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windsock

go ahead, caller

It was technically very early in the morning, but I didn't know that at the time, and anyway, it was early enough to still qualify as "the middle of the night" to anyone who keeps the old familiar diurnal schedule. Nicole got out of bed and started doing... something in the kitchen, or the living room, and there were a couple of unusual things about this: first, she's normally a pretty sound, solid sleeper that does not get out of bed in the middle of the night without a very good reason, and second, the cats had not, to my knowledge, provided that very good reason as they usually do.

Eventually she came back to bed and I asked her what was up—curious I was, but not curious enough to actually pry myself out of the bed and go find out, and besides, she wasn't gone that long and the sounds of movement from the other room didn't have any sort of frantic or distressed character to them—and she said that she thought she got a text message (i.e. she thought she heard the sound of her text message notification, and do you know that for the life of me, as many times as I've heard that thing, I cannot remember what it sounds like now) and so was looking for her phone. She is not one of those people, thank god, that has the sort of social life and/or friends that could and would be sending her text messages at (and here I squinted at the ten-plus-year-old LCD alarm clock on the nightstand) four-thirty in the morning, so whatever it was was probably important, albeit not important enough to actually place a phone call. Turns out the phone was, like, two feet away, on her computer desk. She looked and—oh, but of course—it's from my mom. Nicole had taken a photo of me and Gidget with her phone earlier in the day, and sent it to my mom, and this was evidently the reply.

This means that (a) my mom was up at 0330 CST sending text messages or (b) the network had fucked up in whatever way it might so that a text message sent at what some would say is a more reasonable hour only farted itself out of the pipe at 0430 EST. I thought about this later and admitted to myself that both scenarios are equally likely.

It was about at this point that various appendices to my central nervous system started getting faint if unjustified whiffs of morning coffee, and so the whole bladder/urethra assembly sent up a request that I get out of bed and do something about this teeming reservoir of urine they have been kind enough to hold back for me through the night. I replied that it certainly couldn't be more urgent than getting back to sleep and having the entire corpus refreshed and ready for the work week ahead, but no, I was informed that look, old man, we were doing you a favor by not informing you of the massive amount of dick pain involved in holding back this flood-tide, but that was a courtesy and optional and you are old and getting out of bed in the middle of the night to piss is what old people do, so suck it up, Matlock. So I did.

This had the unfortunate side effect of giving Spritle the impression that I was Out of Bed and Awake and Functional, i.e. that it was, despite the absurd hour, officially Morning, and Morning time is Breakfast time. Somewhere in his head, though, he must have realized that something wasn't quite right, so he didn't come into the bedroom and demand breakfast; instead, he just sort of wandered around the kitchen and hallway, sing-songing to himself, maybe thinking aloud about how good that breakfast would eventually be once I finally was awake (of course, I hadn't gotten back to sleep, nor would I for some time). Of course, this was also inappropriate feline behavior, so Nicole got out of bed and closed him up in the office. That worked fine for a while, until he started pushing against the door, trying to open it; he has seen us open doors for long enough to have worked out how it's done; in this house, the doors have handles that one has to pull down to open, and sure enough, he will stand on his hind legs and put his paws on a door handle and try to push the damned thing down, but he's not heavy enough and doesn't have enough leverage to pull it off.

The door to the office doesn't shut snug in its frame, though, so as he's doing this, the door is going thumpa-thumpa-thump, much in the same way it does in films when the murderer on the other side of the locked door simply refuses to accept that the door is locked, or realizes that that lock is just one of those flimsy doorknob locks and not a proper deadbolt and thus easily forced if one musters up enough vinegar, so to speak. So I get out of bed (Nicole and I, much like the parents of small children—which these cats essentially are, for Christ's sake—have a taking-turns arrangement for dealing with cat nonsense in the night) and wedge a pair of athletic shorts (which, being mine, have never once been worn in an athletic context) under the door as a sort of doorstop. Problem solved.

That would be the end of disruptions until my alarm clock went off, but here's the thing: from the time I got up to go piss until well after I jammed a pair of shorts under a door to silence the escape attempts of a clever little cat, I could not stop thinking about the Spin Doctors. Yes, that band from the 90s. I have no idea what reminded me of their existence on that first trip to the bathroom; I actually retraced my steps after I had officially Gotten Up to see if there was any sort of peculiar little visual cue that would have put into my head the phrase and/or concept of "spin doctors" or "two princes" or whatever, but no, it appears that the Spin Doctors climbed into the front seat of my conscious thought ex nihilo. And if you think that "Two Princes" song was baseline irritating, just imagine it—or at least the fifteen or twenty seconds everyone remembers of it—on a loop while you're trying to think about nothing so that you can go offline for a bit.

Then of course my thoughts wandered, as they do, to the fact that I actually genuinely liked, at the time, a lot of the 90s songs that are widely considered to be annoying and not-very-good, e.g. "What's Up" by 4 Non Blondes, which I have admitted to before. My tastes matured and I developed, I like to think, a sort of basic cultural awareness, but still, the fact is that even though I did not buy Pocket Full of Kryptonite or the "Two Princes" cassingle (yes, I did too buy cassingles. I bought them at Target; the last one I ever bought was "Sabotage" by Beastie Boys, which is a story in and of itself), I liked that song and I looked forward to the instances that it would pop up on MTV. But didn't Spin Doctors have another hit song? I could have sworn that they did; I seemed to remember—lying there in the dark, more or less resigned to the fact that my brain was going to just chew on this nonsense until it wore itself out—them having two inescapable hits at basically around the same time, and I seemed to remember liking them both, but I could not remember the name of that other hit or as much as a single word of its lyrics.

Somewhere around there, I must have crossed over into half-sleep, because then I started thinking about the fact that Spin Doctors are essentially cultural punching bags, now, avatars of a certain special sort of 90s shittiness, and how that's got to be sort of bitter and unpleasant in a way that's hard to turn into a positive; these fellows didn't seem like particularly bad people, and their music, in retrospect, seems too crummy in a janky art-school sort of way to have been crass commercial calculation. They probably really enjoyed being in this band and playing their music and having these little songs of theirs become hits; they probably thought it was neat that they were somehow making a living off of this. I seemed to remember the lead singer having the face of someone that probably goes to the renaissance fair and genuinely enjoys it. At this point my brain was getting extremely wobbly and sympathetic and I imagined that the liner notes to that hit breakthrough album of theirs saying something really earnest about how they just like to hang out together and have a good time. I still couldn't remember the name of their second hit and resolved to look it up when I woke up.

I would then forget to do this until it was too late; I allow myself between fifteen and twenty minutes in the morning to catch up with the internet goings-on while I have breakfast and such and I had straight-up forgotten to simply type "spin doctors" into Wikipedia and now that I had remembered that I had forgotten, the question of that unnamed second hit would nag at me until I could get back in front of a computer (i.e. until I got to work) and in the meantime, that same ubiquitous snippet of "Two Princes" would loop in my head as a reminder.

I looked it up about halfway through writing this, which seems to have exorcised the earworm. I see, too, that they had a song on the soundtrack to the awful Adam Sandler-produced (which is to say the same thing twice) movie Grandma's Boy, which is so much in line with my mental representation of what Spin Doctors represent, culturally, that it's barely even worth noting, except for the fact that that was kind of a recent movie and the fact that they are still recording new songs—to say nothing of having those songs seem culturally viable enough to appear in a movie that was, if not good, at least expensive—was a bit of a surprise, and that they just this last August released a 20th anniversary edition of Pocket Full of Kryptonite, which means that this song has had a tiny but indelible spot in my brain for twenty years, also that I am, as my bladder reminded me, old.

Comments

I was going to name the second single off that album, but I see you already tracked it down. I do own a cheap second hand copy of that album though as it happens, mainly for "Two Princes" as I don't think I've ever listened to the rest of the record all the way through. I have a peculiar tendency, as may have been noticed before, towards obsessing over and seeking out pop songs from my youth (i.e. the 90s). I think it's partly nostalgia and partly a response to realising the 90s were the last time I was properly connecting (however lamely) with mainstream contemporary culture. Which it just occurred to me now is basically a really smart-ass way of saying "nostalgia". After that I got heavy into prog and an ever-expanding cloud of weirdness and quietly got older than one has to be to properly identify with pop music
I've been thinking about nostalgia lately. I certainly have more to say on the subject than what follows, but I think I can boil it down to a couple of realizations:

1. Nostalgia is a physiological thing. I don't feel nostalgia for the [cultural input] of last year in the same way I do for that of, say, 1994, because my brain is literally a different thing. I'm not making memories in the same way.

2. What people who have an active use for the term call "fandom" is, I think, qualitatively inseparable from present-tense nostalgia.
When I spiral into a chain of shallow thoughts at three in the morning, I typically call it quits on any attempt to sleep because I know I've lost.

And, typically having to get up twice in the middle of the night, I know all about negotiating a little more sleep with your bladder and inevitably having to hoist yourself out of a warm bed and jostling the cats into action, etc. :I
I'm pretty conflicted about sleep. On the one hand, it's great and I love dreaming and waking up refreshed and I generally crave it and enjoy it in all the ways I'm biologically wired to. That said, I actually often resent it. You know damned well that the tension between time required to experience sensory arrays X-Z and free time available is one of the defining forces of my life, and something about spending waking hours at a job amongst strangers than I do in home pursuing aesthetic and psychic satisfaction really sticks in my throat, so even though I am, perhaps, physically less capable of pulling the late night/early morning turnaround, I still attempt it, more often than not, because I'm just that stubbornly determined to try and balance those scales.

And yet I've been getting up earlier and earlier, lately, because of the cats and because of my body and because I've always been an early morning person, at heart, and I'm really tempted to start getting out of bed and just staying up the first time I wake up, be it at 0430 or 0530 or whatever, and just reading or watching videos or something.

I don't know how that would affect my work days, though, and I'm nervous about finding out. I already usually nod off at least once during my lunch hour. :(