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?’
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.
QUINN: Morning, sweetie.
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.