Interrupted Nights

Ryan Stiles and Colin Mochrie, Whose Line Is It Anyway?

I’ve fallen into the habit of dozing near bedtime in a recliner in front of the TV. Going to bed at 11 feels like giving in to old age, so I try to stay up till 12. I sometimes make it through Stephen Colbert’s opening monologue at 11:35, but often nod off during the sports segment of the local news. An info-mercial wakes me up around 2:30. I stagger back to the bedroom on stiff legs, use the facilities and realize that I’ve become wide awake.

I sit on my bed and stare at the alarm clock. Anxieties and regrets surface as the day’s events parade before my inner eye. I wonder why I’d been so insensitive to Judy, impatient with the cashier at Publix, way too blunt with a woman at church. I link these transgressions with past moments of folly and see a dark, dark pattern running through the course of my life.

A few voices of protest ineffectually interrupt. My wife still likes me. I can’t be all that bad. Most dogs let me pet them. Folks don’t cross the street when they see me approach…

I play solitaire to reroute my thoughts. A novel sits nearby. I read a few chapters and yawn. I consider snapping off the light, but a moment’s pause in activity allows the negativity caravan to start marching again. I turn on the laptop and go to YouTube. Colin Mochrie on Whose Line makes me laugh. The little devils retreat into the shadows and I nod off to the sound of laughter.

I sometimes wake up the next morning with the laptop lying on the bed beside me. It’s turned itself off. My wrist is stiff from holding it in a viewing position during the night. My neck tightens up when I try to turn and flex it. I feel like a hung-over addict as I switch the computer on again. A few more videos will wake me up and lighten my mood before I make an appearance at breakfast. The laptop flickers briefly to life to present the following message: CRITICAL LOW BATTERY.

I plug it in to the charger and trudge off to the bathroom. I wish the outlet near the sink had an attachment that could recharge my brain.

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