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Sleep habits lead to wacky twilight zone

(ran PT SP HT CI TP editions)

I keep odd hours since I've been alone.

I remember thinking when I was a little kid being sent to bed when I was sure I wasn't at all sleepy that when I was a grown-up, I would be able to stay up all night if I wanted to. The charm of staying up all night wore off quickly after my first child was born. I found, walking the floor with a screaming infant at 3:30 in the morning, that I preferred sleeping at night.

I have never been a "morning person." It seems to me that the best way to spend a morning is sacked out. Of course, with children that was not one of my options. When my husband was alive, we kept a schedule, of sorts, by mutual agreement. But now, all on my own, I fall into peculiar patterns of waking and sleeping.

It often seems like a good idea to sleep after eating. I usually eat a meal in the early evening and then sometimes struggle to stay awake to watch something on the tube that sounds intriguing in the TV Guide description. So there I am in my recliner, feet up, full of linguini and clam sauce, eyes at half-mast, trying to take in the fascinating things George Page is telling me about the poison arrow frogs in the rain forest. I drift in and out, half hearing and seeing whatever is on.

Sometimes commercials penetrate the fog and provide me with interesting mental pictures. Eyes closed, I hear an ad for a popular hair restorer. There's a guy who is jubilant because he's growing new hair on the previously shiny top of his head. My half-slumbering brain provides a vivid image of a 6-foot-tall, animated Chia pet.

There's a toothpaste with baking soda in it. The ad tells me the name of the product, and my foggy perception turns it into Arm and Hamster. Now there's an image to consider! A brawny arm, the beefy hand clutching a terrified rodent. The hamster knows he's about to be used as an oral hygiene implement, a fate worse than death. Doesn't the Disembodied Arm know that hamsters don't make good toothbrushes? And is the Arm connected to something with teeth? Inquiring minds want to know.

Another one is the Toilet Duck. Do I really want to park my bum on a plumbing fixture that contains a mallard? I think not.

A paper towel commercial tells me that, not only is it quilted, but it's the Quicker Picker-Upper. Using a quilt to clean up the mess created by a demonic toddler who enjoys nothing more than flinging spaghetti seems a little excessive. Maybe it would be a better idea to throw the quilt over the toddler.

In my post-dinner stupor, the Picker-Upper is easily confused with the Pepper-Upper. When I'm a little more alert, I know that the Pepper-Upper is a soft drink. Even when I'm nodding, I know that this particular soft drink is mainly carbonated prune juice.

I surface briefly, just in time to learn that there is a laxative that contains natural fiber and won't cause gas. Images of Macy's Thanksgiving parade come to mind. Obviously, Bullwinkle didn't know about this wonderful product.

Drifting again, I wonder if I should drink some Pepper-Upper and take my quilt with me when I have my inevitable confrontation with the mallard.

Having drifted off before George Page explained the plight of the frogs in the rain forest, I am wide awake for the Infomercials. My Psychic Friends are eagerly waiting to give me winning Lotto numbers and tell me the best time and place to meet the man of my dreams. Little do they know that the man of my dreams is a bodyless, bulging Arm with a fluoride-toothpaste-festooned hamster in hand and a quilted prune juice bottle standing by, prepared to defend me from ducks in the plumbing and giant Chia pets.

I'm still puzzled by a recollection of Dave of Wendy's fame telling me that I can get a delicious Pita Pan Peanut Butta McCup with fries and a Coors Lite while having a muffler installed that has a lifetime warranty against mildew.

_ You can write to Sheila Stoll c/o Seniority, the Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731.

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