McKeithan Column|‘Sleep don’t come easy’… And some stuff about animals, too

Published 5:12 am Friday, July 3, 2009

By Staff
Ray McKeithan
As if I don’t have enough trouble sleeping to begin with …
Lately, there has been a nightly barrage of “incidents” that guarantee a restful night’s sleep isn’t in my future. Recently, we were startled awake — at 2:30 a.m., mind you — by the shrill, goose bump-rendering, nerve-wrenching, Rosanne-like-singing, screech of our smoke detector.
“Hunky husband!” my beautiful wife screamed in her own upper-octave falsetto, “We must have a fire!” (Cue the high-pitched, violin pulses from the shower scene of Psycho.)
“Gosh, I hope so,” I said unaffected while fluffing my pillow, “at least I won’t have to change the batteries.”
I’ll admit that I’m not proud that my first reaction wasn’t to spring into action; but it’s happened SO MANY TIMES! I knew the drill: Spend 15 minutes looking for a battery; 10 minutes for the ladder; a 20 minute trip to Walgreen’s for ear plugs; 10 minutes for coffee to percolate; tote the ladder (husband’s responsibility); place ladder under detector; fumble awkwardly ’til daybreak.
Then —invariably — the adventure ends with me swinging violently at the ceiling with a baseball bat.
I think our pets are also part of a mysterious underworld plot to deprive me of third-stage REM sleep. We have a cat named Marbles, which is ironic since he doesn’t have any (neutered, if you get my meaning). Our dog, Abby, was a “free” dog we’ve had for a year (that has cost me $5,364.23 so far).
As I said; sleep don’t come easy in the McKeithan home. Marbles may no longer have urges to reproduce, but he sure hasn’t lost his hunting instincts. He ventures out into the jungle swamp lands — known locally as “Macswoods” — and often returns with some creature in the clinch of his jaws.
Like the big jungle cats of Africa, Marbles does his most effective hunting in the darkness of night. He brings his trophies to our back door to the triumphant howling of our admiring dog. Her incessant loud barking must be canine for “Give me some … give me some … give me some … give me some!”
Her woofing-pleas are so loud in fact that they awaken me each night (at precisely 2:30 a.m.). These barks also startle other loud dogs, the neighbors and their car alarms.
I, therefore — as “encouraged” by my beautiful wife — must “go see what Marbles has and calm Abby down.” What Marbles usually “has” is a half-alive sweet little animal. It becomes his play toy. You see, Marbles doesn’t hunt for food; he does it for fun.
As I try to rescue the poor creature, Marbles will stalk it and suddenly lurch; much like me at the Pizza Inn buffet line. The difference is, when I take a bite of my chocolate chip Pizzert, I finish it. Marbles, on the other hand, will walk away leaving the mauled creature to fend for itself.
Guess who remains to take care of my beast’s little plaything? Correcto. Me. Dr. Doolittle. Usually to no avail — my “patients” have a zero percent survival rate.
The tiny rabbit I rescued last week was sure to survive I thought. I put him in a box with food and water and brought him inside to our utility room. We are all familiar with rabbits in magic acts. Pulling a rabbit from a hat is the oldest trick in the book. However, I learned it’s not the magician who is the master of illusion — it’s the RABBIT!
When I went to check on our poor new pet, the rabbit had disappeared. It was no longer in the box, or the utility room for that matter! Poof! Gone! PRESTO-WHAMO!
Later in the day, determined to solve the mystery, I moved the dryer and found li’l Bugs Bunny nestled in the corner, warming itself near dryer lint.
I have many more stories of nocturnal nuisances and sleepless nights, but I’m too exhausted to write about them now.
It’s time for an energy boost as darkness settles in. I think I’ll go stalk some Stromboli at Pizza Inn.
Obligatory McKeithan column disclaimer: Fire safety is not a laughing matter. Smoke detector batteries should be changed at least twice yearly so late-night battery changing “incidents” won’t be necessary.
Ray McKeithan is associate publisher of the Washington Daily News. Your negative comments about McKeithan or his writing may be sent directly to his email address: