Twas The Night Before Independence Day- A Fourth Of July Love Story.

It’s 1:30 AM (do you notice these days how I keep mentioning what time it is? Of course you don’t- no one ever reads more than one article of mine before they learn better. Well, for you newbie’s, or fresh bait, I do…have been. I’ve been an insomniac lately. The difference is, tonight I’m a reluctant one.). Not even my most die hard friends from NYC are still up at this hour; it’s 4:30 there, and the ones who I used to party ‘after hours’ with are all long dead. Too many late nights, you see. But a half hour ago I was dead asleep and planned to stay that way till morning. That is, until that little bundle of barbed wire that I lovingly call my wife woke me up.

“Chuck, I hear water running.” she said after banging the bedroom door open. No, “Baby, are you awake?”, whispered in a gentle and reluctant tone. No, “I’m sorry to wake you, Hon, but…”. No. Just an abrupt and loud calling my name from six feet away. Even my dog sleeping on the floor next to the bed groaned in disbelief.

“What water?”, I mumble.

“The sprinklers are on.”, she answered, as if watering the lawn was tantamount to killing baby rabbits with a BB gun.

“Yeah”, I answered, “I started them yesterday. It’s fine.” I ridiculously thought- it must have been the REM talking- that she’d say ‘oh’ and leave me the fuck alone. I was still in that half asleep phase where it could’ve gone either way. I knew which way I was pulling for. But no…this conversation was just getting started.

“Shouldn’t they have gone on at six?”, she asks, getting pissed, “They’re just shooting water everywhere, wasting money.”

“How long have they been on?”, I groan.

She starts in on something involving wasted water and me not caring about it, even though I checked the system when I ran it through it’s cycle during the afternoon.It was fine. I interrupt her, always a bad move when she’s in mid-rant.

“How long has it been on?”, I beg again. The system takes a half hour or so to run it’s course. She sees no reason to answer this, but walks back down the hall, still bitching to herself out loud. I actually start to doze off again.

And that , you see, is my problem. While I hate being one of those people who tell you what they are, as in, “I’m one of those people who can never make a mistake.” or something equally untrue (anyone who thinks they know what they are is an idiot. What they’re actually telling you is what kind of person they wish they were. No one has any idea who they really are.), but after fifty one years I have recognized one thing about myself- if I wake up in the middle of the night, I can never get right back to sleep. It usually takes several hours for me to relax enough again to get tired. So I’m dimly aware of just how grateful I am that I’m not awake. That is, till she does it again a few minutes later, coming back in and complaining that things are working correctly.

That does it. I get up, get dressed, and go to the basement, fighting spider webs, not caring about being bitten by the literally dozens of Black Widows who call this rental house home, my arachnid sublets, and shut the system off. Let the fucking grass die, let the trees wither and the oleander drop it’s flowers. Fuck em all.

I stumble back upstairs, bang through the front door and say, “Just wait till morning.”

She’s a ‘crack of noon’ kind of sleeper, staying up till one or two at night and sleeping late. (There’s theory told to me by the writer and poet Kelsea Habecker’s mother…if you were born in the early hours of the morning, you’re always gonna be a morning person; if you’re born late at night, you’ll always be a night-owl. I was born around six something in the morning. Right now, however, I’m not sure my wife was born at all- I think she’s just…eternally nocturnal, a creature of the dark.)

Anyway, I’m now awake enough now to remember I forgot to buy coffee when I was at the local Holiday Market this evening. Yesterday evening. If I’m gonna be up, I might as well drink coffee and actually be awake as well; a self perpetrating cycle. So I grab the car keys and drive to the gas station and buy five cups of the black sludge that’s been simmering for hours like a forgotten pot of sauce on the stove. I would’ve bought more, but I’ve emptied the machine.

I know the clerk on the overnight shift, so I give him a rundown of what a sober man is doing buying five cups of coffee at quarter past one in the morning on the Fourth of July. He tells me about how after working three double shifts and finally hitting the bed, his own wife lays their screaming infant next to his head- he needs a little quality time with the baby and all. We agree that married life is wonderful (The old joke- ‘Love is blind. Marriage is an institution. Love leads to marriage. Therefore, marriage is an institution for the blind). Then I drive back home.

The lights are out; my wife has gone to bed, where she’ll sleep peacefully till around five thirty this morning when by accident I’ll intentionally drop all the pots and pans I’ll be unloading from the dishwasher, guaranteeing a very vocal response from our other dog, a Border Collie, who believes any noise closer than six hundred feet away merit’s a five minute barking spree. What a good dog she is.

So instead of writing a patriotic piece on the Fourth of July, I’m writing this crap. Oh, by the way, a few days ago I posted something about my RV and the old woman who lives next door- well, here’s an update. I went online to one of those realtor sites to find out just why her house is so ‘special’. It’s 3,270sf, three beds, three baths, living room, dining room and great room with a massive RV garage stuck on one side. Oh yeah, the guy also built a putting green in the back yard. It’s got no views and the house next door is for sale too, asking price- around $200,000. These guys want $659,000.00 for their place.

I’ve bought and built or sold fifteen properties in my day. My realistic assessment? $290,000 to 325,000.00, tops, and it’ll take about nine months to sell. They’ve overbuilt for the neighborhood. It’s like putting up a mansion in the South Bronx. Ah well, you just can’t tell some people. Happy Fourth of July, everyone, and thanks to all those who’ve kept our nation free. And idiots like Rush Limbaugh and Michael Weiner of the Savage Nation aside, I hope my President, and by extension my country, succeeds. May whatever you believe in bless you all.