Sometimes it just boils down to simply one very long night's worth of thoughts. Should-have's, could have's and wish I could's.
Other times, it's because I am battling some philosophical question. Like the fate of mankind and how I can single-handedly change it. Or whether I could pee standing up.
One thing is always a given though. I really should be suspicious of any thought, plan or scheme I cook up when I'm not sleeping. That's because I often give birth to what I think at the time are brilliant strokes of genius that I act on impulsively and then inevitably regret.
Like the time I decided I could cut my own hair. It seemed like a good idea around three in the morning. I mean, why pay someone to do what I was convinced by sleeplessness I could easily do myself?
It seemed perfectly logical. Those people that waste so much of their time going to classes and getting a state license just to cut hair obviously lacked the creative abilities and natural talent I had.
How hard could it be, anyway?
I grabbed the giant, all purpose kitchen shears that I also used to cut chicken and the occasional two by four and headed off to the dimly lit bathroom in our military quarters in Germany. I could hardly wait to unleash my inner hair-cutting brilliance.
As I stood in front of the mirror, yawning and rubbing my eyes, I imagined the sort of reaction I'd receive when I was finished. Naturally all the women I knew would want me to cut their hair just like mine.
"It's stunning!" they'd all say. "Please, for the love of God, cut our hair, too!"
And of course, I would.
They'd be lined up outside my little townhouse for as far as the eye could see, when suddenly the evil cosmetology state board villains, absolutely green with envy, would show up at my front door and demand I stop practicing beauty without a license.
I'd fight them though! Fight them 'til my last breath! I could not in good conscience deny the world of my idiot-savant hair cutting ability.
I'd wind up testifying before congress in an effort to change the silly, antiquated law about going to school and taking tests in order to cut hair. Women would circulate petitions. Men of all ages would think I was the most beautiful woman on Earth and Jon Bon Jovi would ask me to marry him and his hair and we'd all live happily ever after in a giant castle in Hawaii.
Wait a minute. My fantasies are getting all jumbled up here. Scratch that last part.
As you can see, I tend to get a little carried away from time to time when my brain is deprived of sufficient REM sleep.
Long story short, I cut my own hair. How'd it look?
Have you ever seen that episode of COPS where this middle aged woman with no teeth, wearing nothing but a torn black tank top and great big Grandma panties is getting the snot beat out of her by her baby's Daddy while continually sucking on a cigarette so hard her cheeks look like they're touching on the inside of her mouth?
Yeah, well I should have let her cut my hair.
Sometimes though, when I'm alone and I can't sleep, it's just because I'm a big ole scaredey cat. Plain and simple. Even at my age and even after the countless nights I've spent alone, I still sometimes get a little nervous at night. (That whole "even after the countless nights I've spent alone" thing sounded a lot less pathetic in my head.)
Especially if I watch one of those A&E crime documentaries right before bed. You know the one. It's the story of how a perfectly lovely forty-year-old woman was found brutally murdered by the freckle-faced, love sick, check out boy from the grocery store.
I really can't sleep then.
I start thinking to myself, "Hey, I'm a perfectly lovely forty-year-old woman and maybe I was kind of rude to the kid that bagged my Chunky-Monkey the other day".
Next thing you know, I'm hearing noises outside in the bushes and burying all the kitchen knives in the cat's litter box so that murdering freak won't have such an easy time chopping me up into bitsy pieces.
However, through the years I have devised a clever two-part-plan that has proven to be effective at thwarting check out boys to whom I am rude. The evidence of how well it works is that I am still not dead. That's the first sign of a good plan.
I'll break it down for you right here so that you too can avoid murderous bagging boys.
Step one of my plan: Turn on every light in the house along with any flood lights you may have outside.
Murderers hate that. Think about it. You never hear a detective on one of those A&E shows mention that every single light in the house was on when they found the victim. That's proof enough for me.
Step two of my plan: Loudly talk to imaginary people.
It's also been scientifically proven (by me) that people looking to kill in cold blood don't like a crowd. If they think you're hanging out with your friends, they'll move on down the block and kill the weird old lady that eats dandelions... which is exactly what you want.
You can't have just any pretend conversation though. You have to have a very loud conversation and one that says to Bundy wannabes, "Move on, killer. This perfectly lovely forty-year-old woman is not home alone."
A few examples of things I have found to work particularly well are:
"Gee Brutus, I'm happy you broke out of prison tonight! I still can't believe how easily you killed that large group of Navy Seals using nothing but a tub of Betty Crocker Frosting and some string!"
"It's so nice to have a quiet evening at home, just sitting around with my friends the Hells Angels, cleaning our Uzi's and burning every light in the house."
Try it the next time you're afraid you're about to be burgled or murdered. Bet you wake up alive instead of dead.
Well, I'm actually starting to get a little sleepy now, so I should probably wind this up. I think if I don't sleep again tonight, maybe I'll finally be able to solve the age old question, "How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?".
Right off the top of my head, I'm gonna say three.
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