Bedtime in the Forever Amber household

So, on Friday night Terry and I are getting ready for bed. I come out of the bathroom, only to find Terry standing at the bedroom window, scanning the street, and sniffing the air like a bloodhound. “Someone in the street’s having a party,” he told me, with an anxious look in his eyes. “But it’s OK! There’s no music! Just… shouting.”

Now, as regular readers will know, I have no tolerance whatsoever for noise, especially when I’m trying to sleep, hence Terry’s anxiety. “Christ,” he was probably thinking, “I’m going to have to listen to her rant about this for hours now. And then I’ll probably have to read her ranting about it again on her stupid blog.” He was only partly right, though, because I actually handled the news better than you would think. You see, I was absolutely exhausted. And while a thumping baseline would have driven me straight to Insanity City, I figured a bit of shouting was nothing I couldn’t block out with my earplugs.

But I was wrong.

Not twenty minutes later, Terry was back at the window. Because it wasn’t some neighbours having a party. No, it was a marauding gang of teenagers, moving up and down the street in a pack. And they were drunk. As skunks. (Why do people say that, by the way? DO skunks drink a lot? Because you never seem to see them buying booze?) You know the sound a crowd at a football match makes? It was like that, only worse. There were about twenty of them, and they’d obviously decided that the Best! Thing! Ever! to do on a Friday night would be to stand around my street, shouting at the tops of their voices.

This went on for at least an hour. The crowd would move from one end of the street to the other, always making sure to stay within our earshot. Then they’d move into the forest opposite the house – also within our earshot – and we’d think they were leaving, only for them all to crowd back out again five minutes later, like, “SURPRISE! It’s us, your drunken teenage friends!” They were so loud that there was no way to block out the sound. All we could do was lie there and listen to the screaming, and you know what? After the first forty minutes, some of the screaming was coming from ME.

Midnight turned to 1am, and still the pack was in action in the street. Terry was still pacing at the window. I was curled up in a ball on the bed, rocking back and forth and muttering, “Why, God, why? Why are you doing this to me? All I wanted was some sleeeeep!” Eventually, Terry snapped. “I’m going out there!” he announced, throwing off his dressing gown dramatically. “NOOOOOO!” I shrieked in horror. “They’re teenagers! They’ll kill you! And also… you’re not wearing anything under your dressing gown!”

Terry was adamant that he could face up to 20 teenagers, and they’d be so terrified they all run straight home to mummy. I was adamant that this would not be happening. So Terry did the next best thing. Throwing open the window, he leaned out and shouted at the top of his voice:

“HEY! YOU LOT! WOULD YOU SHUT THE $%&^^& UP!”

And… nothing. Because the gang were making so much noise themselves that Terry was totally drowned out. He had no choice but to slink back to bed defeated and join me in wondering what we could possibly have done in a past life to justify being tortured like this. Eventually, though,  after another twenty minutes or so of yelling, the teenagers melted away into the night. Silence reigned. Except it didn’t, because no sooner had we settled down to FINALLY get to sleep, but:

“WUFF!”

Rubin had slept soundly throughout the shouting (he sleeps on the other side of the house), but apparently now the silence had awakened him. And was annoying him. We gave it a few minutes to see if he’d settle down.

“WUFF!”

Another few minutes, in case he was just jerkin’ us.

“WUFF!”

With a deep sigh, Terry got up and went to see if Rubin needed to go out. Rubin, however, had other plans. Skillfully evading Terry, he ran at top speed through to the bedroom, and hid under the bed. And he would. not. come. out. Normally the words, “Do you want to go out?” are enough to send Rubin careering downstairs, to slam his body against the back door in excitement. Not this time. No, this time Rubin didn’t WANT to go out. This time, Rubin wanted to sleep in The Big Basket. And he was gonna. Accepting defeat on this issue, and also accepting that it was now approaching 2am, Terry coaxed him out from underneath the bed, and placed him on top of it, where Rubin proceeded to get absolutely hysterical with excitement. “OMG, AMBER!” he seemed to say. “OMG! TERRY! SO EXCITING! SO! EXCITING!”

Usually if Rubin is permitted to sleep in The Big Basket, he will settle down after a minute or so and go straight to sleep. Not this time. This time the hysteria went on, and on, and on, with Rubin trying to lick both our faces repeatedly, and lying down only to jump straight back up and start up the hysteria again. Eventually, however, he found a area of the bed that was to his liking (it was the area my legs normally occupy, but by then I’d have let him sleep on my head if it meant actually getting some sleep), and we all FINALLY settled down to sleep.

Silence reigned for five minutes.

Then Rubin stood up, jumped off the bed and came to place his paws on the edge of it, next to my face. “I need to go out, now,” he said. AAARRGH!

By this point, a headache had settled itself behind my right eye, and was steadily drilling into my brain. There was no way I was budging. “Terry,” I said. “I don’t feel well. I have a really sore head. I think it’s a brain tumour. Also, Rubin needs to go out.”

So poor Terry got up once more and opened the bedroom door. “Come on then, Rubin,” he said resignedly. “Let’s go out.”

“Let’s not,” said Rubin. “Let’s hide under the bed again!”

And he did.

Terry tried to bribe him with everything, but nope, Rubin was not for moving. “Leave him,” I muttered, my hand clamped over my throbbing head. “Just let him sleep there if he wants. He’ll make a nest out of my dressing gown and he’ll be fine. And we’ll get some sleep.”

Terry got back into bed. Silence descended. I was just drifting off to sleep, when:

“HIIIIIIIIIIII!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” Rubin was back at the side of the bed, his face thrust into mine. “LET’S PLAY!” said Rubin. “PLAY! PLAY! PLAY!” I reached out to pick him up and place him on the bed…

… and he ran and hid underneath it.

GAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

I decided to ignore this move and let him sleep there if he wanted. He’d only been sleeping (or doing whatever else he was doing under there) for a few minutes, however, when he suddenly let out a high pitched shriek: the kind of noise dogs make if something has hurt them. This was the third such shriek Rubin had made that day: first, while on his walk and rummaging through undergrowth, he had jumped back and yelped. Then later, while jumping onto the couch, he’d done it again. Both times, I’d examined him, but been unable to find out what was wrong, or why he’d yelped, and he’d seemed perfectly fine, so I’d forgotten about it. And now he’d yelped again.

Well, I reached down and picked him up (And he HAD made a nest out of my dressing gown, by the way) and got him onto the bed. Terry checked him over, but couldn’t find anything wrong with him, so we let him lie down at the bottom of the bed and – wonder of wonders! – this time he actually went to sleep! Aaaaah! Peace!

Or not.

3am came. I was WIDE AWAKE. My head felt like someone was drilling through my eye. And my brain WOULD NOT STOP TALKING TO ME.

“Hi, Amber!” my brain said. “‘S’up? I was just thinking… that was some strange behaviour from Rubin tonight, wasn’t it? He doesn’t normally act like that at bedtime, does he? And you know, he was kinda quiet tonight, don’t you think? Like, when you and Terry were watching TV, and dogs came on, he only got up to stare at the screen a few times.  The rest of the time he just lay there with his nose between his paws. He looked a bit depressed to me, actually. And what was with all of the yelping? Seems like something is wrong with him. I bet something is wrong with him! OMG! What could it be! It sounds like something REALLY SERIOUS!”

By now I was even more wide awake. I nudged Rubin’s sleeping form with my toe, which he happened to be lying on at the time. He didn’t move. I nudged him again. Nothing. Oh my God! He was dead! He was surely dead! I raised my foot up in the air, with his body draped over it, and… Rubin woke up and stared at me like I was a lunatic. “PLAY?” he said. Whoops. I lowered him, and tried to settle down.

“Hi, Amber!” said my brain. “I wouldn’t be convinced by that little performance, by the way. I mean, can YOU see him breathing?”

I raised myself up on my elbow and looked at Rubin. Sure enough, his sides weren’t moving. I leaned closer.

“HE. IS. FINE.” hissed Terry, from beside me. “For God’ sake, go to sleep.”

So I lay back down, but by now my head was absolutely THROBBING. The room was stuffy, and Rubin was lying on my legs, so I got up and opened the window. When I came back to the bed, Rubin was lying in my space, so I squeezed myself into the small area he’d left me, and lay down.

“Hi Amber!” said my brain. “SO! Wonder what the sore head’s all about? Pretty painful, no? Remember that migraine you had last week? That was the second one this month. Been a long time since you had two migraines in a month. Probably not ACTUALLY a migraine, then. Probably a brain tumour. Actually? DEFINITELY a brain tumour.”

“Shut up, brain,” I said. “Is not a brain tumour. Have spoken to doctor about migraines. He said not tumour, just crazy.”

Twenty minutes passed, during which Terry and Rubin sunk into blissful, deep sleeps, and I almost fell off my small corner of the bed.

“HI!” said my brain. “You know how you have that appointment with the optician tomorrow? For your contact lens checkup? Well, two things about that: 1) when he shines those lights into your eyes, he is totally going to see a tumour lurking behind one. Probably the right one. 2) Man, you’re going to feel like CRAP tomorrow if you don’t get some sleep. Look! It’s light outside!”

And it WAS light outside. And I DID feel like crap. I guess I must have slept at some point, because when I woke up, Rubin was next to my head, and I don’t remember how he got there, but it was one of those nights where I felt like I just lay awake ALL NIGHT. When I finally decided to give sleep up as a bad job and got up, my headache was even worse than it had been the night before. It took two large coffees, two paracetamol and two ibuprofen to get me out the door. I went to my optician’s appointment, and discovered that I did NOT have a brain tumour. Or not one that was detectable to an eye doctor, anyway, although it’s amazing he could see ANYTHING in my eyes given how bloodshot they were.

As for Rubin… well, Rubin had some other surprises in store for us that day,  but that, my friends, is another story for another time…

[To be continued…]

26 Comments

  • Selina says:

    I thought I had it bad on Saturday night when the people down the back from us had a party that apparently involved standing around outside in the freezing cold talking in Really Loud Voices for hours on end, with small parties of them leaving at half hour intervals which meant walking up the long driveway which runs right past our bedroom window all the while talking in Really Loud Voices. But at least I didn't have a multiple personality Wolf to deal with!

    Can't wait to hear what surprises Rubin had in store for you!

  • Toni says:

    Oh Lord, that all sounds so familiar – I always find I get really obsessive when I'm tired. I've also been known to deliberately wake our cats up, and then insist that we open a can of tuna (always guaranteed to send them crazy) to see if they have a "normal" reaction to it. I sympathise hugely!

    (Oh, and people who make noise at that time of night should be shot. Maybe not fatally, but nevertheless, shot. No exceptions.)

    • Terry says:

      Rubber bullets maybe? :)

    • Cristina says:

      The neighbours who live across the street from me do this all. the. time. Since I live on a very narrow street I get severely tempted to egg their house from my lounge room window (No weapons stronger than that in this house, sorry). I'm quite sure I could get away with it, from their viewpoint the eggs could have come from any of the dozen or so identical flats on this side of the street. I have yet to go through with it though….

  • lila says:

    I have had the odd night like this, its especially worse when you have something on the next night, you can never sleep, but the noise has NOT gone on for hours and there was never any dog involved..so I can just say..OMG poor you and Terry and BAD Rubin..and I do hope you got some sleep last night

  • cookie says:

    I live next to a park where a lot of teenagers gather around on the weekends, and it has by now become completely routine for the police to come and shoo them away around midnight. Perhaps calling the police next time might be a good idea?

    And the only time I had one of our dogs yelp like that was when he had trouble with his back, so maybe it wouldn't be bad to have Rubin taken to the vet. Just to be on the safe side :/

    • Amber says:

      We've called the police a few times now over stuff like this, and they're not remotely interested, and normally sound annoyed that you're calling them. They just say they don't have enough staff to send someone out, and I know other people who've had the same reaction from them, so it's not even worth the phone call: you either have to risk going out yourself (which no one is prepared to do) or you put up with it, unfortunately. They're planning to reduce police staff even further this year, too, which is worrying.

      The "Rubin Goes to the Vet" post is the "To be Continued" part of the story :)

      • Rock Hyrax says:

        Will your council do anything, or do they only come out if the noise is associated with a particular address? Not that it makes much difference either way, and the police will only ever be interested if blood is being spilt.

        I completely sympathise about the nagging brain thing – hope all is well with Rubin – perhaps if he has something minor like the doggy version of a touch of rotator-cuff syndrome or something then he hasn't been as active as usual and that's the cause of his night-time wakefulness…

        • Amber says:

          The council will come out, but only if you can give them the exact address the noise is coming from, and even then, they come to YOUR house to analyse the level of disturbance to you, which would be more disruption in the middle of the night than the noise itself! In this case, though, as it was a gang wandering about the street, they'd consider it a job for the police… who would consider it of no importance whatsoever! I think a curfew on teenagers and banning the sale of alcohol in places where live football is being broadcast is the only answer :)

  • Sal says:

    I hate nights when you get no sleep. Completely sucks. I live near a bus stop, so there are some nights of the year when we have loud groups being loud all through the neighbourhood.

    Hope you get some sleep tonight!

  • ilexica says:

    My cats do this. Often. (Although we have three, so they usually take it in turns to whistle through the bedroom door and lodge themselves under the bed, there to make inexplicable scratching noises all night until they decide they've had enough and want to sleep on our faces instead. We call this trick catmageddon). The other night one of them was sick at 1am and I convinced myself he was dying – primarily because he Has Form in this department having only just been released from the cat hospital after eating a Surf liquitab – and I set my alarm every two hours throughout the night to go check he was still breathing. Every time I went into the spare bedroom and switched on the light, the other two started blearily winking at me with a 'what the holy hell are you doing here, mad woman?' expression on their faces. When even your cats think you're overreacting, it's a bad sign.

  • Laura says:

    We have a patterdale terrier at home, only 2 years old and the most hyperactive dog you could meet. Thankfully he likes to sleep in the utility room in his own cubby hole, so no midnight-wandering but I know exactly what you mean about excitement about being allowed on the bed. Once he tried to jump on my sister's bed, flew over it and crashed into the radiator on the other side of the room. Thankfully he's literally as tough as old boots. Oh, he snores too.

  • Steph says:

    You have my very great sympathy, I've been *there* before! Last night I was kept up for ages by my dad's TV, then by next-door's TV which was loud enough that I could hear it even though they're on the wrong side of the house, then just as all was quiet, I developed a crippling migraine and lay awake convinced it was not just a migraine but a sign that I was going completely blind. On the plus side, I am definitely not completely blind. On the down side, if anyone so much as whispers tonight, I am going to pull off my own arm and hit them with it.

  • Leslie says:

    And they wonder why people turn into homicidal maniacs.

  • Arlene says:

    I love Rubin! Such a tinker!

    Teddy does this look, it's a real look of concern (if a dog can do such a thing). Cracks me up, it seriously looks like he's trying to tell me a boy has fallen down a well.

  • Chloe says:

    On Friday I was kept awake ALL NIGHT by a couple who live in the same block of flats as me having a huge row. I was not happy!

  • Minka says:

    My God, you are THE best story teller – ever! It's 2AM where I am right now and I'm sitting in my room alone wiping tears from my eyes, cause I haven't laughed so hard in hours, maybe even days. :)) Thanks for making my day, or, rather, night.

  • depy says:

    I 'm glad you 're back Amber.I really love your stories

  • Nina says:

    Aww you poor things! Hope you feel better soon!!

  • Karen says:

    Awww, I hope Rubin's OK, and I hope you get to take a good nap today or something.

    My dog's been crying too, and she has to go tomorrow for a muscle biopsy under general anesthesia to see what's wrong. I hope Rubin has something easier to diagnose & treat. :(

  • Nikki G says:

    Ugh. What a terrible night! At least you don't have a tumor.:-) I hope everything is ok with Rubin.

  • Ellen says:

    I'm glad you're posting on here again This really made me laugh ^-^.

  • Georgia says:

    This made me laugh so much.

    Glad to see you blogging again, I missed the Forever Amber humour!

  • Delaney says:

    I'm just like that about sleep–it has to be dead silent or I can't sleep at all. Monday night there was a group of rowdy college students screaming their lungs out in the apartment pool. I wanted to open up my window and yell at them…

    I must be cursed with supersonic hearing, though, because I can hear everything, even through earplugs. My boyfriend goes to bed much later than I do, and usually I have to get out of bed and tell him to turn down his television a few times before I can sleep. When I go into the living room, I realize that the television is at a perfectly reasonable volume and normal people shouldn't be able to hear it with earplugs in while sleeping in another room!

  • KC says:

    Amber, I'm glad you're back to blogging as I've missed your posts. I don't have any pets but I can relate to the insomnia. Lately, I've been having loads of trouble sleeping on Sunday nights as I dread going into work on Mondays and have been extremely stressed out–time to find a new job perhaps! I used to have some annoying neighbors that I could hear when they were chatting and drinking on their patio when my windows were open but the solution was to keep the windows closed–and hurray, they moved away recently!

  • Selina says:

    Shoot the noisy buggers with tranquilizers I say

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