Courtyard by Marriott, Dublin, Ohio, 10PM December 31…

“Are you falling asleep?” asked the scantily clothed beauty.
“Not at all,” I lied. “Do you want to play gin?”

A photomontage of the day passed before me: the early “study hall” at Starbucks, breakfast with the boys and a half day in the office had all proceeded our trip down south. Still, even ‘though Carrie did the driving, didn’t I have a right to be tired? I mean, c’mon…physical specimen that I am, I’m just not a kid anymore. And besides, since hitting Columbus hadn’t we spent time together, then hours at the casino …. not to mention the Chinese food in bed? So what if it’s New Year’s Eve?

“You can go to sleep if you want,” she offered.

I really didn’t want to sleep, but God, the clock wasn’t moving! And besides —what more did we have to accomplish? It had been a day of passion and poker and frankly, if it wasn’t the last day of the year, we’d be down to Seinfeld and snooze.

“Not a chance!” I proclaimed, rising (if you’ll excuse the expression) to the occasion.

11 PM, at the same motel…

One thing about Carrie: she’s always willing to engage in me in conversations others might roll eyes at — ‘though she often rejects my suggestions.

“Don’t you think the television’s in the wrong spot…based on the way our bed’s facing?”

(Her silence deterred me not).

“I think we should move the bed and turn it ninety degrees,” I continued. “Either that or we should sleep with our heads the other way.”

“We can’t do that!” she objected, giving me somewhat the same look she’d shot when I’d suggested putting a urinal in one of the bathrooms at her new house. (I mean, really: if she truly wants separate restrooms in the condo…so she can have her “powder room” or whatever … why might I not install a wall unit, as such, which would not only be a convenience, but also serve to preclude receipt of the frequent “Please aim” admonitions?).

Our conversation, needless to say moved on. Indeed, the ensuing half hour brought the best of our banter. Never in our near thirty months have we suffered dead air; this time was no different. From her kids to mine … her mom to my aunt, her shtick or mine, the next minutes brought love, laughter, and finally repose…

“You know,” I pointed out, “If we’re not staying up until 1AM our time then it really doesn’t matter when I call Stacy. It still won’t be New Years where she is.”

— So called her, at 11:35, told her I loved her, and hung up.

“And I’ll text H and Margie,” I reasoned. “They might be sleeping.”

“And I’ll call Helen now. ‘Might as well knock her down.”

My aunt (of course) didn’t answer. Half the time she doesn’t hear the phone before ten or so rings, but this night I figured she’d either be perched by the phone or just plain asleep. Twenty times I counted, before hanging up.

We were sitting on the bed now, feet hanging over the right side…actually facing the screen. Ten minutes we had, and a bag of popcorn to be shared.

“What does it mean ‘sea salt’”, I complained.
“Just eat it. It’s not as strong as Kosher salt.”

So we snacked and we watched … all the crap on TV.

I wasn’t in the mood for Kathy Griffin and can’t stand Anderson Cooper. Carrie likes everybody, but I had to break it to her (at 11:55) that Dick Clark was dead.

12:00 AM. Still facing the TV…

I kissed her for the first time this year and then called New York. Michael was in the car; our talk was short.  (I told him I loved him and hung up).

Within moments we had found the covers.

“We can sleep in tomorrow,” she observed as I ceded the remote control. The lights were off; I was already fading.

“Good night.”
“Good night.”

In the pitch dark of the room … o’er the backdrop of a “Friends” rerun … a few moments passed when from the sweet spot of semi-conscious, I felt Carrie’s nudge:

“Your aunt’s on my phone” she said, handing it over.                                                                                                                                                 “Hello, Aunt Helen,” I greeted.                                                                                                                                                                                           “Why would you not call me, Bruce.  You always call me!”

One Response to “IN THE MIDNIGHT HOUR”

Leave a Reply