A shadow sliced the sunlight. The white metal table wobbled as he dropped a sheaf of papers next to my brimming cup of café au lait. “It’s brilliant!” he said. “It’s something only you could write.”
Carefully, I removed my wide-brimmed straw hat and looked into George Clooney’s baby blues. “I’m so glad you liked it,” I said. “I am really looking forward to …”
“Zack’s still not home. I’m going down there.”
George’s eyes faded. The sunshine and the Seine melted into darkness. My husband loomed over me as I tried to transition from Parisian dreams to wakefulness.
“Wha? Huh?” Blearily I gazed at the clock – 1:15 a.m. I’d only been in bed a half hour.
I hate to brag, but I excel at sleeping. It’s one of my true talents. In fact, when filling out résumés and job applications I’ve often wished I could include “sleeps soundly” under skills, but it’s never seemed appropriate.
My family appears to be jealous of my aptitude for slumber. Why else would I be frequently and thoroughly awakened just at the crucial deep-doze moment?
Case in point, last week I expressly informed everyone that I didn’t need to get up at my customary time. I’d filed a story early and wanted to stay in bed until at least 8. At 7, Zack stood next to my bed. “I need you to sign this,” he said. He thrust a pen and a piece of paper at me and turned on the ceiling light.
“Arggh!” I yelled. “Turn it off!” He complied and I blindly scribbled my signature. He may have joined the Marines or enrolled at Harvard, who knows?
I buried my face in my pillow. Minutes later, Sam stood next to me. “I need lunch money.”
I’m pretty sure he needed lunch money last night when I was awake. “Pack a lunch,” I said. I learned the hard way not to write checks when I’m half asleep.
Rolling over I scrunched my pillow into the perfect sleep shape and took a deep breath. Scratch, scratch, scratch. Thor sharpened his claws on the edge of the bed.
“Knock it off!” I yelled.
Thud! Thor sprang from the floor, landing on my hip with the grace of an elephant on stilts. Readers may remember Thor is a bit husky. Have you ever tried to sleep while an 18-pound cat practices his balance skills by prancing up and down the length of your body?
I gave up, got up and went to work, where I spent much of the day muttering about how my family hates my sleep skills. Envy can be so ugly.
Which brings me to Saturday night (actually early Sunday morning). Derek and I had returned from a lovely weekend anniversary celebration. Although our getaway was fun, my slumber talents don’t translate well to hotel beds. I was really looking forward to nestling into my own comfy cocoon.
Zack, 18, had texted earlier and told us he’d be working until 11. At 12:30, he still wasn’t home and didn’t respond to texts or calls. “Go to bed,” Derek said. “He probably just has to work later than he thought. I’ll wait up for him.”
So, I took my husband at his word and quickly sank into a sound slumber. At 1:15, an anxious Derek woke me and informed me he was driving down to the restaurant to make sure Zack was OK.
“He’s not answering his phone,” he explained.
Well, he wasn’t answering his phone a half hour ago when Derek told me not to worry and go to bed. Apparently, 30 minutes makes a big difference in Dad time.
“Why don’t you call the restaurant?” I asked. “He’s probably working till close.”
My husband doesn’t like making non-work-related phone calls. That’s always been my job.
I sighed. “Hand me the phone.”
With eyes half-closed, I dialed the number. Zack answered. He had to work until 2 a.m., and he hadn’t charged his cellphone. Also, he’s a teenager, impervious to parental worry.
Anxiety soothed, Derek slipped into bed and was soon snoring.
I, however, lay awake, staring at the ceiling, vainly trying to recapture my lost dream. Why was I in Paris? What had I written that had so enraptured George Clooney? It was hovering there, just on the edges of sleep. Slowly, I drifted toward that stack of papers, fluttering in the soft breeze floating up from the river. George leaned in to whisper something. His whiskers tickled my nose. “Meow,” he said.
I opened my eyes and in the dim glow of the alarm clock I saw Milo. “Meooow,” he murmured as he tucked his head under my chin.
Thor sighed at my feet. Derek snored beside me. The front door slammed as Zack arrived.
It’s a wonder my sleep skills stay finely honed when my family gives me so little time to practice.