On most nights, my wife and I get ready for bed around the
same time. We go through our routine, do a little reading, and then turn
off the lights for a blissful night's sleep. Sounds good, but living with
someone is never always that easy. It's all about timing.
On this particular night, I was in the family room, watching
the late night news. As occasionally happens, my wife had gone to bed
earlier, and it was 50-50 whether she was still reading or had turned off
the lights and was sleeping.
I shut off the television and headed for the bedroom. I
looked at the bottom of the closed door and saw that it was dark inside.
She was indeed already asleep.
Let the fireworks begin.
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 axe murderers was crashing through the door.
"AAAAAHHHHH!" she screamed, petrified. "OH MY
GOD, OH MY GOD!"
After years of experience, I didn't panic. I let her run her
course. "It's 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 wasn't 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
and would have to check on the little rascals.
Faking sleep became an art form. The best actor got the best
night's 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
ten minutes without scratching that itch on my leg.
I didn't even know my wife was a light sleeper until the kids
began sleeping through the night.
Things sure change. While the axe murderers only made rare
appearances, the rest of my nightly routine on this particular night was
fairly normal in our post-kid relationship. After scrubbing my teeth with
sandpaper and then rinsing under Niagara Falls, I flossed with a chainsaw
and clambered up a 12 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 minutes to her get-back-to-sleep time.
I wasn't finished, though. I was still a little wound up,
partly from her scream when I first entered the bedroom, so I could tell I
wasn't 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 needed....(might as
well be a drum roll---same effect on her)....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
(besides the scream). "You've got to be kidding," she said,
irritably wiggling as far away as possible from my side.
Never mind I've got a light that is so tiny it practically
illuminates one letter at a time. Turn it on, and she will inevitably say,
"You've 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, 20 seconds. That was a mistake.
I clearly needed to suffer a little.
That's why I wasn't 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.