I found myself wide awake at 3:30 a.m. wondering where my hotel went. I had a hotel in my dream, and as I slowly rose to consciousness, it dissolved, and I spent the last part of my dream grinding my toes into the hallway carpet to try to restore its reality.
Then I realized where my hotel went. It disappeared along with my lovely, deep sleep, because Lula, our young female cat, was batting one of her jingly balls around the living room hardwood floor. I pulled myself out of bed, got on my hands and knees in the living room, and starting groping around in the dark, because it had not even occurred to me to turn on a lamp. My brain was only capable of thinking CAT + JINGLY BALL + 3:30 A.M. = NO FREAKING WAY. Eventually, one of my hands landed on Lula, and I used the other to pry the ball from her mouth.
"Shut up," I said.
Cat-wrangling is incredibly thirsty work, so by the time I had slaked my thirst and emptied my bladder, I was too awake to bother the Palinode with my falling asleep ritual, which involves much rolling from my front to my back repeatedly, pushing my pillows first up and then down and then up again, and rubbing my foot into the mattress. So, I instead sat down with my laptop in the living to catch up on some reading.
Jingle, jingle, jingle, BAM, jingle, jingle, bounce.
"LULA!" I hissed.
I grabbed a second jingly ball from her paws and put it next to the other one firmly wedged under my butt on the chair. A few short moments later: jingle, jingle, bounce, BAM, jingle, BAM. She had found another one.
"LULA!" I hissed.
Now I had a third jingly ball under my ass. It was 4:00 a.m. This replayed itself another two times, and, according to my calculations, this was nigh on impossible. I swear that we only had three of those jingly balls around this house, which I found yesterday when I rearranged the living room furniture.
I don't know if it was my lack of sleep that had me feeling so mighty and powerful over such a small situation, but I felt positively royal nesting those five jingly balls under my butt. Lula scaled the chair from behind and tried to sneak down my back. She scooted over the side of it and vainly tried to jab her little paws under my right butt cheek. She even tried the old dive-into-my-crotch tactic, but to no avail. I HAD ALL THE JINGLY BALLS, BITCH. She eventually sulked off to another chair and eyed me covertly, waiting for me to leave my seat. I was one step ahead of her, though. When I decided to head back to bed at 6:00 a.m., I jambed all the jingly balls down underneath the chair cushion.
I had just lied down and was finding my dream hotel again when I heard a tiny jingle under the bed. I squeezed my eyes shut and pulled the covers up around my ears. This could not possibly be happening. I had already retrieved more jingly balls than already existed in our apartment. Jingle. This was most definitely happening. Damn. She was trying to be sneaky about it, but she was right under my side of the mattress, so her sneaking was more like screaming "OH HEY I HAVE MADE ANOTHER JINGLY BALL", and then, all of a sudden, she completely lost her little kitty shit.
JINGLE JINGLE CLAWS-ON-HARDWOOD BAM JINGLE BOUNCE BOUNCE BAM CLAWS JINGLE JINGLE JINGLE. I shot up in bed.
"LULA!" I hissed.
"Mew," she said.
"Groan," went the Palinode.
I leapt on her in one hop from the mattress to the floor and grabbed the jingly ball from her mouth. This one was green. Hmmm. None of the others were green. This was a SIXTH jingly ball.
"You're a little piece of Satan, you know that?" I whispered to her as we both traipsed down the hall to the living room where I checked under the chair to make sure that she was, indeed, manufacturing jingly balls out of the ether.
I had the green one in hand and counted five under the chair cushion. That made six jingly balls. They don't even come in packages of six. They come in packages of five. FIVE.
Do you think I could go back to sleep after that? No, I could not. I just kept counting the jingly balls in my head - two purple, two pink, one yellow, and one green = six jingly balls - each time after which I would imagine Lula yelling "Six, six, SIX JINGLY BALLS! MWAH-HA-HA-HA!" à la the Count from Sesame Street.