Monday, March 26, 2007

Night moves.

Sunday, 3 p.m.

Consort said, “As soon as I finish this email, I’m going to start packing.”

Sunday, 5 p.m.

“Could you supervise the kid’s bath? I need to start packing.”

Sunday, 7 p.m.

“…just as soon as ‘Family Guy’ is over, I’ll pack.”

Sunday 10:30 p.m.

“Have you seen the crossword puzzle?”

Sunday, 11:15 p.m.

I said blearily, “I’m going to sleep in her room. Please come wake me when you’re finished.”, which I think was a very gracious thing to say, seeing as he hadn’t started yet. Were it not for these more restrictive security regulations, I believe he would have been standing in the check-in line this morning rolling up socks and bagging the shaving cream. I slept in Daughter’s room because Consort packs by placing every single clothing item he has on the bed and considering his options. Single-breasted suit, double-breasted suit, button-down collars, spread collar, jeans, short-sleeved casual shirts, long-sleeved casual shirts, sport jackets, casual jackets, pith helmet, scuba gear and the odd tuxedo, all must be added to the sartorial horizontal mural of possibilities. I’ve tried sleeping in a bed upon which he is packing, and inevitably some seven-fold necktie starts taking liberties with me and a dress shoe is found days later tucked inside the duvet.

At two a.m., I awoke and padded into the living room. Consort was watching television and polishing some shoes while whistling.

“Are you packed?’

“Pretty much.”

The distinctive Da-DUNG sound let me know “Law and Order” had just begun.

I whined, “Are you coming to bed?”

“Sure!”, he said brightly, “Just as soon as I polish the belts I’m taking with me.” He thought. “I should probably do my briefcase, as long as I have the polish out.”

I scowled and went to bed.

I believe in respecting - - nay, celebrating the differences between people. I don’t think anyone who has read this blog thinks I want everyone to be exactly like me. For one thing, the emergency rooms have enough traffic as it is. Heck, as a small person, I had my very own copy of “Free to Be You and Me”, and I sang along. Everyone should be exactly who and what they are supposed to be. We’re all different and that’s great.

Except Consort, who is a night person just to annoy me and has to stop. I am irrationally convinced he could sleep at night like normal people if he wanted to. I mean, what possible survival benefit could staying up all night have provided his ancestors? We have no hard outer shell, no sharp teeth or nails and the human’s ability to see in the dark is extremely limited; we’re not evolved to roam at night. Whatever first humanoid who wandered out into the dark to look for something to do should have been eaten before creating offspring, leaving the rest of the population with the salutary lesson of “Dark time is dormant time”.

Consort is a remarkably intelligent man, capable understanding technology concepts of such complexity that I have resorted to throwing dollar bills at him to bribe him to stop talking about them, so why can’t he see how much better it is when he sleeps when it’s dark and polishes briefcases when it’s light?

Over the years, I’ve sent him articles about how watching television or a computer screen can re-awaken a fatigued brain, telling it that it’s daytime. On the advice of another article, I’ve removed all diet sodas from the house. I’ve encouraged the snacking of turkey, for the tryptophan (yet another article). Because he loves me and has a great capacity for ignoring me, he has patiently allowed me my ministrations. For all the change it has created, I might as well have been clipping articles and sending them to the ocean about how being salty affects your driving skills.

From what he tells me, being awake before nine o’clock in the morning is physical painful, his nerves both dulled and almost excrutiatingly acute. He can’t remember the mechanics for putting on his socks but the feeling of air on his open eyes is like daggers dipped in acid. The fact that I am lucid and fast-moving during the daytime adds to his Job-ian trials:

Quinn buzzes into the bedroom and starts opening windows. Sitting on the bed to tie her shoes, she pokes Consort affectionately with her elbow. At least, she thinks it’s Consort. It’s completely hidden under the blankets, but it appears to be about six feet tall.

QUINN: Honey, get up. It’s morning.

The blanket lump makes itself smaller and moans. Quinn prods less affectionately.

QUINN: Get. Up.

CONSORT (In a perfectly normal tone): Okay, I’m awake.

Only, see, he’s not. Since he has perversely insisted he is a night person his entire life, he’s developed strategies. One of them is that he can remain sound asleep and speak lucidly. Answer questions, make jokes, the whole nine yards, but he won’t get out of bed, because he’s still sleeping. I fell for that one for several years.

Quinn leaves the room and comes back with her two strongest weapons, Daughter and Lulabelle the cat. Both are disgruntled.

DAUGHTER: Daddy, Mommy won’t let me do a hairdo.

Lulabelle leaps nimbly on the bed and commences the tapdance of a potentially missed meal.

LULABELLE: WET FOOD!

QUINN: I didn’t say you couldn’t do the hairdo. I just said we don’t have time this morning for you to do five tiny buns all over your head.

DAUGHTER: But I had one done.

QUINN: And it took fifteen minutes. At that rate, how many minutes would the next four buns take?

DAUGHTER: You’re trying to make me do math.

The cat walks across the bed and stands on Consort’s shoulder, bellowing in his ear.

LULABELLE: WET FOOD!

QUINN: Sweetie, please go feed Lulabelle before she eats Daddy’s nose.

Daughter takes Lulabelle to the kitchen, kissing Consort on the cheek.

DAUGHTER: Goodbye, Daddy. See you tonight.

They walk out. A second later, Consort’s eyes snap open. Seeing light, he cringes. He starts clawing at his eyes.

CONSORT: What?

QUINN: Morning, sweetie.

CONSORT: …Morning…?

QUINN: Yes!

CONSORT: Oh, God.

And with that blasphemy, I know he’s finally awake. Then and only then do I perform my celebrated monologue “If only you hadn’t had a Diet Coke/watched television after ten/went on a political website last night and gotten yourself all riled up you’d have gotten enough sleep.” He answers with “I know, I’ll catch up tonight”, because while my delusion is that he’s just one behavior modification away from being a day person, Consort believes that one of these nights the government will add nine extra hours between two and seven a.m.

Just last week, I heard a story on “Marketplace”, a radio show about the business world, about how a group of night people in Denmark is lobbying the business community to respect their different needs. These “B People”, as they describe themselves, make the argument that their work can be just as good as a day person’s work if they are allowed to work from, say, noon until ten in the evening. With an unemployment rate of only four percent, their business leaders are listening and finding ways for these human hamsters to run on their wheels all night long. I just hope their immigration policy is prepared because I know of at least one man who’s going to apply for political amnesty based on day-person persecution.

14 Comments:

Blogger Mel said...

What?! The government will NOT add nine extra hours between two and seven a.m.??! Then what good is government, anyway!?

4:56 PM  
Blogger cathy said...

i know exactly how he feels! that noon to 10pm work day sounds great, maybe i'll move to denmark instead of england.

8:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Having lived my entire life with accusations of laziness and then coming to find out it is a recognized sleep disorder, I hate it when someone tries to tell me that doing this thing or that thing will "fix me".

No, actually, they won't. It's a brain chemistry thing and all you cajoling will do is piss me off.

And yes, there is a societal benefit to having night people around. Someone who can stay up all night to guard can be a distinct advantage.

11:45 PM  
Anonymous The Other Elle said...

Lord. I am SO hubby's long-lost twin sister. I feel his "morning?" pain as I pry my eyelids apart long enough to focus on getting the kids out to the school bus stop.

I don't really come alive until 10 p.m. Hubby's been tucked in bed for two hours, by then. (To be fair, he DOES leave the house for work at 5 a.m., and puts in 12 - 14 hour days...)

Well, it's 2:52 a.m. Guess I will go get another Diet Coke before I read the rest of "my" blogs. Mel, I already read yours a few hours ago. Alphabetical order and all that, dontcha' know.

11:53 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

My husband packs the exact same way! He is also in the technology field so maybe it has something to do with that. He has to mentally dress himself from underwear to pocket square for every day he will be gone and then of course,check the weather for his destination about six different times to make sure it hasn't changed. And shoe polish? My husband leaves it out like it's potpourri.

6:43 AM  
Blogger Quinn Cummings said...

Dear Anonymous Night-Person,
I love the idea that night people were a beneficial member of the clan, keeping watch throughout the night. It explains what they did before "Law and Order" existed.

11:47 AM  
Blogger Heather said...

Is my husband Consort's long lost brother? Packing for a trip has got to be one of the top dramatic moments for married couples. Thanks for the laugh Quinn!

3:36 PM  
Blogger Kyran said...

My husband's nocturn-icity was one of the last theatres of my many control battles. Then I heard him telling someone how even as a little boy, he would stuff towels under his bedroom door so his mama couldn't see the lights were on, and he could stay up all night reading comics. I threw in my own towel at that point.

He just seems to have been born into a different time zone.

3:56 PM  
Blogger Goslyn said...

Oh my gosh - you are actually married to my husband! And I thought I was the only one with a nocturnal mate.

Eesh.

Hilarious.

6:19 PM  
Blogger Jan said...

Oh, you daybies. You with your perky morning personas and your sunshine and your breakfast. Have mercy on us. Mornings are painful for us. PAINFUL. We won't make you have meaningful conversations with us after midnight if you would just PLEASE ignore us until 10:00 a.m. And stop with the pulling up of the shades and the lively morning banter.

(Seriously, I loved this post. But, of course, you are wrong. Night owls rule.)

8:44 PM  
Blogger OHN said...

Night people should emit an odor or something so when dating them we would know this information BEFORE falling into the love trap.

Sadly, we have added yet another night person to the family in the form of our 18 year old son. When he was younger we would punish him for staying up all night (typically watching the History Channel or creating amazing websites etc)...we finally gave up. He is lost to the night people. Thankfully come fall he will be off to college where, if I remember correctly, there is little sleep happening...he will fit right in!!

9:21 AM  
Anonymous Jeff said...

The interior design industry needs to take note here. I would be far more productive (and friendlier)if I were able to work from 2am-10am Dont tell me people dont want $30K antiques in the middle of the night in NYC I dont believe a word! BTW my BF would also be a happier lad with an all Law and Order channel sad to say.

7:01 PM  
Blogger Maya said...

I am neither a morning person nor a night person. I prefer to sleep until at least 9am and I can't stay up past midnight without a long nap and some caffeine. I get a little sleepy around 2:30 in the afternoon as well. Come to think of it, I'm basically cheerful midday betweeen about 10:30 and 2, and then again between 5 and 10 in the evening. People keep telling me I'll sleep less when I'm older, but my 84 year old grandmother also sleeps until about 9:30 am, so I'm not too hopeful. In the meantime, there's chocolate.

10:16 AM  
Blogger Nomes said...

And just because you're up, does NOT mean that you have to throw the cutlery from the dishwasher ALL the way across a kitchen for them to slot into their rightful drawer-fillered homes in the morning - what's with that?

I come from a family of night-owls. My PhD was completed entirely between the hours of 8pm-4am. Then I'd go dancing to expend the pent up physical energy. I hate places without 24hr shops...how are we supposed to get groceries?

The mornings, though admittedly beautiful, ought to be experienced through CHOICE not through OBLIGATION. here's to a law change that'd see some of us working while others enjoy pyjama'd sleep. Ahhhh...the Scands man. They're so coooooool!

3:44 AM  

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