I had no idea how many of my friends were awake at 3 o’clock in the morning. But today when I was roused by the wet kisses of a dog who thought it was cookie time and I couldn’t go back to sleep, I found myself on Facebook.
“What am I doing up?” I asked.
And immediately received answers from friends far and near.
Some verged on the smart-aleck: “Because you’re not sleeping,” explained one. “Because it’s time to get up,” proclaimed another.
My favorite was from my friend Vicki Miller Hansen, who quoted Wilson Mizener. “The amount of sleep required by any one person is five minutes more.”
I really miss Vicki. Now she is sleepless in Seattle. But we had great times together when she lived around the corner from me in north Denton. Now she lives too far for us to get in much trouble together anymore.
Vicki is the one who helped me celebrate my wedding anniversary while we smoked cigars together at a Rangers game sans husbands.
She’s the one who helped me pick spines out of 80 percent of my late husband’s body the time he tripped and slid down a cactus. (She asked him to put a hose in his mouth and sprinkle her lawn.)
We drank wine together at a Peterbilt picnic out of her silver wedding cups. We lost and gained 40 pounds together over the years. But I digress.
I’m not used to being awake at 3 a.m. When I was growing up in Callisburg, my dad rolled up the backyard at dusk and ordered me and my brother to bed at 9 p.m. sharp. I was surprised to learn not all of my friends retired that early and that some of them had even seen the moon.
I was awakened each morning at 6 by my mother’s singing. She favored “My Darling Clementine,” or sometimes “Cool Water.” (All day I faced, the barren waste, without a taste, of water ….)
In between I slept. I had no idea that I would ever lie awake and stare at the fuzz on my ceiling fan for hours. I didn’t know there was a word for that sleepless condition and of course, Facebook had not yet been invented.
When I was rearing the twins, I could fall asleep from exhaustion any time the two of them were quiet, which wasn’t often because they took turns napping so one of them would always be awake to keep me company.
When they were teens, I slept dreamlessly, secure in the knowledge that I had absolutely no control over whatever they were getting into anyway.
During most of mine and Richard’s marriage, he worked the evening shift. I’d go to sleep alone, drift in Slumberland and then awake the next morning with him snoozing beside me. The only time I roused when he came to bed was when I’d played some prank on him.
Like the time I placed my 7-foot-tall, blow-up Gumby under the covers on his side of the bed and sent him screaming out the front door at 1 a.m. He retaliated by replacing the coffee pot in the kitchen one morning with a taxidermied possum with mouse-eaten feet.
But I one-upped him by hanging a life-sized plastic skeleton from the shower head in his bathroom. Those were the fun nights when I could listen to his terrified curses, smile, roll over and be back asleep in seconds.
After he died, the dog and the cats took over the bed, and their snoring wasn’t bothersome. They were not afraid of Gumby, but they didn’t like the possum. I finally sold it in a garage sale.
What fool would purchase a stuffed, footless marsupial, you ask. Well, Richard for one, of course.
But now I have reached that time of life my former editor, Keith Shelton, used to call “too old to die young.” And sleep often eludes me.
I lie there as still as I can because moving annoys Kiefer and he growls at me. Then I get up and try the couch for a while. Sometimes this works and I awake to the distant beeping of the alarm in the bedroom and the yowling of Chloe and Ranger, whose tender ears are throbbing from the noise.
More often though, it’s me and Facebook. I check out the goings-on in Maryland and North Carolina and Baghdad and Southridge. I trade quips with other insomniacs.
I get by with a little help from my wakeful friends.
DONNA FIELDER can be reached at 940-566-6885. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.