Nocturnal Agression

In nature, some of the most amazing things happen at night. While the moon pulls most humans into their nesting routine, a great many animals are foraging, hunting, fighting, and competing for survival. And some don’t make it until morning. It’s an epic struggle to overcome the forces of the dark. Be alert little gazelle.

If I use a dry British accent, does that sound ominous enough?

I love nature documentaries and remember being entranced by one that pits a pride of lions against a clan of hyenas. Talk about an epic struggle! The lions took down a zebra or gazelle or something (sucks to be a grass-eater in Africa) and the hyenas wanted in. They didn’t want to share though. They started nipping that the rumps of the lions. The lions kept them at bay until their nasty cackles attracted their entire clan. Then there were seemingly millions of them laughing and biting. More huge lions came and the fight went on. 

The lions looks like me when I had toddlers at TGI Fridays.

“Why can’t we ever just enjoy our meal?”

There is similar nocturnal aggression going on in my home and likely across the civilized world. It’s an ancient conflict that pits husband against wife and can be as savage as lion vs. hyena: The Blanket War.

A few nights ago, I was happily asleep, swaddled in my cocoon when I was viciously pulled from my dreams by a tug. Then another. The tug persisted and even got stronger until I roused to realize the blanket was gone. Not the whole blanket, just the nested layers I had made this cold night.

“What are you doing,” I roared.

“You don’t get all the blanket,” she replied calmly.

“You can’t just rip it off me!”

“You don’t get 2/3’s of it.”

“But I’m 2/3’s of the people in the bed.”

            I must break the thrilling dialog here to explain that while this might appear to be fuzzy math, the concept was quite sound. What I was attempting to elucidate in a sleepy haze is that I am 2/3’s of the human girth in our relationship, thus 2/3’s of the poundage in the bed and deserving of 2/3’s of the blanket.

“It doesn’t matter, I get half.”

It was then that I woke up enough to realize that I did, in fact, have nearly all of the blanket pinned under my immovable 2/3’s girth. That’s why she was tugging. She was right.

But I doubt the cackling hyena ever admits he was wrong to poach the lions hard-earned meal and I wasn’t about to admit I was hogging the blanket. 

So I did what any husband would do; I grumbled and rolled until she could get under the blanket with what I assume was a contented, smug smile. Even though I wasn’t quite as warm, I started to drift back to sleep until the answer to this nocturnal aggression hit me – double king-size blankets. They would unfold like a happy burrito shell and both partners could sleep merrily under their own 2/3’s of a blanket – making it a total of 4/3… 

While this math definitely doesn’t line up, my invention could possibly shift the balance of nature, allowing lions and hyenas to live blissfully together.

Wouldn’t the zebras be happy then.

Licking the Pavement

A few weeks ago, I watched my brother-in-law’s dogs while they spent a week at the beach. They’ve got two dogs: Maggie and Loopy (*name changed to protect the crazy). Maggie is a middle-aged chocolate lab. If you’ve ever owned a lab, you know that middle-aged can still mean terrible twos. Labs often live a decade as a puppy then become senior citizens overnight. I guess that’s what makes them so lovable.

Maggie is the exception. She has always been calm and sweet. She’s just laid back by nature. They found out recently that she is diabetic and I had to give her a shot of insulin in the mornings. This proved rather tricky – only because I didn’t listen very well when instructions were given.

This is a recurring theme in my life. I like to think of it as a cute little quirk, but it is often frustrating when I am left to do a task with no remembrance of how to do it… and from the inside looking out, I imagine this “quirk” is mind-numbingly bothersome to my family. When I take time to consider this, I often think I should change my ways and do better. But then I forget what I was thinking and move on to more fruitful imaginings. After all, we deserve a few eccentricities when we pass 50.

Back to the dogs…

Maggie and I weren’t working well together. For the first few mornings, she wasn’t very thrilled to see me coming with the shot and even though she is mellow, she does weigh 100 pounds and is tall enough that her bucks can reach sensitive areas. But then I discovered wet dog food. Wet dog food smells like a moldy, damp cellar after a possum has crawled in and died on a hot day. But to a dog, it must be like a chocolate éclair. She woofed it down and didn’t even notice the prick of the needle on her neck. Perfect. And this became our routine (and was evidently the instructions provided had I listened.)

But where is Loopy?

When set free in the morning, Loopy bolted straight to a puddle left by rain run-off from the car. I found her licking the pavement. In a panic, I checked to see if I had neglected to leave the water. Nope, three full bowls of nice, clean h2o – and yet that dog preferred to lick the pavement. Every morning it was the same thing. I tried coaxing her with bottled water, treats, and a ball to play with. No dice, she ran straight for the puddle. With plenty of better options, she only wanted to lick dirty water from the pavement.

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One day during the week, my lovely wife had a birthday. Although you wouldn’t believe it to see her, she has joined me in the half-a-century club. We took her to a fun, loud, Italian dinner. A few tables away, there was a family of four who quietly interacted with their phones during the whole meal. I kept stealing glances and at some point, it dawned on me… they’re licking the pavement. With better options all around, they are glued to little electronic devices.

I could moralize more, but I’m as guilty as the next guy. Whether it is Instagram, football, our careers, or any myriad of other distractions, we get stuck wasting time on temporal things instead of investing in things that matter – our family, friends, and other human relationships. We lick the pavement.  Some things are unavoidable. We have to work and get things done. But be honest, we’ve all got the rocky, pebbly taste of wasted time on our tongues and time is a finite resource. What’s the answer?

As much as possible, let’s stop licking the pavement lick the important people in our lives instead!

Wait… that doesn’t sound right at all.