The other day, I made a cup of coffee, turned on the television and sat in my recliner. My recliner is well worn, with a wobbly left arm, but the good parts still work. I sat in my favorite chair, set the coffee on the table beside me and promptly fell asleep. I’m not talking about a catnap, either. This was a full-blown, eyes-locked-closed, snoring-like-a-buzz-saw snooze. Down for the count for more than two hours. I didn’t even notice the cat had jumped onto the recliner and fell asleep at my feet.
Lately, I get tired more frequently. My doctor assures me there is nothing wrong and I am just getting older. The recliner has been the epicenter of my slumber. I hit the thing, and I am out. I don’t know what Lay-Z-Boy put in this thing, but I think it’s made from melatonin.
As children, we all were told we had to take a nap. If we were acting like nasty little cretins, we were told by our parents to take a nap. In preschool, naps came after we ate our snacks or lunches. Not a single one of us wanted to take a nap because taking a nap meant we had to take time out of our busy child schedules to sleep. We slept at night, why would we sleep in the middle of the day? By the time we were teenagers, we would do everything we could not to go to sleep and the all-nighter became a regular event.
In the summertime, when I was an adolescent, my parents wouldn’t really care if my brother and I stayed up all night — as long as we were quiet, didn’t disturb them and basically stayed in our room. That wasn’t too bad, because we had a 12-inch black and white TV from Western Auto in our room. We would stay up and watch Johnny Carson thinking it was the greatest. After Johnny, in those days, was David Letterman, just as he was beginning his long late-night run. In those days, he was in the 12:30 time slot, and by then most people were sound asleep during the week. The good stuff came on afterward, when most of the channels would show old movies in the wee hours. Cable TV was not available on our road, so we were stuck with plain old TV. I would watch movies until I fell asleep or the sun came up, whichever came first.
I don’t know what is on late-night TV now. Johnny Carson retired and died and David Letterman retired a few years ago. They don’t show old movies like they used to in the middle of the night. Cable TV is the norm and most people have a thousand channels to choose from. I tried watching movies on Netflix one night when I couldn’t sleep and wound up watching low-budget action movies and being unable to sleep. I had a hard time sleeping, but I managed to watch every Gary Busey film made in the nineties.
Nowadays, a nap is a treat. Usually, it happens on a weekend afternoon when Cooper and I are tuckered out and done with whatever an old man and a cat do on weekends. I always seem to fall asleep first, and Cooper joins me wherever I have fallen asleep. Most weekends, it’s the recliner, with an old western on the television. My wife never turns off the TV when Cooper and I are napping because I always wake up when she does and tell her I was watching television and she didn’t have to turn it off. Cooper never complains, because he can just find another place to sleep and he usually does.
I’m writing this column from the recliner. I have my feet up and the laptop actually on my lap. I’m not particularly tired at the moment, but my wife got something from Redbox and we’re going to spend some “quality time” together. I’ll probably be asleep about twenty minutes into the movie and Cooper won’t be far behind. Eventually, my wife will tell both of us it’s bed time and she will shoo us out of the living room so she can shut the house down for the evening. I’ll wind up in the bedroom looking for my pajamas and Cooper will be on the bed with his head on my pillow. He’ll already be asleep, snoring quietly as cats do. I, however, will be wide awake.
My wife will fall asleep before I do, Cooper will be sound asleep and I will be wide awake, looking at the television remotes. There’s no sense in turning it on. Johnny Carson is long gone and I have already seen every movie Gary Busey was in.
Baltimore native Joe Weaver is a husband, father, pawnbroker and gun collector. From his home in New Bern, he writes on the lighter side of family life.