Archived Opinion

Take the bait, or get more sleep?

Take the bait, or get more sleep?

I can hear my son rolling around upstairs.

He’s in this pretty pricey chair he bought with his own money, one that was just “perfect” for gaming with his friends. They play complex, interactive, usually violent video games that would take me months to comprehend. Sometimes, shouting is involved, epithets, accusations and so on. Fine, but why does he need a chair with wheels? 

It’s a little after midnight. I’ve just finished up my daily Wordle, and since the Dodgers are on an east coast road trip and their game is already over, I’d like to get some sleep. I send my son a text message asking him to play with no more rolling or epithets. The old man needs some shut-eye. 

But I’m kidding myself. I turn off the lamp and fluff up my pillow, turning it upside down so I can burrow my head down into the cool side, one of life’s great, unsung pleasures. The ceiling fan is on, the sound machine drenching the room in white noise. These are my sleep ingredients, but not tonight. I’m as alert as my dogs are while watching me eat dinner. 

I turn from one side to the other, flipping my pillow again, now that it has warmed up as I review my usual list of self-recriminations. I’m drinking too much coffee. I’m not doing enough cardio. I’ve got too much on my mind, a half dozen thoughts racing in every direction like the dogs in the back yard chasing squirrels. 

My phone vibrates for a second on the nightstand in the darkness, black as ink. A few moments later, it vibrates again. Either someone is texting me or Tammy is sending me TikToks while watching “Scrubs” re-runs downstairs in the guest room. She likes sending me TikToks that are unbearably adorable or unassailably wise.  

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Someone might have found a baby fox abandoned behind a barn and filmed themselves washing it up in the kitchen sink. Some relationship sage might be giving four tips on how to rekindle the fading embers of romance for couples who have been together a long time and — let’s face it — have begun taking each other for granted without even realizing it … if you can imagine such a thing. 

Someone else might be in India, frolicking in the mud with a baby elephant, which we could do, too, damn it, if only we had the vision, a couple of passports and the joie de vivre. Wouldn’t I like to frolic with baby elephants in the mud? Well, wouldn’t I? 

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood. Am I curious enough to choose the road that leads to picking up my phone, which will inevitably entail turning on the lamp, propping myself up in bed and making a trip to the kitchen to retrieve some mixed nuts and a Sprite while I ponder these new TikToks or respond to whatever text messages there may be. 

Am I hungry enough for a banana sandwich? Should I watch the first 20 minutes of “The Big Lebowski”? What are my friends up to on Facebook? 

Or should I summon the discipline to leave the phone right where it is, inert and enveloped in darkness, until all of these thoughts lift from my consciousness like morning fog from the lake and I can at last sink into the delicious, velvety nothingness of sleep? 

If I could fall asleep in the next half hour or so, I might get as many as seven full hours instead of my usual six or less. What kind of dynamo would I be tomorrow if I woke up that well-rested?  

I turn back over, yawn, stretch and shudder, then reach for the phone. The light from the screen flickers in the darkness like a lit match. There is a text from a friend, a fellow Dodger fan that says, “The Dodgers will finally be back home tomorrow night. Let’s hope they can figure out their bullpen, which has been rancid!” 

And there are TikToks from Tammy, one featuring a squirrel eating a piece of a banana and then growling when the guy tries to take it away. I didn’t know that squirrels could growl, so I have learned something. Also, there’s a TikTok about introverts, which is set to the theme song from the television show, “Friends,” a show I always hated. The TikTok is better, even though it doesn’t have Jennifer Aniston. 

Now, there is no question that I will be turning on the lamp and stacking up the pillows so I can sit up in the bed. No question that I will be heading to the kitchen to make some microwave popcorn for the 1 a.m. screening of “The Big Lebowski,” because what kind of monster can stop watching that movie after 20 minutes? 

Upstairs, the perfect chair sounds like a bowling ball rolling down the lane, accompanied by a shrill complaint screeched by my son, who has shattered his previous vow of silence.  

Evidently, some guy named Josh is a real bastard.

(Chris Cox is a writer and teacher who lives in Haywood County. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..)

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