I pretty much wait all week for Sunday morning. Weekdays my wife and I both have to roll out of bed early for work, and Saturday mornings, my wife gets up at the crack of dawn to go running, so I have to crawl out of the sack early to avoid looking like a total bum. (Having your wife come home from a 10-mile slog in subzero temps and finding you still snoring away is a good way to ruin the rest of the day.)
But Sunday mornings, we sleep in, and whoever wakes up first goes downstairs to bring up coffee. Then we lie in bed and watch TV. Sometimes it’s a movie, other times it’s morning news shows. I don’t care, as the whole point is to stay in bed.
And now that all of the kids are off on their own, we’ve put even more effort into making our house our house again. We moved our bedroom downstairs to the second floor, where there’s actual heat, and my wife bought new bed linens, all white. For the first time in decades, our bedroom looks civilized, like someplace you’d want to lay your head. It’s kind of like a bed and breakfast where you make your own breakfast and clean up after yourself.
The only thing that gets in the way of any of this is Sophie. Sophie is a West Highland white terrier who seems to exist only to have her belly rubbed. She’s an affection junkie. You could pet her till all her fur came off, and she’d still be whimpering and pawing at you in a desperate plea for just a little more. Most mornings, as soon as she knows I’m up, she begins licking my forehead with big, gross tongue strokes she thinks are affectionate but make me throw up just a little in my mouth.
Sophie is all white — at least in theory. But at one end she has goopy black eyes and drooping blackish whiskers, and at the other end, well, she needs a lesson from those bears in the Charmin Ultra Strong ads. And because she’s low to the ground, she seems to collect mud and dirt. Every time she jumps up on our new white comforter, we cringe and try to direct her to a throw rug at the end of the bed.
But she doesn’t stay there. As soon as we go to sleep, she starts inching her way up the bed, one creepy skid mark at a time, slowly pushing me into a corner. Sometimes I wake up with a crick in my neck and the sound of dog breath in my ear.
Last Sunday the perfect storm hit. I spent the night curled up in the fetal position, trying to take advantage of what little space wife and Westie had left me. Both my arms fell asleep, and I was still deep in REM stage when my wife got out of bed, went downstairs, made two hot cups and came into the room, announcing “Coffee delivery!”
As she leaned over to hand me my cup, I woke with a start. I rolled over and discovered my arms were dead to the world. I tried to rub my eyes but just slapped myself in the forehead.
“Wait, wait!” I called out, trying to motion for her not to pass the coffee to my dead little T. rex arms. That woke Sophie, who jumped up to lick my wife, who was still trying not to spill the coffee on our fancy new linens.
As Sophie squirmed, her front paws caught in the gold chain around my wife’s neck. Her hands busy with coffee cups, she struggled to stay balanced with a Westie necklace. That’s when the coffee came flying through the air. My wife screamed in horror, I bellowed in anger and our brand-new white comforter was covered in coffee.
I wanted Sophie out of our almost-bed-and-breakfast-bedroom — not just for the morning but for the long haul. What’s the use of having a perfect bedroom if you have to play second fiddle to a small smelly animal? I wanted to kick her out but not just yet. She was doing such an excellent job of licking coffee off my face that I didn’t have the heart.
Peter McKay is a longtime Ben Avon resident and syndicated columnist. He can be reached at his website, www.peter-mckay.com.