Thursday, November 5, 2009

Things that go jingle in the night

Yesterday was one of the long ones, and by the time we got home from Shakespeare class, all I could think was, "Pajamas. Robe. Slippers. Now." And since we got home from class at five o'clock, you probably need no other explanation of how wiped out I was.

Luckily, dinner last night was Mexican Chili, which is delicious, kind of festive, and very easy to prepare. I highly recommend it for those nights when you feel like I did, which, let's face it, is not an uncommon way for middle-aged moms to feel at the end of a super-hectic day. *ahem* I posted the recipe for it (along with my traditional chili recipe) back on February 13, 2008, if you'd like to take a peek.

Ten o'clock p.m. found me trudging upstairs, brushing my teeth and falling into bed like a felled oak approximately fifteen minutes later. I did kiss the girls goodnight, and I drowsily wished my husband a good night's sleep, but other than that, I don't even remember when he turned the light off.

I awoke at two o'clock in the morning to the sound of Hershey's furious barking downstairs. I jerked into an immediate state of high-alert because last week, a group of Halloween vandals gleefully made its way through our quiet neighborhood in the wee hours, slashing tires on cars. It was a trick that offered no treat whatsoever, since the two new tires we had to buy wound up costing $150. Naturally, when I heard Hershey raising the welkins from his crate, I figured that the pranksters were back.

"Honey," I said, nudging my sleeping husband. "Hershey's going crazy downstairs. Do you think those tire-slashers are back?"

He was already awake. "That's what I was just wondering," he said grimly, and flung back the blankets. He ran down the stairs, leaving me in the bedroom alone, listening intently, with the bedcovers pulled up to my chin.

The next thing I knew, I was clinging to the ceiling fixture, gasping in terror. Right next to the bed, right there near my innocent and unwary head, a chorus of jingle bells began clamoring. I began having flashbacks to movies I injudiciously watched as a high school and college student: Poltergeist, The Amityville Horror, The Exorcist, Prancer.... It wasn't until the jingling sound made a wet, snuffling sneeze and that unmistakable flappy-eared shake that I realized that my ghost was actually Wimzie, a canine Houdini, who had apparently gone AWOL from her cage, thus raising Hershey's protest in a volley of tattle-tale barks. Her rabies vaccination and ID tags jangling together are a familiar sound during daylight hours (and often the way we know if she's trying to plunder used tissues out of the downstairs bathroom's wastebasket), but in the middle of the night, they have a much more sinister sound.

I regained my ability to draw breath as my husband returned to our room. "I went outside and looked around," he said. "but no one was there. Both the cars are fine. Nobody was lurking around the neighbors' cars either, so it must have been a false alarm. Maybe Hershey had a nightmare."

"It wasn't a false alarm," I said drily. "I have the criminal right here."

My husband switched on his bedside light and observed Wimzie, who was by then standing with her paws up on my side of the bed so that I could scratch her ears.

"Oh. Hello, there, you felonious mutt."

Wimzie had the grace to look sheepish.

"C'mere. You can't stay up here. You'll drive us crazy with those tags."

Naturally, Wimzie had to assert her supposed authority; she tried to crawl under the bed, forgetting, as she always does, that she's small enough to be hauled up from the floor and tucked comfortably under an arm. My husband caught her before she could creep to the middle, where she would have undoubtedly crouched, peering wickedly out at us and jingling her tags every thirty seconds. He scooped her up and she grrrred at him unpleasantly.

"Shut up," he told her. "No Snaussages tomorrow, jailbird. Back to the slammer with you."

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