Home Life Natural Living Laurie Nigro‘Don’t change the channel. I’m watching that,’ he said between snores.

Laurie Nigro
‘Don’t change the channel. I’m watching that,’ he said between snores.

Stock photo: Fotolia

I am constantly amazed at the male ability to nap. If you know a man past the age of birth, you have probably found him asleep, at one time or another, on the couch, in a chair, on the floor, under a table…or is that last one just me?

For the men in my life, it doesn’t take much to induce sleep. A moving car is a favorite. Within seconds of hitting the highway, I often need to turn up the volume on the radio to drown out the snoring coming from the passenger seat. It’s like motion narcolepsy. This is one of the reasons I don’t let him drive.

Of course, the mother of all sleep aids is the television. It doesn’t matter the subject. From a truly embarrassing series about aliens where the only acceptable reason for watching is that you fell asleep and woke up to find it playing, to a sporting event where cars spin round and round — with the entire purpose seemingly no more complex than to lull viewers to sleep, to a news program that is so ridiculously sensational that it can only be dealt with by sleeping through the entire broadcast, there is never a show that is not sleep-worthy.

When I was a kid, television was much more of a commodity. For instance, we only had one in our whole house. We were like cave people. There was no DVR or Netflix, no Hulu or On Demand. You watched your show when it was on and that was that. If you were lucky, you might catch a missed show when it was repeated during the summer. Because shows ran from September to June. There were no midseason series and certainly no summer series. That was crazy talk.

We ’70s babies cherished our shows and I was certainly no different. I had a bunch of favorites, a few more runners-up, and then those shows that I didn’t really want to watch, definitely would not admit to watching, but I watched anyway because there were not a lot of other choices and I wasn’t getting up off the couch to try and find a substitute. Because there was no “info” button. There was a TV Guide and that was like reading. Needless to say, the few good shows were cherished and revered.

This made visits from my Floridian grandparents less enjoyable than they may have been if my grandfather not been an avid golf fan. Why is golf even on television? How is it humanly possible to watch this sport, whilst listening to the hypnotic voice of the likely drugged announcer — and not want to sleep, kill someone, or become insane? I had actual nightmares about the Stepford Wives-like atmosphere surrounding the entire institution. Everyone in it was quiet, serious — with a creepy, vacant, smile — and devoid of a soul.

Golf was on the television on weekend afternoons — the same time that channel six aired a variety of low-quality monster-themed movies. I was the third child, and therefore, rarely got first dibs on programming choice. I was literally last in line. But on the weekends, my sisters drifted off, living life or something crazy like that. Most of those beautiful hours left me alone to develop a bizarre devotion to the horror genre. Satisfying this adoration was mostly unchecked. Until Grandpa came to town.

I feel like we were the only two people ever in the house during these visits. The television always played golf, no matter what. The house could probably have burned to the ground and the cleanup crew would have found the TV still on, quietly taunting me. Yet, there was not a single time, during any one of these visits, that my grandfather was actually awake during any part of these competitions. It was as predictable as the sun rising from the east. Grandpa would turn on the television, get comfortable on the couch, and immediately fall asleep. Not a light, fitful sleep, but a deep, mouth-agape, slumber. Every time, I would try to change the channel. And every time, he would shout, “I’m watching that!”

Clearly, he was watching it from some other dimension where his eyes were open and he wasn’t mouth breathing. I felt actual agony as the minutes slipped away and my beloved creature features slipped further and further from my grip while a man who claimed to love me sleep-watched an event so quietly torturous that it should be classified as illegal under the Geneva Convention.

As I got older, I learned that my grandfather was not at all unique and that sleep-tating was as popular as the sport itself. My husband and I watch TV one night per week. Saturdays are all we have. And I have learned that when my couch-dwelling husband goes from a sitting to a prone position, he is silently declaring his intent to sleep. I usually don’t mind, as after he fades off, there is no one left with more seniority. What to watch is left to me and me alone. (Of course, with the prevalence of multiple media options, my children barely even know how to turn the television on let alone have any desire to watch something with commercials, but let me have this one.) However, he has this super-annoying habit of waking up, while I’m in pre-bed preparation mode, and accusing me of trying to leave him behind. Like I’m sneaking off to bed, leaving him alone to…to what?

To sleep soundly? Why would he take such offense to being left to rest his weary head on a soft pillow, his entire self cushioned and supported? Is that a bad thing? What did I miss?

Furthermore, there is no basis in fact for this claim. Because women don’t just “go to bed.” As before mentioned, there is an entire pre-bed process. There are dogs to let out, dishes strewn about the house that requiring collecting and loading into the dishwasher so it can run through the night, shoes that I almost trip over that need to be put away, and jackets/sweatshirts/socks to be thrown at disobedient spawn who clearly think I was put on this earth to serve them.

I actually believe that my husband sometimes fake-sleeps, long after I’ve moved on from the couch, just so he can avoid any and all of these tedious chores. Then he simply rises, accuses me of some vague and undefined marital sin, brushes his teeth, and climbs into another cushioned and supporting receptacle, leaving me to clean muddy dog paws. There is not one time that I have left a sleeping husband on the couch and actually been ready for bed before him. Yet, I’m the bad guy here.

I sometimes pretend it’s a game, like Beat the Clock. I go about my nighttime routine as quiet as I can, hoping to finish before his sleep is disturbed. I don’t have any intention of “leaving him behind,” I just want to know what it feels like to get to bed first. I’m not aiming real high.

I doubt that will ever happen, but it’s nice to have a dream. Until then, I’ll try not to dissect my bizarre fondness for next-morning clean dishes or the fact that I find deep satisfaction is turning the kitchen light off at night, leaving behind a dark room, filled with the quiet whirring of the dishwasher. But hell hath no fury like a woman who wakes up to find spots on her glassware. Commercial rinse aids can be harmful to people and the environment, but The Environmental Working Group has given these three products an “A” grade: Ecover Rinse Aid (I’ve used this for years with great results), Nature Clean Rinse Agent and Seventh Generation Rinse Aid, Free & Clear
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Laurie Nigro, is the mother of two biological children and one husband. She also takes care of a menagerie of animals that leave throw-up around for her to step in in the middle of the night. Laurie’s passionate about frugal, natural living, which is a nice way of saying she’s a kombucha-brewing, incense-burning, foodie freak who tries really hard not to spend money on crap made by child laborers. You can hear her rant about her muse (aka husband) and other things that have no bearing on your life, in this space each Sunday.

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Laurie Nigro
Laurie is the mother of two biological children and one husband and the caretaker of a menagerie of animals. Laurie is passionate about frugal, natural living. She was recognized by the L.I. Press Club with a “best humor column” award in 2016. Email Laurie