I sat on an old wooden pew leftover from a Baptist church renovation. This thing was built for the masses without comfort in mind. Maybe the preacher hand requested the wood to be hard without any cushion in order to keep the congregation alive and breathing through the service.
The man at the front of the room talked so fast that one would ponder if he had some kind of superhuman powers. He never took a breath. He was shouting numbers and giving descriptives about items that were for sale. Some by owner and some by the house.
Local authorities were on stand by at the four way stop up the street because it never failed that some smart tail would wait til the last minute to bid on granny’s gravy urn. Then another would run the price up enormously high on an item they had no intention on buying. Tempers would flare, punches may be thrown and words that would make your momma’s face turn red would be shouted across the room.
Needless to say, in this one room volunteer fire department a lot was going on. People were shopping for Christmas presents, some were looking to turn a quick profit and others just enjoyed the rush of vying for the prize of outbidding the others. If you weren’t careful you may miss some of the “top ten moments” or in some cases “the not so top ten moments.”
Around bedtime near the intersection of Highway 84 and 123 in South Alabama a similar scene is playing out almost nightly. There is shouting, punches being thrown and tempers are flaring. If you aren’t careful you may miss some of America’s Most Funny Moments in our household. There is a lot going on in the blink of an eye.
Simultaneously, my daughter is singing “This little light of mine,” and baby she is belting out the words into a heavenly melody. While she is practicing for a future performance in the praise and worship choir at the local church, her brother thinks that every small detail of life is hysterically funny. He is laughing at the color of the sheets, the smell of the carpet after a fresh shampoo, or the sounds coming from underneath the bed. Soon, the girl is mad because her beautiful orchestra has been interrupted and here come the blows. Kicking, punching and gnarling. He surely will ruin her career in the country music business with his shenanigans.
Suddenly quiet comes over the room for a brief moment. Some kind of telepathic communication must’ve been going on because in sync they both start singing the “baby shark” song. Now they have joined forces against the evil man in charge who tries to make them obey the lights out hours provided by their mother. Did I mention she is asleep?
Next, we need purple Gatorade in our cup. Not blue, red, green, white or yellow, but purple. If there isn’t any purple Gatorade in the house there may as well be someone on a reconnaissance mission to the local Dollar General to retrieve some. There will be no sleep until there is a slither of purple Gatorade in that cup.
In the mix of all this, threats have been made. By now, they are a little more let’s say “stressed.” The girl cries frantically as if she has been suddenly stabbed by a porcupine in a nightmare of a situation. The boy now has reverted to bargaining, I will go to my room dad, but I’m still going to make these noises.
In transition from our bedroom to theirs, the screams and laughs have now awakened the beast of a GSP puppy we chose to love on. The only problem is he thinks someone is dying from all the commotion and starts to bark frantically in order to scare off any harm. The howling resembles that of a long night of karaoke at a place where you shouldn’t have been to start with.
After all that, those little eyes finally give in to the evils of the sleep monster and fade off into a mix of dreams and imagination.
When sleep seemed far from the realm of reality, I questioned what I could do differently. What might work more diligently? How might the night be longer? With drinking some magic potion or counting the sheep to sleep?
But as the sun appears on the horizon, those babies are wrapped up tight next to my body. One with his feet in my chest and the other with her hands running through my beard I think, “man this must be the closest thing to heaven on Earth.”