Valentine's Fail, or: Where to Sleep When You Don't Own a Doghouse

SLIGHTLY OFF THE MARK

            Yeah, so, I missed Valentine’s Day this year.

            On a totally unrelated note I’ve discovered it’s possible, and even advisable, to sleep in today’s smaller, more fuel efficient cars.

            Well, I didn’t totally miss it so much as I wasn’t as prepared as I’d planned to be. I had this thought of cleaning up the house and setting up a romantic dinner with candles, and low music playing, and even cooking a meal myself. That last could backfire, as a trip to the ER is rarely romantic.

            There are a few things I’m capable of cooking well, but they wouldn’t make up anyone’s idea of a romantic dinner: Macaroni and cheese, egg sandwiches, popcorn, mashed potatoes, and … actually, that’s about it. There are some other foods I’m capable of cooking, but not all that well: hamburgers, a roast, and anything that boasts the word “microwaveable” on the box. I can also make a stake. No, that’s not a
misspelling.

            The back seat of a car can be comfortable to sleep in, as long as you’re the type who likes to curl up, or maybe if you don’t mind hanging your feet out of a window. That’s inadvisable this time of year.

            That’s totally unconnected to Valentine’s Day, except that I should have put my fiancée into the car and driven her somewhere nice. I mean, really nice. I don’t go out to eat often; if it doesn’t have a drive-through, to me it’s a fancy place. Applebee’s is a formal affair.

            Women don’t see it that way. “Fancy” means someplace where they won’t let you in without a tie, and I haven’t seen a tie in my house since 1997. I think I used it to play tug-o-war with my daughter’s dog, and if I remember correctly it was last needed to anchor down my ladder while I was cleaning the gutters. The tie, not the dog.

            Also, did you know you can’t get a reservation fifteen minutes before arriving? At the restaurant, not the gutter. They actually laugh at you. They laugh. “It’s Valentine’s Day, and you want to walk in the door and be seated in half an hour? Ha ha. This is me, laughing.”

            The trick to sleeping in a car this time of year is staying warm. Now, if you work third shift like I do and sleep during the day, you can try parking the car in the sun and make use of natural heating, which works if there’s not much wind. Have something to cover your eyes. It also might be a good idea to bring a snack, in case you can’t get back inside the house.

            The drawback is, of course, concerned passers-by and curious police officers.

            You could also take an alarm with you. Once an hour, turn the engine on until the heater’s warmed up, get it so hot inside the car that your mustache melts off (not that I’m talking about me), then turn the car off and sleep until the cycle starts again. This is expensive, and doesn’t encourage good rest.

            I tried to sleep in a parking garage once, and discovered the whole building shook whenever vehicles passed overhead. I kept dreaming of earthquakes.

            Sometimes you can get yourself out of the proverbial doghouse with flowers or jewelry. This doesn’t work for my fiancée; she’s not a fan of either except for engagement rings, and I already got her one of those. You’d think her dismissal of shinies would be a good thing. It usually is, but it doesn’t help when the time comes for a quick gift, otherwise known as a desperate bribe. She loves books, but we’ve got so many books that I’ve been using them to insulate the car.

            Not that you need insulation if you learn my favorite technique for wintertime car sleeping: Simply park the car in the garage. Even if the building is unheated, having that dead air space around the car will help hold heat in. A comforter under you, along with another over you, a couple of blankets, a winter coat, gloves, stocking cap, two pillows, and an empty jug in case nature calls, and you can maintain body heat well enough to sleep comfortably. This also helps avoid those nasty surprises such as passing semis blowing their horns, which can suddenly negate the need for the empty jug.

            Or, you could just plan ahead for a romantic Valentine’s Day.

            I know what you’re thinking: But Mark, couldn’t you just sleep on the couch? Well, yes, but that opens you up to being kicked or doused with ice water by whatever annoyed female might be happening by. Or, worse case scenario, you could wake up with her pet snake crawling across your face.

            Not that I’m worried about that. She wouldn’t risk the snake.

            Just the same … I’m thinking Valentine Sea Cruise, next year. I might end up sleeping on deck, but it would be warmer.