Friday, July 8, 2011

Battle of/for the Bed [or Sleep-time Territorial Acquisition Games]

Come to think of it, during the years I've been with my wife, I have not had an easy time of getting into bed for various and sundry reasons.  This has to be on the order of eighteen years (which is why I'm better off not thinking about it).

When we first got together, I had my first rescue cocker, Joe Cocker Spaniel.  Joey was seriously deranged and more damaged than any four cockers you would meet in real life.  But he was my dog and really sweet (when he wasn't busy being deranged, of course).  He took to Mrs. leftystrat like a fish to water and in one month was her dog.  Part of being her dog was defending her turf, which largely consisted of the bed.  She went to be first and Joey followed, which apparently came with defending the bed from me when I came up later.  I'd get into bed and hear the soft growling, which rapidly ramped up to full-on defensive barking and Doggie Threatening Behavior<tm>.  This had the opposite effect on me, as the eighteen pound furry thing was threatening the guy who literally pulled him from the death line at the shelter.  Whoever had him before I did should have been shot.

Since the poor little bugger was abused, I tried to patiently let him know it was me, not a burglar, and that I was not going to hurt anybody.  This, of course, totally failed to make itself apparent to him and he continued to threaten me.  Since he would frequently fail to stop growling, I'd pick him up and move him.  The joke, as usual, was on me, as the dog would then submissively wet the bed.  Most of the time my wife slept on, blissfully unaware of the (most recent) chaos surrounding her.

But I was not going to win, one way or the other, in my largely futile battle to simply get in bed and go to sleep.

Fortunately Marshall, the latest rescue, does not defend the bed - at least in that sense of the phrase.  Marshall has developed a fondness for my pillow, to the extent that he's frequently sleeping on it or next to it when I get into bed.  As I get into bed in the dark, I will usually find this out by discovering that my pillow is a lot more fuzzy than I remembered.

Sarcasm is totally lost on cats and mostly lost on spaniels.  When I ask him if I'm in his way, he wags his tail and puts his head back down on the pillow.  When I tell him to move, bright dog that he is, he gets up and moves to the other side of the pillow (well, technically he has obeyed the command).  So I have to tell him to MOVE - NOW and finally he sets himself up on the shelf at the head of the bed or like an umbrella over my wife's head (yeah, another neurotic rescue cocker).

Sometimes, when he is not parked on my pillow, he is at the foot of the bed.  This is a very bad position to find him in, especially in the dark, which is always.  One should never sit on one's pets.  It's even worse with the cat: when I play sit on him, he still doesn't move.  But the cat is not allowed in the bedroom, as when he decides he's hungry, he starts clawing the bed until my wife feeds him or we play Feline Aviation<tm>.

So there I am, in the dark, almost sitting on the dog, when I tell him to GO LAY DOWN.  He obeys immediately and runs right up to lay on my pillow instead.  Repeat MOVING DOG FROM PILLOW TECHNIQUE (above).


You have to appreciate my point of view: I'm very tired, having had a long day.  I just want to get into bed and go to sleep with no aggravation, territorial disputes, or obnoxious noises (or smells).

And that simply ain't gonna happen.

Because if it isn't a quadruped, it's a biped, namely the wife.  Sometimes she likes to Surprise Clean the bedroom, which usually involves rearranging huge piles of clothes (with the help of a small earthmover she keeps parked by her side of the bed).  Unfortunately the cleaning is usually interrupted by something, if not just her attention deficit disorder, and the piles now exist at the foot of the bed.

Unfortunately the foot of the bed is precisely my entrance point for the bed, which results in me finding the huge piles the hard way; in the dark, with me falling over them or onto the bed.

But I don't want to give the impression that my wife is always cleaning (or cleaning at all) or just putting things in my way for her own amusement (although I never hear the telltale chuckling that would prove it beyond a reasonable doubt).   Most of the time she just passively blocks my entry into the arms of Morpheus.

Some long-term sound guy I know observed that all guitarists twirl in one direction, which is borne out by their cords all being twisted into knots in that direction.  What does this have to do with me getting into bed?  My wife is a twirler.  She twirls around with the sheets (in one direction) and wraps herself up like an adorable little burrito.  This of course makes it more difficult to get into bed, as I have to
  1. locate the sheets or covers
  2. figure out how to obtain some small amount for myself
We tried in earnest to get by this minor impasse using what we thought of as intelligence: we put another sheet on the bed.  My wife trumped intelligence with sleep intelligence: she stole that sheet too and twirled up in it.

When she's not stealing covers, she's taking up the entire bed.  They say data expands to fill available space.  My wife expands to fill up available bed.  If we dumped the queen and went with a king size mattress, she would figure out how to take up most of that.  I would arrive (in the dark) to discover that she had taken up sleeping diagonally.

Last night my dear was sleeping in the middle of the bed, with her legs across my side.   After almost sitting on the dog, I moved to find some space (and kick the dog off my pillow) only to discover that most available space was already taken (in addition to the sheets). 

Have you ever tried to wake up a bulldozer?  It goes like this:

ME:  Honey, you need to move toward your side.
Wife: Umerrrrph...
ME: Honey, you need to move toward your side.
Wife: Umerrrrph...

Apparently there is an involved internal process involved in getting her to do something when she's sleeping.  I don't know what happens but I suspect that there are some internal messengers who write down the missive and begin the long trek to deliver it to my wife.  Eventually they discover her location and deliver the message to her and she's usually quite surprised, not to mention totally confused, by the request.

What feels like ten minutes later, but in reality is only seven minutes, she moves in the proper direction, allowing me to lay in some small space not already occupied by the dog, one of my wife's twenty-seven pillows, or random clothing that mysteriously appears on the bed.  This morning I awoke with a book of matches attached to my buttocks.  I dare not ask.

When obstruction fails (good title for a tv show, no?), there's always Mattress Dancing.  No, it's nowhere near as good as it sounds.  It probably looks like Restless Leg Syndrome (on steriods).   There's much random leg jumping, followed by what I can only describe as some sort of interesting involved internal argument, some twirling, and Random Arm Flinging (I was not born with this nose).

The next issue, which you would know instantly if you were paying attention, is attempting to acquire something with which to cover myself, aka a sheet.  As you will remember, the sheet is wrapped around my bedmate.  After some exploration and further tugging, the messengers manage to reach my wife and she unravels a few layers as a token gesture.

Fully satisfied and completely worn out, I am ready to pass out.   This would normally be a relatively simple effort, if it weren't for the snoring.  Trumpets and drums, construction equipment and small nuclear devices, as well as other sonorous events are marching across the room (and my eardrums).  It's not that I like to wake my wife from her extremely rare slumber (she gave up sleeping for lent about forty years ago), but if I don't get at least four hours per night, I'm no good at my jobs the next day.


[long seconds later]  Mmmmrph.

Golden Silence.

Unfortunately at this point, my wife is agitated and up for the night, which sees her vaulting from the bed to begin her nighttime activities while I sleep.

And she always wants to know why I'm crabby when I get into bed.


  1. Sounds like a typical day in any dog lover's home?

  2. Twin beds. Razor wire concertina.