Suddenly, Mom came over to me and said in a low voice with a worried tone, "You will make sure your father gets up in time, won't you?"
See, there always has to be a catch with these things. Just when everything's going smoothly, and you think, "Ah, yes, great, everything's ready to go, and they're off, and it's nothing to do with me," something like this happens.
The taxi would be arriving at four fifteen AM. That meant that, assuming Dad had done all his packing the previous night (which he had assured me he would), he would have to be up and out of bed no later than four AM. (That's four-o-fucking-clock-in-the-freakin'-mor
I think you see where I'm going with this. In order for me to be able to make sure that Dad was up at four AM, it meant that I would have to get up at quarter-to-four so that I could stumble down the stairs, blearily let the dog out, put a pot of coffee on, wait for it to finish, and then drink enough of it so that I would be able to say something coherent like, "Hey, Dad, time to get up" instead of (as would be the case pre-coffee at four AM) something like, "Bluh GAH in feister RUNAMUCKIN ... huh?"
Nevertheless, I am a devoted and dutiful daughter (plus, you don't want to mess with Mom when she's on her way to something like a cruise), and so I set my alarm for four AM. It probably bears noting at this time that my alarm clock is deliberately set to be 15 minutes fast. This allows me to set the alarm for the time I want to get up and still sleep in for 15 minutes. I'd always thought this was just a personal quirk, but I've since learned that at least two other people I know do this, so that makes it, as far as I'm concerned, perfectly normal. So there. And yes, if my friends jumped off a cliff I'd be right behind 'em with a parachute yelling, "WA-HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!" or, perhaps, "BOO-YAH!!!"
At any rate, Charlie sometimes asks, "What time is the alarm set for?" and when I tell him, he goes on to say, "Is that real time or 'Tina-Time?'" ("Tina-Time" being his affectionate way of referring to the artificially induced sleep-in interval.) Therefore, four AM "Tina-Time" is actually three forty-five real time. If I'd wanted to sleep in, I would have set it to 3:45, but I mean, Geez, who gets up at 3:45?
It was a bit of a tie which went off first: the alarm or the Border Collie who, for some reason, every so often goes through a phase where she absolutely, positively, MUST go out RIGHT NOW at a time between 3:30 and 4:30am. This would be easier to ignore if she didn't have such a loud and shrill bark. But I digress: suffice it to say that I got up, turned off the alarm, and stumbled down the stairs to blearily put the dog out, after which, I put a pot of coffee on and waited for it to finish. I sucked down quite a bit of the coffee, and went towards Dad's room to get him up, when amazingly enough, Dad met me on the way. He was not only up, he was fully dressed!
"Wow," I said, "I was just coming to make sure you were up!"
"Yeah, it's a good thing because actually my alarm didn't go off," he told me.*
I looked at him. "So ... how'd you get up, then? Did you just not really sleep last night?" (He had been musing over the possibility of staying up all night when I had talked to him the previous evening.)
"Well," he replied, "I actually did sleep, but I sort of woke up about every half hour or so, looked at the clock, figured it wasn't time to get up yet and went back to sleep until eventually after several half hours it turned out it was time to get up, so I went ahead and got up."
Between me, my alarm clock (with battery backup), the Border Collie, and Dad's semi-insomnia, it was like a belt, suspenders, an overhead crane and several sturdy steel rivets. So to speak. At any rate, it was four AM, Dad was up, and all was right with the world. Mom arrived right on time, and we waited while Dad did a last run-through to make sure he had everything and packed up his CPAP machine. ("Continuous Positive Airway Pressure." It's a thingy to make sure that he doesn't die of sleep apnea in his ... um ... sleep.)
The only thing that somewhat worried me was how he packed up his CPAP machine. That is to say, in his carry-on luggage. In a tote bag. That wouldn't zip due to being stuffed past the brim with, well, a CPAP machine. Prior to September 11™, this wouldn't have been an issue. However, under the watchful eye of Homeland Security®, I could see it becoming, shall we say, an "inconvenience."
You see, there's really not much to a CPAP machine, or at least, to the one Dad had packed. But you've just got to know that to one of those Security® people, it's going to be a Suspicious Item™. There's a somewhat heavy black box that looks as though it might contain some kind of electronics. There are a bunch of tube things. And some plastic things. And some straps, and a mask, and ... well, on the whole, you could hide a very large bomb in a CPAP machine. Not to mention the fact that you could garrote the flight attendants with the tubes and hoses and so forth. I mean, you're worried about a box cutter? Think about someone being choked to death with anti-sleep-apnea tubing and you've got something to REALLY worry about.
I helped Dad out to the taxi by carrying the CPAP machine and his suitcase. He and Mom got in, I nagged Dad to put his seatbelt on, told them I loved them, and waved goodbye.
Now, the original plan was for me to get up, get Dad up, see them off, then go back to bed. Unfortunately, I was now wired out of my mind, which begins to explain how I ended up sending the following message to someone on the BPAL forum at about 4:20 after she let me know she'd mailed me a vial of some perfume I'd been seeking for ages (Shill, for those of you who are interested in that sort of thing.):
Have I told you lately that I love you? I would totally marry you if I weren't already married. And ... well ... possibly the logistics would be a bit difficult, since I have no idea where you are, really. And then there's the whole "not letting people of the same sex get married" thing we have here in the US, which would kind of put a damper on it.
So, let's just agree that it ~sob~ was never meant to be, but we'll always have BPAL.
*wipes a tear*
I then went off and composed several equally silly and somewhat lengthy emails to various email penpals I have across the globe. I moderated everything I had to moderate on my own websites. I wrote a detailed cultural analysis of lesser-known government and bank holidays in the US to one of my friends in China who had never heard of our "Memorial Day." I cleaned the kitchen a bit, mopped the laundry room, read Terry Pratchett's "Maskerade," and created a spreadsheet to track and organize my perfume oils.
At this point, Charlie was up.
Since that time, I've been buzzing about the house, waiting for the inevitable phone call from Mom to tell me that they think Dad's medical device is a bomb and the cruise is off. So far, I've heard nothing, and their plane should have taken off two hours ago. I hope that no news is good news.
But they still have to get through Canadian customs ...
* It turned out later that despite the fact that we had discussed the dangers of accidentally setting his alarm clock for 3:50 PM instead of 3:50 AM, he had, in fact, set his alarm clock for 3:50 PM. I know this because when I finally crashed at about 3:30 PM or so on the futon in the living room, I was shortly woken up by Dad's alarm going off next door.