One thing I've learned, working nights and sleeping days is that, if there is anything in this world that shows that our Lord is a merciful God, it is the invention of foam-rubber ear plugs.
You haven't seen them? In my case, they are a floruescent pink, shaped like little bells, or Chrismas tree ornaments. To use them, you twist and squeeze them between your thumb and fore-finger, then insert them (yes) into your ear, where the foam expands to fill the space - and never mind those who tell you not to insert anything smaller than your elbow into that cavity.
A simple technology, they nevertheless do an excellent job, blocking out the sounds of filthy day-timers wandering in the hall and that kid upstairs who sometimes likes to run back and forth, back and forth, over my tired little head.
Chet, for some reason, has developed a taste - almost an obsession - with them. It took a while for my to realize it, what with their occasional propensity to fall out of one's ear while sleeping. And you know how little things can disappear among one's sheets or drop off the bed and bounce into the darkest, deepest spot beneath it!
But one morning some months ago, I didn't wake up, I was awoken! There was ... something ... tugging at the plug in one of my ears. Chet. The little bastard wasn't waiting for it to fall out, he wanted it now!
I don't know what he likes about them; I don't imagine that foam rubber would taste good to me. Maybe it's like chewing gum to him. At any rate, he eats them. I know this, because they pass right through him; I've found far more than one of them while cleaning out his litter box.
Anyway, today, he saw me take them out. He approached my outstretched hand, tail twitching, hunched low to the bed. I was lying there, still groggy, with my left hand close, resting against the wall (he hadn't noticed me slip the plugs under my pillow). He watched my hand with a hunter's intensity, and a cat's small spasms of concentrated excitement, then reached out and batted my hand, as if to force open my palm. I let my fingers open up, like a flower in the morning sun.
He batted me again, as if he could not believe what was before his eyes: no foam rubber. I opened and closed my hand, then opened it again, so he could not fail to understand the truth: no snacks for you, buddy!
And so the day begins. Contrary to my morning vows, I doubt I'll be going out tonight. Instead - I know! - I'll hang out here at home, maybe play on the computer, maybe - hah! - do some writing. With luck, I'll get to sleep at an hour that will allow me to arise around noon. And </i>tomorrow</i> I will step out into the world. And drink.