Thursday, January 7, 2010

Midnight Confessions

The door bell has been ringing since 1978. Not constantly, not consistently, but ringing, usually sometime between 2:00 and 4:00 AM. Late at night. It’s the ding-dong ring, so I know to check the front door. Usually, since I have been chimed out of my sleep, I rub my eyes, look at the clock, and then wait. If it really rang, the ringer will surely ring again. Right? So I wait and wonder. But it is a challenge, since my brain-state is at some wacky wave length that implores, “go back to sleep.” Sometimes, so I can eventually go back to sleep, I get up out of bed and prowl the house, peeking behind doors, looking in closets, checking in the tub. Hide and go seek. What would I do if someone was there?! And why would they ring the bell before they came inside? Hmm…There is little logic to all this…and fewer viable explanations… But I can’t sleep until I get the all clear signal. So far, so clear. And as I drift off, I wonder, why do I dream this? It’s my brain, so why the adolescent pranks?

Maybe this was some sort of practice, a warm-up to parenthood.
For some time I had teenage boys. They go out: When will they come in? There has been a designated time established to return, but we seem to only use it as a guideline, not a deadline. So I half-sleep, drifting restlessly, like an ancient ancestor, peering into the dark over the dying coals; waiting for the creatures of the night. I listen for the car turning off the main road. I listen for the turn of the knob. I don’t want to hear the doorbell; no, no, no! No neighbor, no officer, no, no, no! Those bell-ringers only appear to tell me to come get them (trouble) or where they are (bigger trouble.) Thinking back I wonder if I really slept at all…
Then there was a period of time when ex-boyfriends or ex-husbands would occasionally show up. (OK, I didn’t choose wisely…) Usually these sad-sacks, these beer goggled rear view mirror-ed looking late night lotharios wanted a do-over with their ex, my femme de soir. Not a pleasant moment at any time of day, but especially vexing in the wee hours. Rules of deportment, it seems, change after mid-night. After mid-night, we let it all hang out…

Speaking of wee hours…there is a dance that is done, in more recent years, only after midnight. The tinkle-dance dance (is that onomatopee-ah?), the shuffle little boys do when they have waited too long, might be the antecedent. This dance is done with eyes closed, goose-bumpy skin, and bare feet. The ruiner of reverie. It is a sliding shamble, running a gauntlet of dropped and abandoned items; shoes, belts, books, etc., the human detritus of the waking hours. Heaven forbid someone has altered the course, moved a chair.
Poor, poor, pinky toe!
Yes, gone are the days of sweet slumber.
Welcome sweat slumber,
Grinding teeth,
Thrashing in a bed with uncompromising pillows.
Dreams that jump-start anxiety,
PMs that come from a bottle.
Do not ring my midnight bell
I care not what you have to sell,
Please wake me only if you bear
The elixir that might take me there.
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