It’s summer vacation, 7:16 am, and I don’t have to arise at any particular time. I think very carefully before saying anything to my wife.
“It’s beautiful out there,” she says, looking out over the ocean, not waiting for an answer. “And you can write before your day starts.”
“Urgghhh…” I reply.
I didn’t set the alarm, but no matter. It never wakes me—that’s Karin’s job. And here she is once again, up before anyone else, ready to go. She’s making the bed with me still in it. Karin has plenty to do today, as always, and thinks it’s time for ALL of us to be up-and-at-it.
But… I wonder. If I rolled over and played dead, would she just pull the covers over the lump-that-is-her-husband and call it good.
Maybe that’s how Rip-Van-Winkle got his start.
I forget who said it, but I agree with the sentiment that there are two things I find difficult to do each day—going to bed and getting up. Worse yet, I’ve shared space for years with people whose bodies operate in a different time zone.
My mother was a morning person. She’d appear in the bedroom my brother and I shared, flip on the florescent lights above my top bunk, and announce her presence. “Rise and shine!” she’d exclaim. “ISN’T IT A GREAT DAY TO BE ALIVE?”
Ugghhh, I’d think, but kept quiet, hoping to be left alone.
It didn’t work. She’d peel off the covers, and launch into an a cappella version of “Oh What a Beautiful Morning.” What she lacked in tonality she made up for with pure gusto. Still, I looked forward to that day, as an adult, when I could awake and not sing the backup.
It’s yet to happen because everything is still coming my way.
In college, she’d call at dawn to say hello, and every April 22nd, Mom called at Oh-Dark-Thirty to be the first one to sing “Happy Birthday.” She once explained, to my groggy roommate, that she’d been the first to sing to me on day one, after FIVE DAYS OF HARD LABOR. So, if SHE could be up at all hours with a song in her heart, so could all of us.
It was sunrise sadism.
Yes, dawn is a beautiful time of day, but frankly, I’d rather wait and catch the movie.
Mom’s gone, and she passed the baton to my wife. Karin’s approach is a bit different, but the effect much the same. It’s a call to action.
“Do you want to get up?”
For those of you who’ve yet to get married, let me clue you in. This is a rhetorical question and not a Gallup poll. It’s one of those situations where the person asking ALREADY HAS THE CORRECT ANSWER IN MIND, and YOU’RE EXPECETED TO PROVIDE IT TO PASS A LOYALTY/INTELLIGENCE TEST.
So if you need Cliff notes here, the correct answer is “yes.” Bonus points if you can muster a smile.
Or suppress a grimace.
Sunday mornings pose a particularly tricky test of my resolve. Lately, our minister has taken to asking a simple but dangerous question:
“Do you remember…
1. The moment when you first realized you were coming to church, and
2. What you were thinking?”
Actually, I do.
1. It’s often when an elbow makes direct contact with my spine, and
2. I think to myself that if the Aelmighty truly intended for us to make Sunday a day of rest, we’d all sleep ‘till noon.
But since God already knows this, I take the 5th and remain silent.
No, instead I do what I’ve always done on the Sabbath; accompany the alpha female in my life to church. I’m usually glad I that went, since I’m there with good friends. But waking up and getting there… now that’s another story. Benjamin Franklin said: “Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.” BUT HE DIDN’T SAY THAT YOU’D LIKE THE PROCESS.
Yes, the get-up early-set holds sway in my world. So six out of seven days, I’m poked, prodded and pestered into consciousness. But, oddly, Saturdays are different. This is the day that I DO wake up without prompting. Why? It’s the promise of freedom—a day that belongs to me. Stranger still… this also is the day that Karin hopes to rest.
This is an unfortunate combination.
Saturdays… the ONE day Karin can sleep in, and woe be to thee that gets in the way. Alas, it’s the rare weekend she’s able to sleep past 7 am. One of three things always happens.
First off, the dogs know it’s time to take their morning walk. They’ll be dashing about the house, upsetting the cats. The cats freak out and knock stuff off the shelves. Ah, there’s nothing like the sound of freshly-pulverized porcelain in the morning to get you going.
But if the cats are out, the dogs go into phase-two-overdrive. One tap-dances with her toenails on the Pergo and the other body-slams our bedroom door, providing all the percussion of a Stomp Concert. Sometimes Karin can sleep through this noise. But then the problem behind door number three arises.
The kids’ alarm clocks sound off.
No, our children don’t get up early on Saturdays. Sometimes they’re not even home. BUT THEIR ALARM CLOCKS STILL GO OFF. This sets in motion a series of unfortunate events. Karin will pound lovingly on their doors, or she’ll poke me and command me “GO DEAL WITH ‘YOUR CHILDREN.’” It’s then my job to stumble out of bed and disable the offending device. I press every one of the 125 buttons without effect, so I finally yank its power cord. But in my semi-conscious fog, I’ll often unplug every electronic device in their room before the noise stops. It may take the kids days to reprogram all their gadgets, so this last-ditch move, DOES NOT make me popular person But, as I remind the kids…
“If Momma ain’t happy then NO ONE’S gonna be happy….”
This routine happens with painful regularity despite daily reminders, family meetings, and the occasional friendly death threat. Why? Because the kids stay up late and then sleep through their alarms. Still, I can’t rail against them too much because I am also a night owl. I love to wrap up the day’s unfinished business, tidy up, or wind a clock or two. My favorite end-of-day activity is to read, crack open an old photo album, and then jot down ideas. This is when I get most of my stories written.
Except for this one.
I started it at 7:17 this morning… right after Karin poked me. I watched her grab a pair of binoculars, go to the window of the beach cabin we’re visiting, and proceeded to whale-watch. I fired up my computer, and as is so rarely the case, pounded out the column this morning in one sitting.
So she was right about arising early and getting my work done.
I’d thank her, but I can’t. She’s curled up in her chair, looking so cute, taking a nap.
I wonder… I should poke her and tell her to rise and shine?
Robb has enjoyed writing and performing since he was a child, and many of his earliest performances earned him a special recognition-reserved seating in the principal’s office at Highland Elementary. Since then, in addition to his weekly column on A News Cafe – “Or So it Seems™” – Robb has written news and features for The Bakersfield Californian, appeared on stage as an opening stand-up act in Reno, and his writing has been published in the Funny Times. His short stories have won honorable mention national competition. His screenplay, “One Little Indian,” Was a top-ten finalist in the Writer’s Digest competition. He has two humor books in print, The Doggone Christmas List and The Stupid Minivan. Robb presently lives, writes and teaches in Shasta County, Northern California.