Saturday Single No. 255

As happens to some of us navigating the straits and shoals of middle age – I turned fifty-eight the other week, still uncertain where the time has gone and still not always recognizing the portly greybeard who greets me each morning in the mirror – I began having some trouble with sleeping a few years ago.

I’d get to sleep fine, usually around midnight, and most nights would sleep to the alarm at half past six. But every six weeks or so, I’d wake at about two in the morning, sleep done for the night. I’d read or putter on the computer for the rest of the night, only to find myself dragging and needing a long nap the following afternoon. I could live with the occasional sleepless night and sleepy day, but when those sleepless nights began clustering two or three at a time, I would become unpleasantly confused and irritable.

So I began taking the sleep aid Ambien. And it has been a sanity-saver. I am almost always able to go to sleep when I wish to, and I almost always sleep through the night. There is still the occasional night when sleep is elusive, but those are, thankfully, infrequent. What’s replaced the sleepless nights is the occasional adventure in the late night or early morning after I’ve taken my Ambien. (Technically, the drug has another name, as I currently take the generic version, but I’m calling it Ambien.)

Every once in a while, I’ll take my late-night pill and not go to bed as rapidly as I should. I’ll sit at my computer and play solitaire as the drug kicks in. And then I go online without really knowing that I do so. Friends and relatives have noticed occasional comments or statements on Facebook that suffer from odd syntax and creative spelling. And my Wisconsin pal, jb, who blogs at The Hits Just Keep On Comin’, has noticed. He told the Texas Gal and me over dinner during our most recent trip to Madison that our post-Ambien writings bring him great amusement.

Not long after that visit to Madison, I visited his blog late one night and left a cheerfully combative comment on one of his always interesting posts. When I saw the comment a few days later on my next visit to The Hits Just Keep On Comin’, I had no memory of it. And I began to wonder what else I do in my post-Ambien stupors.

I got part of the answer the other week: When I went to the kitchen one morning to put together a lunch for the Texas Gal as she got ready for work, I found minor disorder. There was a container of ranch dip – my favorite – open on the counter. Next to it sat a bowl of tortilla chips, soaked in some liquid. And a beer glass sat next to the chips and dip.

I looked around for more information. Near the stairway to the basement lay the table runner from the dining room and a woven burgundy placemat, both very damp. I was putting things together. It seemed a late-night snack had gone badly wrong. And sure enough, in the dining room a little bit later, there was still a small pool of spilled beer there. I had vague memories of taking a beer out of the refrigerator, but that’s all.

Fast forward to last evening. I recall taking my Ambien and considering what I might have for a midnight snack. I decided to clean out the carton of Schwan’s Dulce de Leche ice cream, a delicious caramel concoction. I did so and then headed off to the study to play solitaire.

This morning, there was a bowl on the counter holding bits and piece of tortilla chips. In the sink, washed clean, was a container that I last remember seeing in the refrigerator with a little bit of ranch dip in it. It seems that I not only cleaned out what was left of the dip during my early morning wanderings, but I neatly washed the container and set it in the sink with the dishes already there.

I saw no sign this morning of beer either sipped or spilled, which is good. It would be a shame to drink another good beer and have no memory of doing so.

Given all that, there’s only one tune for this morning’s listening: “Sleepwalk.” Santo & Johnny had a No. 1 hit with their version of the tune in 1959. And it’s today’s Saturday Single.


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