I’ve become a “sleep geek.”
In fact, most of the time I get enough good sleep (seven-eight hours most nights) that I can wake up on my own at a predetermined hour without an alarm clock going off first.
Of course, that is if I’m not stirred from my biorhythmic slumber by the undulating, tortuous sound of my cat throwing up outside under my bedroom window.
There’s nothing quite like that kind of wake-up call.
Invariably on any given morning, I check to see if the cat wants in at 5 a.m., which is usually when I wake up. Sometimes the cat has one paw stuck through the crack in the door before I open it—a sure sign that it would like to come inside.
Other times, the cat nonchalantly is strolling up to the door, looking this way and that, having just finished throwing up and knowing full well (after many similar episodes) that barfing in the early-morning hour will send me to the door to give it a piece of my mind—at which point, the cat saunters on by my scolding pointed finger and into the great indoors as if I’m not even there.
But let’s not forget a third “cat at the door in the morning” scenario—the one where my cat does as writer Pam Brown touts and “works out mathematically the exact place to sit that will cause the most inconvenience.”
That exact place would be about two body lengths away on the porch step seemingly unable to decide what to do next while I stand there like a moron coaxing it with cat language as an army of mosquitoes hitch a ride into the house on my pajamas.
Then, just as I give up and close the door, the cat slips through the opening and—as William Lyon Phelps said—pours his body on the floor like water.
The routine is endlessly predictable.
The cat then will inhale a mouthful of food, perhaps throw it up on the floor in the porch and go have a nap, or want back outside again.
The latter choice is made clear to me by thwacking relentlessly with his paw on the screen door that leads into the kitchen after I’ve gone inside to have my critical first cup of coffee.
I have no idea how the stupid cat figured out how to do that. The first time I heard it, I nearly had a heart attack thinking a stranger was trying to get in.
When I peered cautiously out, there was the cat staring at me, gesticulating towards the outer door the way my border collie used to do when it wanted to go outside to pee.
And if all that cat drama isn’t enough to make me want to crawl back into bed for a sleep do-over, I can always open the door to find the cat sitting there with a Cheshire grin—and the long tail of a field mouse still protruding and wriggling from its mouth.
Wherein I bolt to the bathroom for my very own undulating, tortuous round of morning sickness.
There’s nothing quite like that kind of wake-up call, either.
I’ve become a “sleep geek.”