I have always gone to bed with the TV on. From the first little black and white television with rabbit ears I got from Santa in the ’80s to the flat screen my husband and I have in our room now, I like being lulled to sleep by news anchors, late-night comics or whoever else happens to be on the tube when my head hits the pillow. I always turn the volume to low, and it’s really just the soft background noise and blinking lights that act as my electromagnetic Ambien.
I know sleep experts say this is the exact opposite of what your nighttime routine should look like to accomplish a “good night’s sleep,” but as long as I have this, I sleep well and get all the Zzzzzs I need, so those “experts” can go tell someone else to count sheep. On the flip side, if I don’t have this, I find it nearly impossible to fall and/or stay asleep. It’s misery! Who are you psychos who want to fall asleep in total silence and darkness?
I really can’t remember if my husband had the same nocturnal needs when we first met, but after nearly 12 years of marriage, he certainly does now. And we can agree on several types of “sleep programming.”
The first is insomnia’s panacea, PBS’s “Frontline,” which is excellent journalism, but also excellent at putting one out cold. Their narrator, Will Lyman, has such a perfect baritone, authoritative voice, it doesn’t matter if he is talking about jihadists, insurrectionists or Big Pharma drug dealers, sometimes I don’t even make it past the introduction before I am snoring. I actually have about six episodes saved on our TV when nothing else will work.
We also love sleeping to the tennis grand slams from other countries (French and Australian Opens and Wimbledon), which air live all night long because of time zone differences. The commentators’ voices are quiet and subdued and the sound of the ball bouncing back and forth is tranquilizing. The only time this doesn’t work is when you have a player — male or female — who grunts loudly, with each forehand or backhand, and then it’s time to reach for the remote. It’s like they don’t even care we are trying to sleep? Rude!
But “Frontline” has a relatively short season and there are only a handful of tennis slams, so then there are all those other nights to fill.
“How the Universe Works” on the Science Channel was our agreed-upon sleepytime jam for quite some time. If soft talk of space dust, supernovas and black holes can’t put you down for the count, I don’t know what can. I don’t know if they changed its time slot or what, but it fell off of our radar somehow.
And somewhere in this void of not having someone talk about space voids, our nighttime programming preferences diverged in a memory foam-covered wood, and it has made all the difference. And not in a good way.
Frank started leaning more heavily on the History Channel and some other crazy history channel, which peddles in conspiracy theories and obsesses over the Freemasons (and I am sure is frowned upon) but he’s not looking for content, just quiet talk. But that’s the problem. At some point during the night, during a replay of some battle somewhere, machine guns start erupting and grenades are practically being thrown in our bed. This does not work for me.
Frank is equally dissatisfied with the “murder porn” I have turned to over the years and rediscovered of late.
“How can you fall asleep to someone being bludgeoned to death?” he says … like this is somehow wrong.
I don’t know. Maybe the same way you go to sleep to “Hunting Hitler.”
Don’t judge me, freak.
My soft-core murder sleep porn is “Law & Order,” but only the original, not SVU or the one with annoyingly “quirky” Vincent D’Onofrio. Jerry Orbach and Sam Waterston both do a great job tucking me in at night, but it’s getting more difficult to find.
So, I’ve moved on to the harder stuff: “Forensic Files” and “Dateline.”
“Forensic Files” focuses on people murdered decades ago — almost always by their spouses, usually involving antifreeze or cyanide poisoning. Boring, or should I say, snoring?!?!? Much like “Frontline,” its strength is in its narrator’s hypnotic voice.
But “Dateline” is my top choice when I am kind of still awake and want to slowly ease into slumber.
Host Keith Morrison will get you all worked up with his dramatic intro, eyebrows raised, looking incredulous or like he just hid a turd under the front seat of your car.
His soliloquy always goes something like this …
“It was a picture-perfect Labor Day Monday in this tiny island town. A chorus of cicadas sang merrily as children ran to the local ice cream parlor for one last taste of summer. One last taste of innocence. Innocence that would be lost forevermore, once the beautiful young lifeguard, the all-American girl with blonde hair, golden skin and a dazzling smile, simply vanished. Taken as the waves do a child’s sandcastle at the end of a summer’s day. Some would say she ran off with the handsome young drifter … as young lovers sometimes do. But silence would turn to suspicion and soon everyone would realize something evil was lurking under the mangroves and magnolias.”
I’m always up for this part. Morrison makes it sound Shakespearean. Like Juliet has been murdered by her Romeo. Or vice versa. But then we usually find out it’s just your garden-variety redneck murder over someone banging a best friend, co-worker or carnie — or as Keith would describe it, a heart betrayed by the ones we keep closest. Ohhhh-kay.
By the time they start bringing the offender in for interrogation and rolling the grainy footage of the detective saying, “Let us help you. We know you did this. No one else could have,” I’m out.
But the only problem with watching the first part of a bunch of random “Datelines” and falling asleep in the middle, is you have a bunch of unsolved mysteries running around in your head.
I keep waking up in the middle of the night and wondering things like did the paramedic burn his wife up in her basement in upstate New York or was it accidental? Did the 6-foot-6 former basketball player who was a stunt double on the show “Remington Steele” really run away with the ex-lover he met at rehab or did her husband kill him?
And then I hear Keith Morrison say in his Keith Morrison voice, “Or was it something far more sinister?” But by this time, Keith has been replaced with Chuck Norris selling Total Gyms and I can’t find the answers. So then I’m up for another hour, as Keith would say, waiting for answers that would never come, hoping for the best, but knowing in my heart it’s probably the worst, wondering, could it be? Was it … murder?
Of course, it was, Keith.
I guess I’ll just have to see what those shady Freemasons are up to.
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