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
"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
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.