We used to make fun of Pop when he fell asleep in the big, padded chair in the middle of "Perry Mason" or "The News with Max Roby" or just about any TV show that aired after 9 p.m.
After a hard day's work climbing utility poles and fixing things around the house, he finally got a chance to sit down. He would be watching TV, eating popcorn and talking to you when, all of a sudden, he'd check out. Eyes closed, head back. Once in a while, he even snored a little bit. Just for a few minutes.
Then we had to explain how Raymond Burr got the witness to break down on the stand and confess. Or if the weatherman said it was going to rain tomorrow.
It wasn't just in front of the TV. Pop could nod off for a few minutes at will, no matter how many kids were screaming and climbing over him. We took pictures of him asleep in the rocking chair with a grandbaby snuggled onto his chest. When he rocked the baby to sleep, he rocked himself to sleep, too.
He could nod off for a few minutes in the yard swing or even stretched out on the grass in the shade.
Every work day, he came home at noon for a quick lunch, then turned up Otto Schultz on WIBV, grabbed a can of Campbell's soup from the cupboard, stretched out on the basement floor, put the can under his head and sawed some logs. Everyone knew not to disturb Pop after lunch. He was out like a light for five minutes.
Motionless. Peaceful. Then he popped up and was ready to go again.
Pop was king of the cat nap. The sultan of snooze. The doctor of doze.
Apparently, I have inherited the quick-snooze gene. My family will tell you I can fall asleep any time, anywhere. It's not a medical condition. It's a gift.
It happens all the time with Cardinals games. Things will be rolling along for three, four innings -- no score with Adam Wainwright mowing them down and the Cards stranding a few on base. The next thing I know, it's the bottom of the seventh and the Redbirds have a 5-3 lead. My son gives me a quick rundown of the highlights and I'm right back in the game.
"Man, did you see that bomb Beltran hit in the fifth last night?" someone asks at work the next day.
"That was a monster blast," I'll say, with enthusiasm.
And it was. In my dreams. Thank goodness for highlight film.
It's a lot like the Moses thing in the Bible. As long as he kept his hand up holding the staff, the Israelites were smiting the heck out of Amalek and his army. As soon as he put down the staff, the Amelekites rallied.
When I fall asleep, the Cardinals score big time. Home runs are launched. Highlight reel catches are made. When I wake up, it's back to one-two-three innings.
Mike Matheny doesn't need a new pitcher. He just needs to buy me a La-Z-Boy.
Taking a catnap does have its perils in our house. I might wake up with a potato chip bag clip attached to my shirttail. I won't discover it until some little girl in the grocery store checkout line says, "Mommy, why does that man have a clip on his shirt?" I've also had a couple of fingernails painted, shaving cream squirted on my nose and my shoelaces tied together. Sleep can be such fun.
It's not just the TV that lulls me to sleep. I could drive for hundreds of miles on vacation. Sharp as a tack. As soon as my wife took the wheel ... zzzzzzzzzzz.
Once I slept through the entire state of Alabama. The long way.
More than once, my barber has caught me nodding off. It's so peaceful there. First, he sits you down in the most comfortable chair, padded in all the right places. He tucks you in with that sheet ... er ... barber's cape. The snip, snip, snip of the scissors. The droning buzz of the clippers. Fingers massaging your scalp. Zzzzzzzzz.
A warning, though, you can lose an eyebrow if you wake up too fast.
I've been known to fall asleep in the dentist's chair. In busy airports. On airplanes ... even before takeoff. During long speeches. Sermons. During the Academy Awards. Halfway through "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida." Any time Barbara Walters is on TV. Just before David Letterman's Top 10 List comes on -- which I stay up on purpose to watch. While rocking a baby to sleep. Reading a book. Reading new microwave operating instructions. On MetroLink. During any movie with sleep in the title: I was sleeping "While You Were Sleeping" and I definitely wasn't "Sleepless in Seattle."
Are you still with me? Or did you nod off during "the Moses thing?"
Like I said, it's a gift. Thanks, Pop.