To Sleep, Perchance to Dream..

-by Mark Pennington

Our bedroom is not fancy. In fact, most of our old furniture is from an old waterbed bedroom set we bought almost 30 years ago.  In the bedroom are many random items that seem pretty plain. There is a sewing table that closes up completely that my wife had to have for all her sewing stuff. Never mind the last time I saw her sew anything was probably 15 years ago. There is, on top of the chest of drawers that is 6 drawers high, a stack of paperback books. One of my big messes is that I have a lot of paperbacks scattered all around. But these are the latest ones just not added to a storage box somewhere. They are stacked 5-10 high up on the chest of drawers. Along with other odds and ends that are put up high because, as you know, we have bengals. On the end table by my wife, there is an alarm clock and various odds and ends associated with a 50-something woman. On my nightstand are my reading glasses, and one of those CPAP machines that I need for my sleep apnea condition. This includes a mask and a long hose so I can wear this ungainly and uncomfortable device while sleeping.

I tell this to you all, exposing myself as it were, to allow you to share in my amazement at Bengals and their endless ability to amuse themselves. And amuse themselves at times when you would rather they were not so amused. We have two kittens currently that are to be future queens in our program here. They are almost 4 months old right now. They are residing in our bedroom most of the time as of this writing. You would think after having had bengals as long as we have, we would know better. But we don’t. We are simply dense, perhaps senile due to raising three boys or maybe it’s the heat in Texas that has cooked our grey matter. We set these innocents loose in our bedroom, believing that there is nothing in there they can really hurt. We assumed if they were in there together they would wear each other out and be tired by the time we went to sleep. Reference the senility statement above when you say to yourself “why would you think they would wear each other out prior to you sleeping?”

As I try to paint this picture for you I have to give you various bits of personal information such as the fact that my wife normally goes to bed long before I do. I am an insomniac and retired, she can sleep through Armageddon and works for the Department of Defense and gets up early. What is amazing is that Bengals can drive anyone with either a sleep ability or disability to the edge of sanity and do so with a joy  and abandon that would baffle the Energizer Bunny. As an aside, the marketing folks for Energizer goofed by using a calm bunny. I am considering sending their advertising executive these kittens. How can two kittens that weigh, combined, probably 8 pounds become the definition of cantankerous?


I normally wonder into the bedroom at around 2am. When I go in the kittens are laying there very innocent appearing. I settle in so that I can read until I get sleepy. Now in the spirit of providing way too much information, I am very warm natured and get hot easy. So I sleep in boxer briefs. As I lay down the kittens wonder over and stretch and purr and basically lull me into a false sense of security and calm. I absently stroke their little spotted bellies and smile as I start reading. Currently it is the Brothers Karamazov, by Fyodor Dostoevsky. I mentioned that I’m insomniac so I try to read things that make you sleepy. As I slowly get into the rhythm of the Russian writing and wait for sleep to creep up on me, the kittens play innocently. Lightly bouncing around stopping on occasion in between my eyes and the iPad I am reading from. Aren’t they adorable, purring and rubbing against my hand? Finally after a few chapters describing the monk brother and his intolerable brother and their story I begin to drift off.

I reach over to grab the plug for the iPad and try to plug it in so that it will recharge, and Maggie May notices this from across the bed, suddenly bolts over and assaults the plug and its associated cord with wild abandon. After I shoo her away she makes a circuit around the bed at top Bengal kitten speed, leaps over me, bounces off the lamp shade as I am reaching to turn it off causing lamp to launch from the nightstand and ricochet off the wall and land on the floor with a loud crash. I’m awake. Glancing at my wife I notice she has slept through the racket. Apparently needing hearing aids early in life has a silver lining from her perspective. As I bend over to pick up the lamp, tangled in various cords, shade askew and various spare CPAP masks scattered about, the other kitten, Aries Rising attacks the tag on my boxer briefs. This causes me to suddenly stand bolt upright. Lamp in hand, multiple expletives uttered I look over and see two kittens sitting on the bed, where I was just seconds ago with eyes drooping as sleep was reaching to take me into its quiet comfort, cleaning each other quietly as if they had just woke from a long nap.

Since I am up anyway, I head into the bathroom to pee and am tripped as I try to go into the door by two speeding sets of spots. Slamming into the door and onto my knees on the hard tile I begin rethinking breeding cats as the cats launch over my head and back out the door in joyous chase. Why did they need to go into the door at the exact moment I did only to depart in two seconds? Sigh. Back to the bed, sitting down on the edge looking for the culprits I see and hear nothing. It’s really too late for me to start reading again to repeat the process so I reach over and slowly take the mask off the nightstand and put it on and start the machine. Glancing around and still seeing no feline, I lay back down on my left side with one leg under the cover and one leg out. I can’t go to sleep with the cover over me, I just get too hot. I do know enough to lay very still.

It was my own fault. I knew better than to create any reason for the girls to come back up on top of the bed. I am 50, its night, my wife is asleep. It is a natural body function and it was not that loud. Nonetheless, it was loud enough. Team terror tripped the light fantastic and returned with a flourish. And apparently, the cloth of my shorts is amusing. So begins a 20 minute wrestling match on and around my butt. This is a king sized bed, a rather large bedroom, two overstuffed recliners, a massive area under the bed full of dust bunnies, boxes and assorted lost items that rolled under there over time. And yet, my ass is where the action apparently is at. I think if I just stay still long enough they will leave and eventually they did leave my rear and moved to the back of my head where the tubing is for the mask I am wearing. And apparently this is the new joy toy of the moment, along with my ear. Well one can only stay still so long when you know those sharp teeth are more than capable of puncturing that hose enough  to make it unusable, along with my ear. So I picked them up and launched them, threw them right through the big plate glass window. Ok, not really, but I did think it. Don’t judge me. You would have thought that too.

Finally it seemed that they were just running laps around the room, up over and under the bed. I can sleep through that. I get to that place, just the moment before sleep, when 8 sets of claws launch off of a bare ribcage. That’s ok. I am patient. I try again. Almost asleep. With the loud announcement of a Mariachi Band, the damn cat turns on the clock radio by my wife. I get that sudden intense fright and sit bold upright as the Hispanic beat seeps into my conscious and I realize what caused my heart to almost arrest. Now, I can’t see without by reading glasses on, not a darn thing. And the radio is by my wife. I never ever turn it on or off. I can’t ever find the right stupid button to turn it on or off, even with glasses. All I can see is the kitten sitting on the radio, staring right at me. I am trying to hurry to turn off the radio, get up and start to rush over to the other side of the bed. My wife has only about 2 more hours of sleep, I don’t want her to be woke up. Two steps, I get two steps when the other kitten trips me and makes me stub my toe on the old cedar chest at the end of the bed just as my wife, without even waking up, turns the alarm off. As I limp back to my side of the bed and crawl back into bed, tearfully wishful of sleep, I see them both sitting on the cedar chest at the end of the bed. Watching me. And as I lay there thinking of possible kitten restraints I could patent, I hear them both leap to the top of the chest of drawers in order to knock off 6-10 paperback books that are able to each hit the tile floor flat on their sides making it sound like someone just opened fire. By now, I didn’t even flinch. I just tried not to be jealous of people with pet snakes.

Above the window that looks out over the pool, is a big shelf. On the shelf is a Koto. This is a Japanese musical instrument that looks like half a damn tree trunk with 13 long strings on it. It’s about 6’ long and 1’ wide. Heavy. The strings are strung very tightly, and a Bengal walking back and forth on it at 4am does not make music you would imagine hearing while sitting in a Zen garden in Japan.

15 spools of thread. Stolen by climbing under and up into the sewing table that’s closed up to prevent cats from getting inside it, make kitty land mines around a dark bedroom floor when not being used as hockey pucks that sound like rifle shots when smacked into the wall or door by slap shot making paws.

Sleepy now. Going to go out to the truck, turn on the AC and crawl in the back seat and take a nap.


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