Column for Sunday, 4/8 - Pakeha


The alarm clock blared. Without conscious thought, an arm shot out from under the covers. My hand slapped the clock into submission. My wife grunted in protest. As brain caught up with arm, thoughts started bubbling through the early morning sleep-sludge that filled my head. The first dilemma of the day: did I whack the alarm button or the snooze button?

Meanwhile, my arm was starting to go numb in the chill air. The damned furnace must've broken down again. I drew my arm into the warm cocoon of sheets and feather comforter. The skin of my arm met up with the skin of my side with an urgent message about temperature differentials. The skin of my side was shocked into a stupor. In fact, my entire body reacted to the news by jettisoning every shred of courage and motivation. My yammering conscience was gagged, hog tied, and packed into a dark corner of my psyche. Going to work was so much less satisfying a proposition than just staying comfortable. I felt the mattress hug me as the bed played accomplice in a conspiracy to keep me warm and horizontal.

Still the question bothered me: was I going to be able to drift away into a disastrously comfortable slumber or was the alarm going to drive a sonic spike through my skull at any moment?

Right on cue, my wife snuggled. Waves of coziness washed over me.

I couldn't stand it any longer. I peeked at the morning from a squint. The suns hadn't risen yet. All was dark. The LEDs of the clock winked at me. Blinking to clear my eyes, I read "5:32".

Cracking my eyelids open had resolved nothing. I still had nine minutes to go to answer my question.

Rather than wait, I disengaged from my wife's clinging form and slipped out from beneath the covers. Stumbling to the bathroom, I wished vaguely that I was the sort of person who could sleep in flannel pajamas.

When I flipped the light switch, the bathroom light seared my retinas. My irises ached trying to block the flood of photons. I reached into the shower stall and twisted a valve.

As I waited for the hot water to arrive, some neuron fired and I remembered to hang a towel within reach of the shower. I wasn't going to be dripping and freezing down the hall this morning, thank god.

The steam and hot water thawed me out, but my brain was still catching up. When I finished my quick shower and turned the water off, I heard a piercing beep. Question answered. I grabbed my towel as I rushed out of the bathroom. My wife was moaning and slapping at the clock. Apologies spilled from me as I rushed to her and killed the foul electronic beast. With a final moan, my lover collapsed on my pillow. Crisis number two solved.

I toweled off the frigid water dripping from me and tried to continue with my routine, failing miserably. I fumbled the toothpaste cap into the sink and could only watch as it rolled down the drain. I knew this was going to happen. For months I had contemplated the stopperless drain, fully expecting to lose something down that yawning black hole. Now it had happened. With a resigned sigh, I stretched my fore-tentacles and poked them into the drain. I tried not think of the generations of toothpaste spit and hawked-up loogies this drain had swallowed. Finally my tactiles identified the plastic cap and my manipulators were able to get a grip. Gingerly retracting the appendages, I pulled the cap out. I rinsed it thoroughly and screwed it back on the tube. Crisis number three solved. Now it was time to get on with the day.