There are many reasons to spend your night out of the marital bed. This is one of the things they don't tell you about marriage. We were led to believe that a night on the couch meant the marriage was in trouble, that the only way a husband ended up there was as the result of a horrible fight with his wife.
I'm here to tell you that this just isn't so.
I spent last night nestled in among several stuffed animals on the lower bunk of the Jawa's bunk beds. I did this to escape the boiler room-like quality that my own bed and room had taken on due to S. Bullock's persistent cough. Much earlier in the evening I had decreed that on this night Sandra Bullock would share her bed with the true love of her life, the Jawa, where they would both be free to cough violently and repeatedly. Whatever germs to result would then drift peacefully and harmlessly back down on them, hopefully sparing me of whatever illness they jointly and suddenly became afflicted with yesterday.
So into the bottom bunk I went, my feet smashed up against the footboard, semi-sprawled out across the 24-inch wide mattress.
I slept fitfully and intermittently, and today I can feel the illness creeping into the back of my throat. But it was worth a shot, to sacrifice a night atop my own brand-new pillow top Sealy Posturpedic in the hopes that the entire family would benefit.
And may I say without casting suspicions on the state of my union that this is far from the first time I have retreated to the bottom bunk and/or the living room couch for my rest. Amazingly, despite S. Bullock's refusal to invest in a room air conditioner for the 6 days a year it gets hot in San Francisco, thus leaving our bedroom sweltering and me unable to sleep on those 6 days, I have yet to completely disengage and spend the night downstairs, where it is a solid 15 degrees cooler. I threaten each summer to do this, but never do, instead staying in my own bed, sweating, as a sardonic Bullock searches her brain for new ways to let me know how ridiculous she finds it to point an oscillating fan at your face when you sleep, no matter how uncomfortably hot the room is.
For many years, we struggled with getting the Jawa to remain in his own bed for an unbroken 8 hours. Each night we would put him in the bottom bunk, hoping that the next time we'd see him would be 5 or 6 a.m., only to be suddenly and unpleasantly awakened at 1:30, 2:30, 3:30, each singularly or in a combination of two or three times, by a Jawa bursting into our room then launching himself at top speed into our bed.
Usually, we sent him away, but sometimes, until we caught on to the fact that even a freaked-out Jawa couldn't possibily be having 3 bad dreams per evening, we let him stay in our bed, leaving me with double the normal amount of very sharp arm and leg joints to deal with. Often I would struggle, then give up, leaving the bed and heading out to the large, welcoming couch in the living room, finding the glare of the streetlight preferable to the perpetual fidgeting of a rattled Jawa in my bed.
Sandra Bullock never leaves our bed. It would take much more than a flying Jawa, insomnia or extreme heat to dislodge her. The bed is her retreat, the only place in the house where she allows herself to not work. Unless, of course, she is planning a bar mitzvah four years in advance at 4:00 in the morning instead of sleeping.
As a liberal arts grad, I often find myself battling insomnia. I wake up several times a night, and usually can empty my brain quickly enough to fall back asleep. Sometimes, though, some random thought will pop into my head -- usually cryptic and existential, not the remodeling and party planning thoughts that occasionally plague S. Bullock, causing her own slightly ridiculous insomnia -- leaving me unable to get back to dreamland. The only way to break the spell is to read, and since I am far too considerate to snap on my light at 3 a.m., I usually troop on out to the living room, read for awhile, and then spend the balance of the evening on the couch.
Fortunately, ours is a very comfortable couch, bought during the "nesting" period just prior to the Jawa's birth at Z Gallerie in Seattle. It is enormous, green and 42 inches wide when you remove the pillows.
I have been thinking lately that maybe sleep doesn' t have to be something that occurs in 8-hour blocks. Or 6-hour blocks. I am already someone whose body refuses to make it easy to join the rest of the in-bed-at-11-up-by-7 world. Though I adhere to that schedule, I find that the first two hours of the day are useless, while I spend the best hours of the day trying to sleep.
What if we could take a nap every day, thus taking some of the nighttime pressure off of the sleeping act? A siesta, say, from 1-3 each afternoon, would allow us to stay up a few hours more at night, making life much more productive for the portion of the citizenry with more vampirish rythmns. I wasn't a nap guy until well into my 30s, but now that I've adapted, I find them very refreshing. More so than nighttime sleep, in fact. Just yesterday I logged a life-affirming 45 minutes on the couch as the world blared around me. As a result, it was 12:30 before I hit the bottom bunk, but I feel okay this morning.
Most of you don't have time for a nap, sadly. As discussed in this space recently, most of you are at work. Worse yet, most of you are prisoners to the outdated notion that naps are for lazy people with nothing better to do. Okay, maybe that applies to me, but I'm sure there are people out there for whom a nap would actually increase productivity.
Whatever that means.
I look forward to a return to my marital bed tonight. I will drape one of my countless black t-shirts over the light so as not to bother Sandra Bullock and if I have to cough, will turn my head toward the window.
Completely appropos of nothing, I just remembered that Flush Puppy, the Jawa and I were walking around Japantown Saturday and we saw an old Japanese guy wearing a Sandra Bullock t-shirt. If anyone knows where I can get one of those, please let me know.