A few weeks back I let the world in on a little family secret: My wife, in an alarmingly rapid ascent toward middle-age, has become a fickle, bossy, utterly intolerable sleep meister. As such I have found the best way to deal with Kristin's ever-evolving inner beast is to steer entirely clear of the monster at its most fearsome time of day -- bedtime. I now sleep in the living room on my favorite recliner.
The world's reaction to this news has been rapid and rich. I received a message on Facebook from an old friend and regular reader that was written so early on Sunday morning you'd have thought she snatched a copy as it came off the press!
"Your column today could have been about Joe and me," she confided. "He says both your wife and I are straight-up bedroom bullies."
And that was just the beginning of a flurry of commentary that ranged from empathy for my situation to sympathy for "the devil." (Don't worry, those aren't fighting words. Kristin will actually love that I threw a reference to the Rolling Stones in there!) One reader was so upset that our bedtime parting-of-ways might be a harbinger of marital doom she insisted that I run out immediately to buy a king-sized bed.
"Do it now before your marriage is scarred forever!" she pleaded.
I assured her there was nothing to worry about and that our relationship was just as strange and wonderful as ever.
"No need to worry about my marriage," I told her. "Things would have to get really, really ugly before I'd ditch my live-in cartoonist!"
So I'm still in the La-Z-Boy, resting comfortably in calm assurance that this too shall pass. Even if it doesn't, I've got myself a pretty sweet set-up, what with a roaring fire, a knit afghan over my legs and one or more incredibly comfortable dogs spread across my lap. Furthermore, with the first floor privy just a room away, living with a bladder the size of a thimble has never been easier. I've rarely had it better!
It's interesting, however, that most of the things I love about my present sleeping arrangement collectively conspire to bring about a nightly malady that has proven a bit bothersome. Even the most roaring of fires eventually burns down, so I preemptively wrap my legs in the afghan. And because my dogs ultimately jump onto my lap and create a "sink hole" between my knees in the middle of the afghan, I have to make sure the blanket is actually tucked under my ankles so it doesn't pull away and leave me barefoot.
Snug, toasty and theoretically set for the night, everything works wonderfully until nature calls in the "wee" hours and I must extract myself from this cocoon-like setup. Invariably, I find that the compromised posture of my tucked-in legs has left my left foot completely and totally "asleep." (And I'm talking slap-it-in-the face and stick it with a hatpin asleep!) In order to make it to the bathroom, I have often been reduced to crawling as the numbed-out appendage comes back to life with all of the subtle awakening of a lobster plunged into a kettle of boiling water! All of this drama typically proves too much for the dogs and they flee their hobbled master in fear. Ultimately, I am left shivering in a lonely chair by a burned-out fire. (Perhaps it truly might be time to think about that king-sized bed!)