BULLETIN! McSeas will be on the road for two months; don’t know what will become of this column during that time. But for now –
Lying quietly on my right side, gazing at the red glow of the clock (large numbers, another nod to my seniorhood), I saw that it was 2:27 this time. Hmmm, later than usual. Odd how you awaken with a false sense of being refreshed after only four and a half hours. You lie there trying not to wake up your partner. You favor the right side, so as not to increase the atrial flutter of your heartbeat. Strange but true, that pulse irregularities are worse when one lies on the left side.
Flirting with depression as once again you contemplate your own aging, proximity to death, your benign prostatic hypertrophy.
I know when this started (the insomnia, not the BPH; that came later). I remember one of the nights in the fall of ’88. We lived in a pleasant little apartment in the Los Feliz district of L.A., near Silverlake, having sold our house. We were preparing for our move to China. I was almost enjoying the balmy air of L.A. when the chuckles and gossipy tones of a black woman next door began to get in my ear. It was about 10:30 and I wanted things quiet.
Since the talking seemed to grow louder and I was growing more awake, I got up and shouted out the window to PLEASE BE QUIET! I was surprised by her instant, loud response, SHUT THE F— UP! I’LL. . . it trailed off into something like “talk all I want to.”
No fair. She knew she was safe. I imagined slapping a black woman’s face really hard (I’d never seen her; maybe she was as big as Mrs. Obama and would have intimidated me into not doing that) and that woke me up even more. Fight-or-flight hormones raging, I only slowly calmed down to sleep mode.

Now, 20 years later, noise is not the problem. Age is the problem.
Sometimes it seems that I can hear other old guys out there in the night, muttering and flapping their bed clothes and annoying their wives. Once, twice, three times a sullen walker to the bathroom  . . .
Maybe I should get up and call them. We could share awakeness stories. “Did I wake you up George?”
“Nah. I’m never asleep between 2:30 and 3. You know that or you wouldn’t have called. I was just lying there thinking about the Super Bowl game. I’m amazed at how much money they get for commercial space. Millions of dollars per minute!”
Or we could talk politics for a few minutes. That would put us to sleep.
We’ve reached an age when “nocturnal emission” doesn’t mean strange, exciting dreams; it means slipping quietly into the bathroom and trying not to wake anyone up.

This column was begun at 6 a.m., as I awoke very refreshed, having arisen only twice in the night. I got the ideas for the column just before 4 a.m.
Now I’m getting sleepy again. Maybe I’ll turn on the news downstairs so as not to awaken spousie. The lengthy news breaks on TV news shows ought to do it. Put me back into Dreamland. They’ve done it on many a mid-afternoon.
Another retirement day beckons. . .