When you’re awakened by a text message at 6:32 in the morning, it can’t bode well. My parents raised me to never call anyone before 9:00 AM, and my wife and I indoctrinated our four children with the same social wisdom. There were no cell phones when I was young–hence no texting to apply the 9:00 AM rule to. In fact, cell phones were still in their infancy until my kids were well into their late teens. Cell phones back then carried the heft of a size-12 brogan, and texting wasn’t an option. Lest I lose my point in this morass of communication media, it still follows that you don’t call anyone before 9:00 AM, just as you wouldn’t pound on a person’s door at that ungodly hour.
And in this enlightened age, you certainly don’t text anyone at 6:32 in the morning, unless …
The grating chirp came from far away, and at first, whatever part of my mind was on duty refused to anchor its Captain’s ship-of-sleep from its gentle course through foam and brine. But, then it had to happen that, mid-chirp, the boatswain obtruded his rank, tossed over the anchor, and dispatched the underling below deck where dream creatures lurked, waiting, their call. The anchor tugged my ship-of-sleep to a halt.
My eyes snapped open. I glanced at the clock and felt my irritation shift—with the increase of my heartbeat—to concern. Did I just dream it? I threw back the sheet, leapt from my bed and padded to the dining-room table, knocking a few coins to the floor as I retrieved my phone.
Seeing my wife’s name on the screen, my heartbeat shot to my throat (for she was as enthusiastic as I about the 9:00 rule). My eyes raced over the text: “Hope you know you woke me up with this [your] unnecessary reply at nearly 1 AM after I already told you I was exhausted.”
I’ll come back to this. Backstory is needed, first.
From the beginning of our marriage, over fifty years ago, Roseana told me how important it was for her to travel across the country to visit her relatives. Well, too many priorities intervened as we watched our children grow and follow their dreams, two of them marrying and populating the world with additional intervening priorities.
I truly doubt if Roseana’s dream would ever have been fulfilled if she hadn’t persistently nudged it for better than twenty years. When she was asked what she hankered for at every approaching birthday, Christmas, Mother’s Day, and any other gifting occasion, she always put gas and fast food gift cards at the top of the list, and she socked away any cash gifted to her.
I’m tempted to omit something that has no direct relevance to the backstory, but I’m going to thrust forward and tell you anyway: Roseana and I separated a few years ago. That said, we still have strong feelings for each other. We simply couldn’t live under the same roof, without one of us starring in an episode of Dateline.* She has her mobile home in a mountain community, twenty miles from the house where my Shih Tzu and I live (and every fifteen-minutes of every waking hour, make four circuits of the interior perimeter—the subject of another post).
Two weeks ago, she began her journey of a lifetime. Truly, truly I am happy for her. The back end of the backstory taken care of, I’ll slip now to the foyer, and the events of last night.
At about eleven o’clock last night, I was on the computer “chatting” with WordPress.com technical support over a problem I was having with my blog. We were communicating via those little cartoon-like bubbles. Roseana phoned me, and since there was about a 10-minute time-lapse between my question and the Techie’s answer, I had time to answer my wife’s call. She rushed through her call when I told her my situation, simply wondering if I got her text. I told her I didn’t, but would check it out soon. “No need,” she told me. “I texted you that I had dinner with Donna (my sister), and Ron (Donna’s husband). I’m back in my motel room now, and exhausted.” The text and phone call came from Kansas, which was two hours later than California time.
After I resolved my Blogging problem, I checked my phone for the lost text. Sure enough—just as she said. I tinkered around, watched the news and got ready for bed. I unloaded my pockets on my dining-room table, started to head for bed, but something niggled at me. Hating to leave a received text unanswered, I picked up the phone, went to her message, and tapped out, “Great!” and pushed the send button.
Looking back at it, her 6:32 AM text message made some sort of crazy sense. Still, she violated the 9:AM rule!
After whipping around a sea of bed-sheets, unable to sleep (Yes, foolishly I thought I could re-board that ship-of-sleep), I disentangled myself, and stomped back to the table. I texted: “Sorry. You paid me back at 6:32 AM.”
I felt vindicated for about ten minutes.
*While I can’t imagine any American not understanding the reference to Dateline, in the interest of readers from other countries, let me say that Dateline is a drama about a crime (almost always murder), its investigation, leading to the arrest (usually the spouse), and the trial, where the drama intensifies to the conviction or acquittal. And, if the former, the drama wouldn’t be complete without the prison interview.