Autograph Hound's Blah Blah Blog

Monday, February 9, 2015

Vignette – the alarm clock

This isn’t autograph oriented but it is autobiographic oriented.

Tuesday night I got a sore throat. It came on quickly and was intense. It hurt a lot.  Swallowing was miserable. Obviously the lymph nodes were swollen as the pain was sharp.  Pitifully, I asked my dear sweet caring wife to get me some ice cream.  Request denied.

After dragging myself to Wendy’s for a Frosty, the best sore throat medicine you can buy without a prescription, I sat in front of the TV and quickly ate the numbing ice cream.  It didn’t work. I took some aspirin and got ready for bed.

I never really slept. I dozed lightly. The discomfort from swallowing brought me back to the surface of reality; a reality where I recalled vague dream remnants of tonsillectomies and tracheotomies and gargling with acid.

At 2:17 AM (I know because I looked), I gave up on dozing. With the lights still off, I got up. I bit the bullet and went to the hard stuff. I took a big swig of Nyquil. From the bottle. Without wiping the lip.

I hate taking the hard stuff when I need to work in the morning. I always wake up slow and foggy. I don’t like that feeling. It’s why I don’t drink. I like to remain in control. If you know me, it’s such an oxymoron-ism as I’m rarely in control.

As a concession to the oncoming hangover and the lack of sleep, I decided to reset my alarm clock. I was going to give myself 1 extra hour of sleep.  Simple enough. I’ve had this alarm clock for 30 years. I have reset the alarm hundreds of times in the middle of the night. I know this alarm clock.  It has 2 toggles: 1 for time, 1 for alarm.  It has one button: snooze.  It’s simple; much like its owner.  I 'get' this alarm clock.  Its large red glowing numbers are easy to read without my glasses in the middle of the night. I can quickly hit the snooze button with my fingers while my thumb slides the alarm toggle to the off position.

I truly wish I lived in a perfect world.  A world where things did not break. A world where things did not break in the middle of the night.  A world where things do not break in the middle of the night when you are sick and not thinking straight. My alarm clocked decided at that time to teach me the values of my wishes.  As I flipped the toggle to change the alarm setting, it broke.

The clock could have just lost power.

The time on the face could have frozen.

It decided to tauntingly blink and rapidly cycle though its comforting red numbers. The AM/PM dot flicked off and on as ‘time’ sped by.  If my clock had a date, a week passed in 10 seconds.  I feared I would wake the love of my life and the mother of my cats if the alarm sounded and I couldn’t turn it off.

Feebly I slid my thumb over the toggles for the alarm and the time. I clicked the snooze button repeatedly.  Curses were muttered under my breath. I had only one recourse: unplug it.

In my perfect world, I would have had a plug near my side of the bed that this clock was connected into.

In reality we have a beautiful headboard. Its 7 feet tall and has night stands built into the sides. There are drawers beneath the mirror which we prop our pillows on as we read.  There is a shelf along the top with small reading lights.  On top of that shelf we keep a real plant and a plastic plant. The headboard is the center piece of the room.  This centerpiece blocks access to the one plug on the wall. The plug has a power strip attached to it.  We have 2 clocks (one of which has now gone insane), a lamp, and the reading lights plugged into the strip. You need to move the mattresses from the headboard to gain access. Needless to say, it’s not what I want to do at 2:17 AM with a sleeping wife and very sore throat.

Not to be thwarted so easily, I know the history of this house. The electrical plug behind the headboard is loose. A slight wiggle will cause the plug to fail.  I know this because our three cats will habitually disturb the cord and we lose power. Then we have the joy of jiggling the cords back to get the clocks and lights to work again.

Easy peasy – I just need to pull the clock forward and the power cord will pull the on the power strip and the power strip will pull on the socket. The power will turn off.  I pulled.  The numbers still blinked and spun.  I pulled some more. The cursing under my breath was no longer under my breath.

The world just shot a third salvo across my bow.

In frustration I yanked. No change.  How hard it is to pull a cord out of a socket or power strip?  The vacuum cleaner cord plops out if you look at it funny.  I yanked hard.  I heard the cords clank against the wall.  I heard the slumbering wife’s clock dragged from its place.  The glowing numbers I’ve known for over a generation still mocked me and my aching throat.

The cats woke. They thought this was bonus ‘fun time’.  John hopped up next me all purrs.  He demanded I stroke his cheek as he high stepped in front of me.  Georgie shook herself awake with a quiet chirp meow.  She then stepped off the DVR (her personal heater) and talked at me as I tried to move John out of the way.  Paul just rolled belly up like a dead fish and begged for a tummy rub.  The wife slept.

I’m mad. I’m embarrassingly mad. I yank harder. The clock comes clear of the wall. I heard the power strip bang against the wall loudly. The cords clank loudly. Karen’s clock moved loudly. With this clamor, the cats scattered and the wife stirred.

I didn’t hear one thing. I expected to hear my clock make some noise as it cleared the wall.  My clock was in my hands. I never heard it clear the wall. This was not good. Even with the lights off, I knew the cord snapped.

I got up and went to the kitchen and turned turn on the lights. I looked the clock and confirmed the cord broke.  I muttered to myself. I heard the click of the reading lamp as the wife tried to figure out what just happened. Since she is awake, I cursed without muttering.

I set the clock down; this old traitorous friend of mine. I really wanted to make a short trip to the garage and introduce this quisling to Mister Hammer.  I deferred.  I went back to the exposed cord before a fired started.

The wife was up out of bed.  I didn’t really explain much to her. I grunted a few things in her general direction.  Words were not my friends at this time.  Unquestioningly she started to help.

I did the heavy work. I pulled the bed back from the head board.  At this time the cords decided they had wiggled enough that the power disconnected. Yes, you read that right, yanking a cord out of the wall and waking the wife didn’t jiggle the cords enough. Moving the mattresses which doesn’t touch the cords did kill the power. Did I need yet another example of an imperfect world?

My first reaction to losing the power to the head board lights was negative but I realized this was a good thing. When the wife pulled the broken cord from the power strip, she wasn’t shocked.

Her attempts to wiggle the cords in the plug just the right way to get the power back were unsuccessful.  We tried to unplug and then replug the power strip. No success. We moved the whole power strip to another wall. Since my clock was no longer a limiting factor, the cord would reach the next closest socket. The power was restored. The wife reset her clock to 2:32 AM, a mere 15 minutes.  I grunted a few more things at her (thank you, love you, good night, the world hates me). She went back to sleep.

As I turned off the kitchen light and picked up my phone to set its alarm, I noted my throat was no longer sore. I got into bed and pulled the covers up. I took a deep calming breath. I tried to slow the heartbeat. The adrenaline faded. The pain returned.

It is not a perfect world.


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