Tuesday, September 23, 2008

3 AM Logic

You'd think I'd have learned my lesson by now. There is a very simple rule to follow to help ensure a decent night's sleep: At 3 AM, whatever you think you should do is completely wrong and you must immediately do the exact opposite.

A few years ago, I'd just returned from a leafleting trip to Southern California, and I'd crashed a some pretty sketchy motels. Because I am cheap. Anyway, the night after returning, my arms started to itch. I went to bed, and at around 3 AM the itch became unbearable. I got out of bed and found raised, red bumps all over my arms and chest. I tried anti-itch cream, but it didn't help. So what did I do? Did I go back to bed? No. I went on to Google. Within 15 minutes, I was convinced--convinced, I tell you--that I had been attacked by bed bugs in one of the motels. And that they'd hitched a ride back home with me in my suitcase. One click leads to another, and I'm drowning in horror stories about how impossible it is to get rid of bed bugs because they are apparently the immortal spawn of Satan himself and no mere man can defeat them alone. So now it's 5 AM and I'm nearing a panic. I decide to check out our bed to see if there are any bed bugs. So I get my flashlight and sneak up on Nick, hoping to catch one of the little devils in the act.

"What are you doing?" a sleepy voice asks. "Are you pretending to be Gil Grissom or something?"

Busted. Nick props himself up and stares at me. My flashlight droops. "I'm itching," I said. "And I went on the internet."

Of course the hives turned out to be just that--hives. Contact dermatitis, probably from some laundry detergent or fabric softener used by one of the motels. Take lots of antihistamines and wait it out. No bed bugs. No Satan lurking in my closet.

This is all to say: Whatever you think you should do at 3 AM is WRONG.

So last night at 3 AM (and then 3:30 AM, and then 3:45 AM, and then 4:05 AM and so forth), I'm freezing, then roasting, then freezing, then roasting. My jammies are damp with sweat. Every muscle in my body hurts. I'm tossing and turning. I can't get comfortable. I'm having horrible dreams. I'm freezing again.

Logic--real logic, not 3 AM logic--would dictate to 1) get out of bed, 2) put on dry jammies, 3) take some pain medication, and 4) walk around the house for a few minutes to shake the bad dreams.

But 3 AM logic says to stay in bed, huddling under the covers, soaking the sheets in sweat so that they can't keep you warm either. Then fling off the covers and flop around. Then pull the covers back on. And whatever you do, don't get out of bed. Staying in bed and suffering is the only correct thing at this point.

I finally got up and changed clothes, but I was too foggy and/or stupid to take some pain medication.

I think I need a glowing neon sign in my bedroom. YOU ARE WRONG, it will tell me. I'll squint at it--it'll need to be really big so I can read it without glasses--and think, huh? YOU ARE WRONG. But I should stay here and ache and sweat through my tank top and be miserable. YOU ARE WRONG, the sign will blink. WRONG. WRONG. WRONG.

But by 3 AM logic, would I listen? Would anyone? Or would we unplug the sign and, minutes later, find ourselves Googling bed bugs or leukemia or whatever other horror will lead us, flashlight in hand, back into the now-dark bedroom?

The dead sign, pathetic without power, impotently beseeching me. YOU. ARE. WRONG.

1 comment:

  1. my 3AM poor choice is usually either:

    a) "it's too cold to get out of bed to pee. i'm sure the urge will go away if i just lie here long enough."

    b) "i'm sure the dog's just staring at me because he wants some water. i'll just open the bedroom door. i'm sure it's not because he wants to pee/poop/vomit all over the kitchen."