June 20, 2001
Wife Assignment


Wedding Anxiety Dream #8:

David has thrilling news.

"Our marriage license is here!" he shouts, waving a large manila envelope around in the air. "It just arrived in the mail, this very minute!"

Oh my god! I am SO EXCITED! This brings us one step closer to making things official!

Eagerly, I rip the envelope open and pull out the marriage license. Everything is there: the official TicTac government seal at the top of the page ... the legal mumbo jumbo ... the wedding date and location ... and, in elegant copperplate script at the bottom of the license, the groom's name ("David") and the bride's name ("Debbie").

Hold the phone.

"Who the fudk is 'Debbie'?" I snarl.

David looks at me in surprise. "Debbie is my Wife Assignment!" he says. "Don't you remember?" And he explains -- for the bazillionth time, judging from the tone of his voice -- that Debbie is the woman he has been 'assigned' to marry. He hasn't even met her yet: he'll be seeing her for the first time at the wedding. This doesn't mean, he hastens to reassure me, that he loves Debbie or plans to sleep with her or anything.

"You and I will still be able to live here together," he tells me soothingly. "We'll live here together, along with Debbie and with YOUR Wife Assignment."

'My' Wife Assignment? Why the hell am *I* being given a Wife Assignment?

David takes the marriage license out of my hands and squints at the fine print at the bottom. "According to this," he says, "your Wife Assignment is your first grade teacher, Mrs. Lehman."

I turn around, and -- sure enough -- there is Mrs. Lehman, standing right behind me, in her bun and her bifocals and her sensible shoes ... looking about a bazillion times older and knobbier and more gnarled than she did in 1964, if that's possible ... with a smile on her face ...

... and romance in her eyes.

End of Dream.

      *      *      *      *      *      *

The Wedding Anxiety Dreams have slowed down appreciably in recent weeks. (And when I do have a Wedding Anxiety Dream, it's invariably stoopid and inconsequential and evaporates almost instantly, the moment I wake up).

That's the good news.

The bad news is that I'm not having Wedding Anxiety Dreams ... because I'm not sleeping.

      *      *      *      *      *      *

  • 9:15 p.m.  Roz and Frasier are squabbling on TV  --  something about Roz hiring John Glenn to narrate her documentary instead of Frasier, with hilarious *comic results*  --  but I'm not paying attention. David is sitting at the computer, tinkering with his new message forum  --  I can hear his familiar 'clackety clackety' typing noises coming from the next room  --  but I'm not paying attention to him, either. I've been stuck on page 32 of "Dreamcatcher" for about fifteen minutes now, but all of a sudden I'm feeling sooo sleepy  ... our bed feels so soft and comfortable and inviting  ...  that I decide to turn off the reading light and close my eyes, 'just for a minute.'

  • 9:45 p.m.  I wake with a start. David is standing next to me, pulling books and shoes and guitar magazines off the middle of the bed and noisily tossing them onto the floor.

    "Oh!" he says when he sees me blinking blearily at him. "Did I wake you?"

  • 10:05 p.m.  After fifteen minutes or so of quiet pillow-chat  --  about the Tots, about the wedding plans, about this and that and the other thing  -- we exchange a tender goodnight kiss and roll over, back-to-back, feet touching, and begin the gentle tandem descent into sweet, sweet slumber.

  • 10:09 p.m.  David is laying flat on his back, mouth wide open, sawing logs like a McCulloch Electramac EM 250.

    I lay on my side of the bed and watch him with equal parts affection and exasperation. What else can I do? Since he dropped those thirty-five extra pounds, he really hasn't been snoring as much  --  not like he used to, anyway  --  but I can already tell that this is going to be one of the Bad Nights.

    I figure I have two choices: I can either spend the next eight hours jabbing him in the ribcage every ten minutes, trying to get him to roll over on his side again ... or else I can give up right now and go sleep on the sofa.

    I grab a blanket and a pillow and I head for the living room.

  • 12:21 a.m.  Those two cans of A&W Diet Cream Soda I had with dinner are finally catching up with me.

    I tiptoe past the bed on my way to the bathroom. David is still laying on his back, mouth wide open, sawing logs like a McCulloch Electramac EM 250.

    I take care of my business in the bathroom, snatch another pillow from my side of the bed and return to the living room sofa, where I plunge immediately into a jittery and jumpy half-sleep ... dreaming that my daughters are babies again, and that I'm bathing them in the kitchen sink of the Kirkland House, shampooing their fine baby hair with Palmolive Liquid.

  • 1:21 a.m.  Those six ounces of fat-free milk with my bedtime bowl of Special K are finally catching up with me.

    I tiptoe past the bed on my way to the bathroom. David is still laying on his back, mouth wide open, sawing logs like a McCulloch Electramac EM 250.

    I take care of my business in the bathroom, swallow a couple of Aleve with half a glass of water (to help beat back a little minor shoulder pain I'm been experiencing) and return to the living room sofa, where I plunge immediately into another fitful and feverish half-sleep ... dreaming that I am trying to call my office to tell them I'm going to be late coming in to work today, but the buttons on the phone keep disappearing and I can't make the call.

  • 4:01 a.m.  "You'd fudking better watch how you fudking talk to me!" a voice is screaming. "If you fudking think I'm going to fudking put up with your fudking ATTITUDE, you've got another fudking think coming! FUDK YOU!!!"

    I roll over on the sofa and blink in confusion. Am I dreaming? Please let me be dreaming.

    "Who the fudk do you think you ARE?!" the voice shrieks. "Do you fudking think you're too fudking GOOD for me? Is that it? Is that fudking IT??"

    I get up and peer cautiously out the living room window. In the pre-dawn light I can see a small dark sedan, parked just a few feet away from our apartment building: engine running, radio blaring, its occupants engaged in a furious verbal battle. (A ludicrously one-sided verbal battle, from the sounds of it, but a battle nonetheless.)


    I stand there at the window and consider my options. I can either 1.) yell at them to shut up (and then duck when they SHOOT me), 2.) call the police, or 3.) wake David and have him call the police.

    A polite little cough from the next room announces that David is already awake.

    "Are you hearing this?" I ask him, standing in the bedroom doorway. He is sitting up in bed. Yes, he says, he's been 'enjoying' the show for most of the past half hour.

    "You're sleeping on the sofa, aren't you?" he says sadly. "It's because I'm snoring, isn't it?"

    I say no, not really ... I'm just having a little shoulder pain again, is all, and the couch is firmer to sleep on. (Oh come on. You would have said the same thing if you were me.) I tell him that my shoulder is actually starting to feel a little better now, and I grab my blanket and pillow off the sofa and rejoin him in bed.

    We crack the bedroom window open a little more so we can listen to Fudk-You Guy.

  • 4:30 a.m. Upstairs Neighbor Guy's clock radio goes off, right on schedule ... our daily 4:30 a.m. dose of KSOL-AM, "A Taste of Tijuana for the Bay Area."  But surprise! This morning we're ALREADY AWAKE when it goes off!!

    Hahahahahaha, Upstairs Neighbor Guy! Somebody beat you to it today!!

  • 4:47 a.m.  "I need to take care of this, don't I?" David says.

    We're laying on top of the blankets with our feet entwined, listening to Fudk-You Guy rant and rave. ("If you fudking want me to fudking get out of your fudking car, you fudking bitch, you're gonna have to fudking KILL me! Fudk you! FUDK YOU!"

    Until now we've resisted calling the police, certain that the argument would be over any minute, but it's clearly not showing any signs of winding down. In fact, as we lay there listening, we hear the unmistakeable sound of an aluminum can popping open.

    "Yeah, I think you'd better do something," I tell him. Losing a little sleep is one thing. Allowing these idiots to get back on the road and kill somebody is another thing entirely.

    David goes out to the kitchen and calls the Alameda Police Department, requesting that they send a cruiser to investigate. He provides them with specific details about the location of the car, the occupants, the argument. "We believe they're drinking," he reports to the dispatcher. "It might be a good idea to get them off the road." And then he hangs up and comes back into the bedroom.

    "OK," he says. "Now this is getting fun."

  • 5:16 a.m.  Fudk-You Guy and his girlfriend start up their engine and drive away.

  • 5:17 a.m.  The crackerjack Alameda Police Department appears on the scene ... cruises silently past the front of our apartment building, once or twice ... and then disappears into what's left of the night.

    "Well," David says, "I guess that's that."

    And he wonders aloud whether we'll be able to fall asleep again, or whether we should just get up and ride our bikes for a while, until it's time to get ready for work.

  • 5:18 a.m.  David is laying flat on his back, mouth open, sawing logs like a McCulloch Electramac EM 250.

    I'm too jazzed to sleep now  --  plus I've got to get up and get ready for work in half an hour, anyway  --  so I curl up next to him and stare at the ceiling, planning my wardrobe for the next few days ... making mental grocery lists ... composing my half of the wedding vows in my head.

    Maybe I'll get up and write some e-mail or something.

  • 5:41 a.m.  I am enjoying the deepest, most proundly refreshing sleep of my entire life.

    It's like floating down a long, gentle river on an old rubber innertube, on a warm afternoon in the middle of summer vacation ... with the sun on your face, and your hands trailing languidly in the water, and birds singing in the eucalyptus trees lining the riverbanks ... and you, without a care or a trouble in the whole world.

    I don't know when I have ever felt this relaxed.

    Plus I'm having an interesting dream, all about returning to my childhood home and discovering that it wasn't torn down, after all ... that in fact it is exactly the way I remember it, right down to the white picket fence and the faded green living room sofa and Grandpa's vegetable garden, on the west side of the house next to the cedar tree ... and in a minute I'm going to go upstairs to my bedroom and listen to Donovan records and write about Kenny Robbins in my red and yellow plaid journal  ...

    ... but first I've got to go to the bathroom, because that half-glass of water I swallowed at 1:21 a.m. is finally catching up with me ...

  • 5:45 a.m.  I sit up in bed, blinking. I feel stiff and grumpy and exhausted. Another screwed-up night of non-sleep. Lately if it isn't one thing (Fudk-You Guy, Car Alarm Guy, dogs barking, David snoring) it's another (having to go to the goddamn bathroom every 45 minutes).

    I'm going to be a surly, sleep-deprived mess by the end of the week.

    On the other side of the bed David lays curled with his back towards me, burrowed beneath the blankets, sleeping peacefully ...

    ... not making a sound.

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