It was a pleasant day. It’d been months since we’d seen Seattle or the rain. That is what I miss most about Washington. The rain. The seasons, the green trees. Blue skies not choked by chocolate smog. In LA there is only eternal sunshine and while this may seem heavenly at first it eventually becomes hellish. Especially when it’s Christmas and it’s in the upper 70’s. Christmas isn’t Christmas unless it’s so cold your nipples could cut glass.
My novia and I had planned a surprise trip to visit my mom. She was certainly surprised. In fact she heard us talking in the driveway with my dad and thought she was hallucinating. She asked us where were staying. We had already booked a place on Bainbridge Island for the night but I told her we planned on staying with them Saturday and Sunday night. My novia would have the guest bed while I would be relegated to the blow up mattress.
Saturday came. It was a busy day. We attended two of my mother’s book signings in Seattle. By the time we got back to Silverdale, where we would be meeting my friends for dinner, it was somewhere in the neighborhood of 4:00pm. We made a quick stop at the BevMo where I picked up a rack of Redstripe.
“Are these twist off?” I asked. My novia began to look for something with which to open our beer. “No matter I said, and showed her how to open a beer bottle using another beer bottle.
“That’s impressive,” she said. “Where did you learn how to do that?” A college buddy. Most likely it was discovered by a drunk.
We sat inside the rental car, watching the rain melt the outside world into an impressionistic painting while we nursed our beer and ate marinated olives. We were both drained, in need of a brief reprieve. In a matter of moments we’d be in the busy bee hive that is Red Robin, a place I’ve frequently since my teenage years.
The noise of the kids section was merely a dull roar in my ears thanks to Redstripe. One of my friends told their son, Benjamin, to take it easy on the ranch sauce. He held a chicken strip in his hand and he wore disappointment on his face, along with gobs of ranch dressing. I told him to just dip his chicken strip on his face.
By the end of dinner the parents were spent, the table looked like a landfill, and there was a small mountain of used napkins.
Later that evening…
My mother asked my dad to blow up the blue air mattress for me. He had a pair of ear muffs that could block out the noise of a jet engine. He plugged in the air pump and flipped a switch. It sounded like a plane ramping up for take-off. The mattress began to rise to life.
Dad sat monitoring it. Last time I slept on it was some winters ago. It felt like I was sleeping on an ice block. I asked dad to put it in my mom’s office, instead of his man cave. Due to poor ventilation it doesn’t get very warm in there. It’s really more of an igloo than a cave; filled with various clocks my dad has collected throughout the years. All of them ticking out of synch. I felt like I was inside a clock in Antarctica the first time I ever slept in there. I spent about 15 minutes collecting all the clocks and putting them outside the room.
I returned for the donning of the bed sheets. The first sheet was that obnoxious sheet with the elastic stretchy band, the one that always makes you look like a fool when you’re trying to put it on your mattress or swallows all the clothes in the dryer and keeps them from drying properly. Each time I would secure it to one side then stretch it to the other it would pop off and slap me in the face. This happened about three times before I finally asked dad for help.
We stretched it at the same time, both of us in a tug-of-war to secure to our side. Then we decided to put on the sheet one side at a time. He’d hold his side while I secured mine and vice versa. It went back and forth like a seesaw. Mom said it was big enough for a queen.
Both of us stared at the air mattress. Both of us silently looking for a solution. My solution involved a pin.
“I could get some suspenders,” dad said. I didn’t know they made suspenders for sheets.
“How about some tent spikes?” I returned. I highly doubted suspenders were the solution. I could envision me asleep in the middle of the night when the suspenders snapped and rendered me either blind or sterile.
“I can just sleep on top of the sheet,” I said.
“It’s probably not going to stay on,” my dad said. I told him it would be fine. I was over it.
Sometimes after midnight my novia and I woke up after having fallen asleep watching a movie. We hugged and kissed each other goodnight and went to our respective rooms, she to the guest room, me to my blow up bed. I could barely keep my eyes open. I flopped down on the mattress, ready to drift off to dreamland. My feet were dangling off the end of the bed. I lifted my head and looked down at them, greatly annoyed. Maybe my pillow’s too low, I thought, and moved it to the very tip top of the mattress. It hadn’t helped at all.
I suspected the mattress had lost some air because I began to feel it hugging my shoulder tightly.
“I’m sleeping in an effing taco,” I told the ceiling. Only I didn’t use effing.
Maybe if I lay diagonally, I thought. I repositioned. Nope. With all the squirming and repositioning my feet had become shackled in bed sheet. I was a prisoner in this big blue blow up taco.
I flung off the blankets, wriggled free from my sheet shackles, and jumped to my feet. I began cursing vehemently. 8 years of working in kitchen’s have given me a black belt in cussing. I threw open the door to the man igloo and slammed the blow up taco on the floor.
“I rather sleep on the floor than with you, you bloody taco!” I told it and then went in search for the sleeping bag.
It wasn’t in the office closet. It wasn’t in the coat closet. It wasn’t in the man igloo. It could have only been in two other places. Either it was in the guest bedroom, where my novia was fast asleep, or in my parents room, where they were also fast asleep during my nocturnal hell.
I marched to the living room and raked up every available blanket, while cursing, and marched back to the office, while cursing, and began to build a makeshift cot out of blankets, while cursing.
“What are you doing, Robert?”
I was very surprised to see my novia standing over me with her hands on her hips. I hadn’t even heard her come in. I don’t even know what I said. I just began babbling.
“I thought you were asleep,” I said.
“I heard you marching around like a grump goat,” she said.
“Did you hear what I was saying?”
“I heard everything,” she told me. Gulp.
How embarrassing it is when someone you love see’s or hears you acting like a big fat baby.
“You’re sleeping in the guest bed and I’m sleeping on the couch,” she said sternly. I patted her on the hip and began to tell her I’d be fine sleeping on the floor.
“Enough,” she said sharply while swatting my hand away.
“Ok,” I said, knowing this wasn’t open for discussion.
I made her a little cocoon on the couch and tucked her in and said goodnight, after apologizing for my abominable behavior. She reminded me that it wasn’t the first time she’d seen me raging and told me that she loved me nonetheless. Now that’s true love. For better or for worse, through sickness and health, through good times, or grumpy goat.
Shortly thereafter I was asleep in the guest bed.