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Sunday, May 20, 2012

Re-runner: Cock-a-Doodle Don't!


I just woke up from a really great night's sleep. Hope you had one, too. But I thought I'd re-post this June 2009 piece about back when I didn't. The rooster's gone. I don't know what happened to it and I swear I didn't kill it. I wish I slept great every night, but I know I wouldn't appreciate it as much if I did as I do.


I don't miss that rooster even one little bit.



I haven’t enjoyed a really good night’s sleep since I first became ambitious about girls and having reckless fun far from the confines of the crib.

For many, many years my lack of sleep could be blamed on unwise decisions regarding liquor consumption and late night diversions.

Lately, those interests have diminished. I’m usually tucked away at 11 p.m. in time for the 110th viewing of a Seinfeld episode I first watched in 1996. After that, I close my eyes ever hopeful the next sound I hear will be Al Roker alerting me about what’s happening in our neck of the woods.

The full slumber never happens and I blame the rooster.

Understand, the rooster is not some metaphor for sleep deprivation. It’s not some spectral dream creature stalking me through the twilight. It’s a flesh and feather creature that nests just down the winding road from our home.

The rooster is my neighbor.

I hear it most every morning now at 4:30 a.m. Whomever coined the reveille onomatopoeia for this alarm clock bird never heard my neighbor. If they did it would be spelled -- oooock-a-oooodle-woo-wooooooooooo!

Or maybe my neighbor bird just has a speech impediment.

Either way, in farm vernacular, that bird’s a real cock.

If I lived in the city, I would understand the sound of gunfire is part of the background ambiance. Same goes for rooster crows if I lived in farm country. But we live amid a sparse cluster of homes in the mountain woods.

The rooster is owned by a dour German immigrant who apparently enjoys fresh eggs. Maybe a half a dozen chickens are clucking around the place. It’s jarring because the home is spiffy and looks sort of like the one Mike and Carol Brady raised their brood. And did The Brady Bunch ever do a rooster episode? It sounds like it might make for funny situational comedy.

Just not when it’s happening to you.

Each trumpet blast -- it’s piercing clear even through closed windows and about 500 feet of woods -- lasts about 12 seconds. Then there’s a peaceful lull of about 45 seconds where you can delude yourself into hoping maybe a pack of sleep-deprived coyotes are ripping the bird apart with their powerful jaws.

But that prayer goes unanswered. The shrill siren without fail returns and continues for hours to come. My wife and kids can sleep through it. But once I’m awake I start thinking about the meaning of life, how I could earn maybe a dollar, and why sometimes my tee shots rainbow to the right while others pull dead left.

My mind is just too restless to achieve sleep more than once a day. So I go to the couch and read or watch TV.

We even hear its raucous call in the afternoons. It made me wonder if it, too, is so sleep deprived that it can no longer function like a normal rooster. Really, 4:30 a.m. strikes me as awfully early for even a rooster.

I told a friend about it. He said, “Well, I once saw a chicken play tic-tac-toe at a county fair, but I doubt even one that won most of its games could adjust to the concept of daylight savings time.”

He was making a joke at my expense.

I’ve read all the nagging studies that say we’d all function better if we could get 8-10 hours of sleep each night.

That seems excessive. I think I’d be in tip top mental condition with about six hours a night. Ten hours of sleep isn’t going to make me any smarter. Don’t blame the potter for the inferior quality of the clay.

I suppose I could storm down there one day and confront the old German about the offending bird or make an example of the offending fowl by showing him how one neighbor keeps the peace in the rustic woods.

But I’m not that kind of guy. I don’t have that kind of angry nerve.

When it comes to those kinds of situations, I’m basically a common chicken.

I don’t feel too bad about it. The woods, at least where I live, are full of those.

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