A MARITAL
 BEDTIME STORY

     I was in the family room, watching the late-night news. The kids were asleep, the dayís gastronomic conclusion of milk and cookies was in front of me, and the sports was coming on.
    Life was good.
    Five minutes later, the milk and cookies were gone, the news was over, and it was time for bed.
    I turned off the lights, checked the locks, and headed for the bedroom to survey the scene.
    This night it was clear the lights were out, and my wife was asleep. This meant trouble. I cringed as I opened the door as gently as possible.
    Sure enough, the flash of light from the hallway convinced my awakened wife that an army of murderers was crashing through the door.
    "AAAAAAAHHH," she cried, petrified. "UH, AAH, OH, WHAT, Oh my God! Oh my God!"
    After years of experience, I didnít panic. I let her run her course. "Itís just me," I finally said. "Go back to sleep."
    Not a chance. She was on edge now, looking for ways I could ruin her peaceful slumber.
    It wasnít always this way. When the kids were young and waking up in the middle of the night, the opposite was true. You could drive a freight train through our bedroom and neither one of us would flinch. To be awake meant you could hear the cries from the kids bedroom.
    Faking sleep became an art form. The best actor got the best nightís sleep. It was kind of like the old game of "chicken." Whoever flinched first was the loser. I got to the point where I could go four hours without scratching that itch on my leg.
    As for my wife, I never even knew she was a light sleeper until the kids began sleeping through the night.
    So this particular night was not unlike most post-toddler nights. After scrubbing my teeth with sandpaper and then rinsing under Niagara Falls, I flossed with a chainsaw and then clambered up a twelve foot ladder to relieve my bladder onto a tamborine. Or so it seemed to my grumbling wife, who was now tossing and turning.
    Finally, it was time for me to climb into bed, the culmination of the pre-sleep irritation routine. I tried to magically get under the covers without moving them, as she seemed to expect, but I failed once again.
    By actually lifting the sheet, I apparently let a wisp of air touch her previously snug body. Judging by her groan, I guessed this added at least 7.5 minutes to her get-back-to-sleep time.
    I wasnít finished, though. I was still a little wound up, partly from her scream when I first entered the bedroom, so I could tell I wasnít about to fall asleep anytime soon. And there was only one way for me to wind down.
     I looked over at my poor wife. Sorry, I thought, but what was I to do? I had to read to get to sleep, and to do so I neededÖ..(might as well be a drum rollósame effect on her)Ö.LIGHT.
    As I exploded the nuclear warhead on my side of the bed for a little reading vision, my wife let out her loudest moan of the night. "Youíve got to be kidding," she said, irritably wiggling as far away as possible from my side.
     Never mind Iíve got a light that is so tiny it practically illuminates one letter at a time. Turn it on, and she will say "Youíve got to be kidding."
    After ten minutes or so and about twenty tosses and turns from my wife, I was done. I turned off the light.
    I fell asleep in about, say, twenty seconds. That was a mistake. I clearly needed to suffer a little.
    Thatís why I wasnít surprised to get the big shove five minutes later. Maybe I really was snoring, as she claimed.
    At that point, it might have simply been the irritating noise of my breathing which was keeping her awake.
 

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