We Baby Boomers always laugh (or try to) at jokes about getting older. You know the jokes, I’m sure. They all start with “You know you’re getting old when…”

a) You feel bad in the morning – without having any fun the night before.

b) You resent the swimsuit issue of Sports Illustrated because there are fewer articles to read George Burns

c) You realize life is like a roll of toilet paper. The closer it gets to the end, the faster it goes. Andy Rooney                                                              

 d) Your back goes out more than you do. Phyllis Diller                                                  

I try not to think about growing old. “Old” doesn’t let me forget, however, and sometimes it has a witness. Such as my husband Dave. Just a few weeks ago, we took a trip to Ohio, spending the night in South Bend, Indiana along the way in order to visit Notre Dame (Go Irish!). We checked into a nice Holiday Inn Express. My kids had taught me to use a travel app in order to find good hotels at a less expensive price, so I wasn’t surprised when we went to our 3rd-floor room and there was a “handicapped accessible” sign next to the door. We were late checking in and I just assumed we got one of the last rooms available.

The large window had a translucent shade pulled down. There were no curtains to draw, but I didn’t think much of it because it was still a little light outside. But by the time we got ready for bed, it was obvious the shade was not room darkening. A big security light for the parking lot seemed to be shining right inside. Right where my face was turned as I lay on my side of the bed. I hopped up and began fumbling around the window area, searching for some way to darken the shade.

“What’s that switch next to the window?” Dave mumbled through his c-pap machine. I looked at it. It was like a light switch but with quite a few buttons on it. I tentatively flipped the top switch. Nothing. Then I poked one of the buttons. Again nothing. I tried another switch and two more buttons, but nothing happened.

“Must be something for the handicapped,” I guessed. The thought struck me that maybe I’d inadvertently called for help at the desk downstairs, but when no one came pounding on the door after a while to see if I needed help, I figured I was safe and should try to get some sleep. Dave offered to switch sides, but  I always sleep on my left side, and Dave sleeps on his right. I decided having a light in my eyes would be more easily tolerated than both of us snoring in each other’s face.                                                                                                                         

Why is it when you TRY to do something, the opposite happens? That happens a lot with me. I vow to start a diet. A few hours later, I’m eating stuff I’d never normally eat, and they aren’t diet-approved! The same for going to sleep, especially when I’m exhausted like I was at this hotel. The more I told myself to go to sleep, the wider awake I became. I tossed, turned, threw covers off, put them back on, grabbed a pillow and put it over my face, and even rummaged in my bathroom kit to find some Tylenol PM I’d tucked in. I took two and laid still for a whole two minutes.

I signed in despair. Dave woke up. He said my sigh was more like a cross between a growl and a snarl.

“Did you bring a sleeping mask?” he asked.

I always bring a sleeping mask – when I travel to Denmark in the summer because the sun never sets then. But no, I did not have a sleeping mask on this trip

“You should probably always pack one,” he pointed out. I glared at him as hard as I could between half-opened eyelids. He got up, went into the bathroom, and returned with a white dry washcloth.

“Here. Can you lay this on your eyes to block out the light?”

“How will I keep it on my face when I sleep on my side?” I whined.

He gallantly volunteered to unplug his machine, unwind the tube from the rails of the headboard and change sides, but I pointed out that I’d still be facing the light on my left side.

Dave halfway patted my arm and offered these words of advice, “Well, try to get some sleep, Honey.” And he immediately took his own advice.

I was left alone in the semi-darkness. Some of the lyrics from “Memories” popped into my mind. “Daylight – I must wait for the sunrise. I must think of a new life and I mustn’t give in. When the dawn comes, tonight will be a memory too. And a new day will begin.”

New day. What would I wear, my fuzzy mind wondered. Then my thoughts jumped to my clothes, which in turn jumped to the black socks I’d packed, and…

A few minutes later, I had an improvised black sleeping mask, courtesy of my black socks and safety pins from my suitcase. Woo-hoo! I clambered back into bed, tied the scarf around my eyes and knotted the ends. Total blackness. I laid my head down, sure that I would immediately fall asleep.

The safety-pins stayed fastened, but the slight bulge they caused against my temple was irritating. I sat up and swiveled the sock-scarf around until the bulky part was more toward the back of my head. I plopped my head down. OUCH! The knotted end was like a baseball and I’d just thrown my head against it. I cussed. Out loud. Real LOUD.

Dave pulled his c-pap off and rolled over.

“What’s the matter?” he asked. “What’s on your head?”

I didn’t even take off my mask.  If I had, I’m sure I’d have seen him either grinning at me or looking puzzled at my appearance.

 “I tried to pin my socks together, but I still can’t sleep,” I whimpered pathetically. I swiveled the scarf around the third time and laid my head on the pillow. The next thing I knew, it was morning. And the room was dark. Dave had played with the switches when he woke up and discovered that one of the ones I hadn’t touched unrolled a blackout shade down in front of the other.

Someday, maybe I’ll laugh at this. The 16-year-old me would have laughed my head off at an old lady who was too set in her ways to even try to Google how to operate the shade. The 67-year-old me had just naively thought it was something that came with the room and never dreamed of having an automatic shade.

I can only file this under “You Know You’re Old When…”

Or, come to think of it, maybe I should entitle this “What to Blame on Your Husband!” I mean, if he’d only tried the switch instead of letting me….Nah! Not gonna go there. This time anyway…


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