellie wonders. Then she desists: "Never mind, I just thought it wouldn't hurt to take precautions."
Recognizing Kellie's alarm, Ali offers a compromise: "How about the balcony door in the kitchen?" (In case you've been counting, there are about 100 balcony doors in the apartment.) Ali's suggestion is agreed to by all, so Kellie and I go to bed reassured ... until we start detecting noises.
"Did you hear that?" - Kellie
"Yeah ... I'm sure it's nothing." - Me
... 30 minutes later
"Did you hear that?" - Me
"Yup." - Kellie
"What is that?" - Me
"Umm." - Kellie
Sleepiness finally overtakes dread, and we don't wake up until after 10:00 a.m., when the proprietor rings the intercom.
"Someone's here!" Kellie's up in a flash.
We allow the young woman in, she flips the dreaded switch, and electrical power is magically restored.
"See? I knew it was the switch," says Kellie.
"Yeah, but you also said it could be the gas. That freaked me out."
|Standing on the balcony, peering into the kitchen of our Lisbon apartment|