It’s a weird and wacky world at 3 in the morning.
First, there’s the way your home seems so spooky in the dark. The way the floors creak so loudly when you’re trying to creep out of the bedroom without waking the other one up. After all, it’s not his fault you’re awake at this ungodly hour. That was last night. Tonight, you have your own bladder to blame. Your bladder, and a blankety-blank brain that refuses to rest.
Of course, the dog wants to follow you. She wants in on this action, however weird it may be.
“Hurry up!” you whisper. She pads through the door you’ve opened just a crack. But not before giving one of those dog tag-rattling shakes that threatens to wake the sleeping giant.
“Ssssshhhh! Come on,” you mutter and usher her into the hall.
You flip on a few lights, keeping them low on the dimmer. The book says too much light can trick the brain into thinking it’s daytime. Something about how melatonin levels respond to darkness. You don’t remember. You’re too tired. But, obviously, not too tired to go to sleep. Wacky, indeed.
You let the dog out, knowing that after she does her business, she’ll come inside, fully expecting a hearty breakfast in her bowl. She doesn’t know it’s only 3 o’clock. She doesn’t know why you’re sitting there in the dark, not watching QVC or Twittering on your laptop. The book — titled “Sleep for Success” — says to avoid over-stimulating “light sources.” Instead, the book says, do something relaxing, like read. Because reading in the dark is so relaxing, isn’t it?
So, there you sit, lights low. Meditate. That’s the ticket, you think. Closing your bloodshot eyes, you breathe deeply. In and out ... in and out. You feel your heart slowing down to a relaxed beats-per-minute and think, “I’m getting sleepy … getting … sleep … y.” You embrace the silence.
Suddenly, there’s scratching at the door and the ear-shattering sound of that all-over shake.
You pop up, barely avoiding an old rawhide bone, and let the dog in. As predicted, she bolts to her bowl, then looks to you as if to say, “What the weird and wacky what?!”
The trance is broken. You’re wide-awake again — sleepless and unsuccessful — so you sit back down and stare into space. Ten minutes later, the dog is zonked out on the sofa beside you.
“Now, that just makes me crazy,” you say.
The dog lifts her head and opens one eye.
“How can you nap all day, wake up in the middle of the night, then fall back to sleep without so much as an anxiety attack?”
She blinks slowly, as if to say, “I’ve never given it much thought.”
“It’s a dog’s life, all right,” you continue, unconcerned that conversing in the dark with a dumb animal (no offense, Lucy) could be construed as weird, if not wacky.
“You have no worldly worries. Your biggest concern is where your next meal will come from. Oh, but I know! It’ll come from a $2.70 can of dog food, specially formulated to break up your kidney stones, taking up valuable space in my pantry.”
The dog heaves a sigh. Her eyes fall closed again.
“You’ve got no bills to pay. No mother-in-law in a nursing home. Even when the vet said to lose those extra pounds, all you had to do is spend a little more time at the dog park and cut out snacks. Boom! Five pounds gone. Who does that!??!”
“Have you ever had to meet a deadline in your life? Yeah, yeah. I know we tell you to hurry up and pee, but it’s not as if your entire career depends on it.
“You have no concerns over national security, no fear of failure, and no angst about the rising cost of gas and milk. Do you know how much it costs to keep this castle of yours warm at night?”
She’s snoring now. It’s annoying, but undeniably adorable.
“I want more of what you’ve got, girl,” you sigh, wondering if dogs make melatonin, too.
You watch her for a few minutes, listening to the rhythm of her breathing. You climb onto the couch and cozy up next to her, covering both of you with a blanket. She’s warm, and impossibly soft.
It’s 3:30 in the morning. You’re spooning with your dog in the dark. It’s weird and wacky, all right. But wonderful.