On the average night, after eleven PM, my bedroom may be the noisiest place in the Western Hemisphere. I could be exaggerating, but I doubt it. And before you get any ideas, you should be forewarned that although I've been married for only a few years, it's not that kind of noise.
I'm talking about deep sleep noises. The huffing, puffing, snoring and sighing of slumber. It makes me absolutely insane, and yet somehow I seem to have arranged to be at the absolute epicenter of noise central when I try to drift off to Dreamland.
Growing up, I had my own bedroom, which spoiled me for sleeping in the same room with anyone else. I used to look forward to trips with the family until we all bedded down for the night. My parents and my sister and I, all in one room, split between two beds. You may be able to spot the problem here. Not only another person in the room - but three others. And worse - someone else in my bed with me!
The sharing of a room was bad enough, but the sharing of a bed was absolute torture for me. I just couldn't do it without major hassle. I would toss and turn and lie awake staring at the ceiling until my mother told me to knock it off and go to sleep, but that was easier said than done. All those people. In one room. All that rhythmic breathing. And the inability to spread out and take up the whole bed. That's too many factors for me to deal with. Selfish? Perhaps. But it still drove me crazy.
People make a lot of noise when they sleep and I have this thing about rhythmic sounds. I can fall asleep watching TV or listening to the radio - in fact, if I have to go to sleep and I'm all alone in the house, I have to have the radio on because the quiet freaks me out too much. I know, I know. When someone's there I go bonkers because of their personal noise. But if I'm completely alone, I'm also nuts. It occurs to me that it's possible that I'm just insane no matter how you split the hairs, but I'll forgo that discussion right now in favor of the tangent I'm on, thank you very much.
It's the rhythmic thing that bothers me. In spite of myself, I'll lay there in bed, staring into the dark, anticipating the next gurgle, whistle or ripping snore. And when it comes I'll cringe and want to kick the noisemaker in the head. There's just something about the repetitive nature of the whole business that drives me right off my broom.
So of course it fits that I married a snorer. Fortunately he's an intermittent snorer, which means that he only snores under precise conditions, and not every night. Those conditions include when he's sleeping on his back or is really overtired (so he's sleeping really heavily). On the unfortunate side - he likes to sleep on his back a lot and is often overtired. So while it's not every night, it's often enough.
It might not be so bad but for the type of snoring he does. Often he'll be out cold, sawing logs with the best of them and then he'll take this tremendous inward breath… and hold it. Just… stop. And then, as he's holding it, he'll start letting out just a little at a time, the way kids do when they've held their breath for a candy bar in the supermarket and won't breathe, even though they really need to. And it sort of sounds like squeaking and it sort of sounds like a clicking noise in the bottom of his throat and he sort of sounds like he's going to die right there in my bed which isn't comforting on a lot of different levels and I sort of want to smack him around when he does this at 2 in the morning but mostly I just give him a shove and I hiss, "Breathe, stupid!" under my own breath.
When I'm not playing low-tech resuscitator there are a lot of other fun and games to be had (yes, I just said that there were lots of fun and games to be had in my bedroom. Stop snickering. You're 4). There are a lot of nights when Dave isn't snoring, as I mentioned. He's just lying there peacefully, breathing like a normal human being, no gasping, breath holding or other ailments. These should be lovely, quiet nights of uninterrupted sleep, rest and repose.
But too often, they're not. Because my dog? Rhett? That sweet pup who wants nothing more in the world than to fetch his toy and be loved by everyone? Snores like a maniac.
Yeah, I know. Ironic, isn't it?I have to admit though, when Rhett snores it usually cracks me up no matter what time it is. You see, he generally starts to snore just as he's entering his little doggy dream state. And I have no idea what this dog dreams about, but whatever it is, it's vivid as hell. He starts woofing while he snores sometimes. It's not a bark by a long short, but rather sort of a huffing… woof. In his sleep. Other times, if he's not snoring or woofing, he'll start whining. In his sleep. I've watched him when he's doing this and he's usually twitching away at the same time. He always sounds sort of upset when he's whining like that, so I'll usually wake him up very gently and give him some scratches. I can't imagine what it is that he's dreaming about that gets him so worked up, but whatever it is, when it gets loud I don't really need to be kept awake any more than he needs to be upset.
So now I'm bouncing between keeping my husband breathing and keeping my dog from having bad dreams. Can I sleep yet? Oh no, my friends, because we're not through yet. Into this frenzy of nighttime music, let's throw in some of nature's nocturnal screwballs, shall we? Let's toss in some cats.
We have three to choose from, you know. Riley can most often be found trapping me in some highly twisted contortion in the middle of the night because the damn cat thinks he's human and he thinks our bed belongs to him and we're just visitors. Which is mostly true, now that I think of it. Also? Just for the record? Riley? Snores.
He also whines. He'll stretch out to his full length, which takes up most of the width of our queen sized bed, and as he does it he'll make this whiney, stretching noise - the same kind humans make when they stretch after sleeping for a while. This may be one of the contributing factors to his belief that he is, in fact, a human trapped in a feline body, but for my part, I just find it funny. Unless it's the middle of the night, of course.
Then there's Nora and Melly. Nora doesn't usually sleep with us - 5 in a bed is just too crowded for her finicky tastes and thank God for that. Melly often does sleep on the bed with us, but usually just at the bottom, near Dave's feet. Riley tends to keep his furry ass pretty close to me. I don't know what I did to deserve this honor but I'm sorry for it, whatever it was.
You'd think that this would make for a settled, if not exactly quiet, arrangement. Dave on the left side of the bed. Kristin on the right. Melly at Dave's feet. Riley probably plopped down behind my knees (or across my calves, or on top of my right foot, or sometimes, when I've been especially good, smack between Dave and I, about three inches from our faces). Rhett on the floor on one side of the bed or the other (he switches sides throughout the night). Nora on the guest bed. And it is a settled environment - even a relatively quiet one on good nights.
Until about five in the morning. When Melly remembers that she? Is a kitten. And that she? Hasn't chased anything in about seven hours. And that Nora? Is her favorite thing to chase.
And then all hell breaks loose. Mel's chasing Nora. Nora's growling and hissing and running away. Mel thinks this is amazing good fun. Nora's pissed and jumps on the bed in an unsuccessful attempt to escape her attacker, forgetting completely that her attacker is a cat and therefore quite as agile as she herself is. Melly hides under the bed, plotting. Nora knows this so she growls and whines some more in premature distress. It's about this time that she also realizes that in jumping on the bed, she's excited Riley's interest. Everyone's after her! AARRGGHHH!! Much growling, hissing, biting, crying and whining occurs (and that's just from Dave and I - ka-ching! Thanks! I'll be here all week!).
We wind up kicking everyone out, which does relatively little because all three of the monsters will run down the hall, down the stairs, through the living room and kitchen, back up the stairs like a herd of elephants and right back into the bedroom within about fourteen seconds. After a good deal of hollering at one and all, we succeed in getting everyone separated and calmed down, including ourselves. Everyone quiets down and goes back to sleep.
Except me. Because Dave? Is snoring. And Rhett? Snoring. And Riley is stretched out over my bladder and the kitten has a purr on her like a Harley motor.
Well, you know what they say. No rest for the wicked. Coffee, anyone?
- KNP March 21, 2004