“The Sanded Down Moon in a Tar Paper Sky”

The thing about memories is they’re flat.  They’re like movies playing in our heads, two dimensional projections of moments from our past.

When you leave a part of your life behind, in your mind, that place stays constant and unchanging.  It remains forever as you last experienced it.  In reality we all know that’s not the case and the things we leave behind go on without us and change and evolve.

I left my job as an I.T. Manager in the Renal division of Baxter Healthcare more than three years ago.   When I look back at my days there, or try to imagine what my former co-workers are up to, I always go back to my office in the lowest level of the Renal building in McGaw Park, even though I know that Baxter has completely vacated and moved out of the McGaw Park campus, and the Renal division no longer exists, at least not as a separate entity.  All of that has happened without me, and as my memory recalls a place that no longer exists, so it is that I don’t exist in the world that has taken its place.

Memories of places are memories of people, too.  There are certain people who are part of the foundation of the worlds memories preserve.  Without these people, the place wouldn’t be the place.

Kathy C. was one such person.  She was on the periphery of my work, a member of the Quality Assurance department while I was a manager in I.T.  For thirteen years, her and I worked together, she making sure me and my team had followed all of the requirements and procedures for designing and developing validated systems, me asking her for guidance and interpretation.   Our relationship was often times adversarial and contentious, as she’d catch on to those instances where I tried to take shortcuts in the process, and other times where I’d argue that there was room for interpretation in certain steps, and that overly rigid adherence to the procedures only added unnecessary time and cost to the process.  Eventually, a mutual respect grew and deepened and a friendship developed.  We never completely buried the hatchet, as arguments would still ignite from time to time, but we knew and respected where the other was coming from; we knew each other well enough that we understood what made the other tick.  She learned that I wasn’t just a loose cannon looking to cheat and circumvent, and I learned that there was reason and intelligence behind her outwardly rigid façade.   Above all, we learned that each of us had a sense of humor, and we were able to make each other laugh.

I just found out that about a week ago, she passed away.  I didn’t even know she was sick.  Apparently, she’d been diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer in March.  That’s all I know, and I don’t know how accurate even that is.  I just know that she is dead, and that a part of the foundation of my memories of working at Baxter has crumbled.

I wish I had known.  I wish I could have talked to her one last time, that I could have told the story about the time I told her new boss that Kathy was the quality “pro to call” (which is a hysterical joke if you understand the nuts and bolts of developing a validated system) one last time,  and shared one last laugh.  I wish I’d had the opportunity to tell her how much I respected her.

But that’s the case with every death.   We bury the dead and with them all of our unarticulated wishes, all of the things we left unsaid.  And we bury a little piece of those worlds we inhabited together.

As I write this, I’ve got music on.  Lucinda Williams is singing a Randy Crowell song, and the lyric “the sanded down moon in a tar paper sky” echoes in my head.  Maybe that’s all that memories are.  Maybe that’s why they can make us ache like they do.  Time is sanding us down.  The night sky of our memories may as well be made of tar paper, because we can’t feel it, we can’t walk out into it and feel its dew on our bare feet.

All we can do is squint and look out into those misty worlds and find the people and places that were important to us, and if we look hard enough, we’ll see them as they were, and understand why they were important.   And that’s the thing – what was important to us once will be important again.

It’s important that we remember this.




On Facebook last night, I was presented with yet another link to one of those lists, this one the “greatest sentences in all of literature.” It was interesting, and lead me to compile a list of some of my personal favorite sentences or passages from literature.  I’m not as well read as I should be, as you will be able to tell from my selections, and these aren’t all the greatest sentences, some of them are just cool opening lines that have stuck with me, and others were passages I remembered liking that I had to look up to get right, while a handful of them I remembered verbatim. Anyway, this should make for a pleasant diversion from the usual drivel I post here.  I’d be interested in some favorite sentences or passages anyone reading this might have, so feel free to leave comments.   Here goes:

All this happened, more or less.  – Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse Five

I’ve wanted life to be easy for you. Easier’n ’twas for me. A man’s heart aches, seein’ his young uns face the world. Knowin’ they got to git their guts tore out, the way his was tore. I wanted to spare you, long as I could. I wanted you to frolic with your yearlin’. I knowed the lonesomeness he eased for you. But ever’ man’s lonesome. What’s he to do then? What’s he to do when he gits knocked down? Why, take it for his share and go on.   – Marjorie Kinan Rawlings, The Yearling (this passage was so important to me I built a key scene in my novel Ojibway Valley around it) 

I give you the mausoleum of all hope and desire…I give it to you not that you may remember time, but that you might forget it now and then for a moment and not spend all of your breath trying to conquer it. Because no battle is ever won he said. They are not even fought. The field only reveals to man his own folly and despair, and victory is an illusion of philosophers and fools. –  William Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury

“She would have been a good woman,” The Misfit said, “if it had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life”  – Flannery O’Connor, A Good Man is Hard to Find

Nick’s heart tightened as the trout moved.  He felt all the old feeling.  – Ernest Hemingway, Big Two Hearted River

 And as the moon rose higher the inessential houses began to melt away until gradually I became aware of the old island here that flowered once for Dutch sailors’ eyes—a fresh, green breast of the new world. Its vanished trees, the trees that had made way for Gatsby’s house, had once pandered in whispers to the last and greatest of all human dreams; for a transitory enchanted moment man must have held his breath in the presence of this continent, compelled into an æsthetic contemplation he neither understood nor desired, face to face for the last time in history with something commensurate to his capacity for wonder.

Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter—tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther. . . . And one fine morning——

So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.  – F.Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

I was a-trembling, because I’d got to decide, forever, betwixt two things, and I knowed it. I studied a minute, sort of holding my breath, and then says to myself: “All right then, I’ll go to hell”—and tore it up.   – Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

But we could hear her, because she began just after we came up out of the ditch, the sound that was not singing and not unsinging. “Who will do our washing now, Father?” I said.   –  William Faulkner, That Evening Sun

Rented a tent, rented a tent, rented a rented a rented a tent.  – Kurt Vonnegut, The Sirens of Titan

I stood by and held the door for him, and my best friend walked right past me, just like that, leading the way out and into the wet, wrecked night. – Patricia Ann McNair, Just Like That, from The Temple of Air

The light of a firefly is the size of a teardrop.  We cannot defeat the cosmic wind.  We are not magnificent.  But, by God, we try. – Michael Perry, Visiting Tom

I get the willies when I see closed doors.  – Joseph Heller, Something Happened

This was her, Mick Kelly, walking in the daytime and by herself at night. In the hot sun and in the dark with all the plans and feelings. This music was her—the real plain her. This music did not take a long time or a short time. It did not have anything to do with time going by at all. She sat with her arms around her legs, biting her salty knee very hard. The whole world was this symphony, and there was not enough of her to listen… Now that it was over there was only her heart beating like a rabbit and this terrible hurt. – Carson McCullers, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter 

It was a quiet morning, the town covered over with darkness and at ease in bed.  Summer gathered in the weather, the wind had the proper touch, the breathing of the world was long and warm and slow. You had only to rise, lean from your window, and know that this indeed was the first real time of freedom and living, this was the first morning of summer.  – Ray Bradbury, Dandelion Wine

There is an ecstasy that marks the summit of life, and beyond which life cannot rise. And such is the paradox of living, this ecstasy comes when one is most alive, and it comes as a complete forgetfulness that one is alive.
This ecstasy, this forgetfulness of living, comes to the artist, caught up and out of himself in a sheet of flame; it comes to the soldier, war-mad in a stricken field and refusing quarter; and it came to Buck, leading the pack, sounding the old wolf-cry, straining after the food that was alive and that fled swiftly before him through the moonlight.  – Jack London, The Call of the Wild

How wrong Emily Dickinson was!   Hope is not “the thing with feathers.”  The thing with feathers has turned out to be my nephew.  I must take him to a specialist in Zurich  –  Woody Allen, Selections From the Allen Notebooks


Story Time

“I write to make sense of the world” – Chris Deguire

“The job of the artist is to make the audience care about his obsessions” – Martin Scorsese

Hanging on the wall in my cabin are three photographs of me and the guys I used to play poker with.  We’d play every month on a Friday night, and once a year, the annual Wisconsin World Cup Poker Bowl would take place over a long weekend at my cabin and property in northern Wisconsin.  Over the course of the three and a half days, we’d drink, play poker, drink, fish, play poker, drink, ride ATVS, drink, play poker, see bears, drink, frequent local establishments, drink, play poker, walk around in the woods, drink, shoot clay pigeons, drink, and play poker.  We’d also drink and play poker.

That was a few years ago now, and most of us have gone our separate ways.  Although once or twice a year we still get together for a local poker night, the monthly games are gone, and the Wisconsin World Cup Poker Bowl hasn’t convened for a few years now.  But it sure was fun when it lasted, and every time I look at those photos a different memory returns, a different story, and I can’t help but smile.   The most recent photo, from one of the last of the Wisconsin World Cup Poker Bowls, shows us sitting at the picnic table outside of my cabin, with red plastic cups and near empty bottles of Maker’s Mark and Crown Royal and bottles of Rolling Rock, and big grins on everybody’s faces.  Looking at it now makes me remember the story of Russell the Unbluffable, or the story of the Italian moon over the city of Madison, Wisconsin, or the story of the bear that nearly caved in the locked front door, and it makes me think that had we been Cro-Magnons dwelling in caves in the south of France, the photographs would be drawings on the cave walls.  Looking at the photographs, I am struck by two things:  one, how little at least this group of men has advanced since their cave dwelling ancestors, and two, by how elemental story telling is and has always been to being human.

Story telling is what sets us apart from the animal kingdom.   It’s how we communicate, it’s how we relate, it’s how we connect with each other.  When our spouse gets home from work, the first thing we ask is, “how was your day?” In other words, “tell me the story about what happened to you today.”   In answering, we use all of the tools we’ve mastered over the years.   We use language, gestures, vocal inflections, rhetoric, exaggeration, understatement, humor and irony.

Why is telling stories so important to us humans?   I think there are many reasons, but the most obvious and primal reason is the knowledge of our own mortality.   We put stories down, whether ink on paper, paintbrush on canvas, whatever, as a means of reminding others that at this point in time, I was here, and this was important to me.   We have at our disposal the collected articulations and attempts to make sense of the universe and our place in it of all those who came before us, and as the universe and our world changes, art will be there to tell the stories of these changes and what they mean.  It’s vitally important to our continued survival as a species, and to our continued evolution as individual complex organisms.

A few years ago, when cell phones were still proliferating, they came out with the first models with cameras embedded in them.  I remember thinking, what a dumb idea, phones and cameras, it makes no sense.  Another example of what a brilliant cultural visionary I’ve always been.  It finally hit me when one night, at an after work function at a microbrewery in the northern Chicago suburbs, none other than Michael Jordan and a couple of his friends came in and sat at the table next to us.  Appropriately star struck, I eventually looked back at the rest of the crowded restaurant to see nearly everyone holding their phones up, snapping pictures , and it hit me.  They could call home and not just tell their families that they had seen Michael Jordan, they also had photographic proof.  It had to be similar to when the printed word was first developed and later the printing press.  Suddenly we had more than the oral tradition to record stories and hand them down and remember them.

Now, with the internet still relatively open and free, we are living in a golden age of expression.  Anybody with the motivation and where with all can post their stories on web pages, just like I do on this one.  Although this results in a tremendous amount of crap and drivel (this sight not excluded)to wade through, we should enjoy and treasure this brief period for as long as it lasts, as there is little doubt that once the powerful determine how to limit and censor these expressions they will.  Art and freedom of expression have always been in the crosshairs of those who wish to manipulate and control, of those who want to impose their will on us.  Every time you hear about a book being burned or banned you’re hearing an assault on the very essence of being a human being.

But no matter how much they try to control and limit us, corruption and cynicism will never triumph.  As long as men and women can draw a breath, they will tell stories, stories of love and truth and beauty, of justice and injustice, of hope and dreams, of  happiness and misery, of joy and agony, of moments stolen and preserved for all of time.  It’s how we’ve always responded in times of oppression and brutality. It’s what we do.  This is the story that all the trillions of stories told since the dawn of the human race combine to tell – that we are living and aware, and that each one of us matters.

Mea Culpa, But You’re an Idiot

When I was in junior high school, the movie that all the girls went gooey eyed over was a wretched piece of schmaltz called Love Story.   It starred the cutie pies of the day, the very young versions of Ryan O’Neal and Ali McGraw.  It was most famous for the insipidly bad line, spoken by McGraw, “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.”

I find it somehow satisfying that in the years since, O’Neal went on to become one of the biggest sleaze balls  in recorded history, a major cocaine and sex addict who, at his long-time partner Farrah Fawcett’s funeral, didn’t  recognize his own daughter, Tatum, as he made crude sexual advances toward her.  Oops.  An “I’m sorry” might have been called for at that time.

In order for apologies to be effective, they have to be sincere, and they have to be timely.  In 1995, Robert McNamara, Lyndon Johnson’s secretary of defense during the Vietnam War, publicly apologized for his part in plunging us deeper into that nightmare.  Given that it was about thirty years after the fact, and the enormous toll that war extracted from us in terms of lives lost and ruined and the damage to our collective psyche, an “I’m sorry” from one of the men most responsible comes across as too little too late, ineffective at best and insincere at worst.  If McNamara was worried about how he’d be remembered going forward, he’d have been better off just keeping his mouth shut and hoping he’d be forgotten.

There’s always a controversy whenever it’s suggested that we as a nation apologize to the many groups we’ve wronged over the years.  Whether it’s slavery, the internment of Japanese Americans during World War Two, the genocide of the indigenous Americans who were here first, or for taking “The Six Million Dollar Man” off the air, there’s a lot we have to apologize for.  There is value in formally recognizing the wrongs we’ve done and acknowledging our mistakes.  But like all apologies, they’re worthless unless they are sincere, unless they are accompanied by changes in behavior.

On a personal level, apologizing to someone for something you’ve done can be one of the most difficult things to do.  Admitting you were wrong, taking blame for your own actions, acknowledging the hurt you’ve caused, and serving time in a darkened prison cell with a demented ex-football player turned mass murderer named Leon, are never easy.    It can be just as difficult to accept an apology, because you have to let go of the pain and anguish that was caused to you and loudly sqauwk like a bird.

There are different forms of apologies.  The most simple, and the most sincere, are the two words, “I’m sorry.”  This is much preferred to the expression that somehow became popular in the past twenty years or so, “my bad.”  If someone says “my bad” to me, I’m always tempted to demand an apology for such a feeble attempt to apologize.

“I’m sorry” is actually only the beginning of an apology.  It has to be followed by an explanation, such as “I’m sorry.  I didn’t mean to cut your nose off with my weed whacker,” or, “my throwing you through a plate glass window was just an unfortunate accident.”   If these examples sound insincere, it’s because most apologies are insincere, and usually occur only after the apologist was caught doing something they shouldn’t have been doing. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to break into your safety deposit box and steal all of your valuable papers and scan them and post them on the internet.”

Then there are those apologies, like McNamara’s, that are motivated by a guilty conscience, and a desire for forgiveness.  These apologies usually end with the phrase “can you ever forgive me?” and put the pressure on the recipient of the apology.  For example, “I’m sorry I stole you car and kidnapped and lobotomized your wife so that she became my sex slave.  I was high on crack cocaine at the time.  Can you ever forgive me?”    If the offended party replies, “No!” he risks being perceived as shallow and insensitive and guilty of holding a grudge.

.Some of history’s most famous apologies:.

A very young George Washington to his father:  “Father, I cannot tell a lie. It was I who chopped down your Cherry Tree.  But it was little Tommy Jefferson who found your stash of Colonial Girls Gone Wild videos.”

The philosopher Socrates upon being sentenced to death:  “So you have deliberated and come to the conclusion that I must die.  Well, excuuuuuuse meeee!”

Nathan Hale prior to being hanged:  “My only regret is that I have but one life to give for my country.   If I had three or four, Hell, even two lives to give for my country, I’d be in heck of a better mood, and I probably wouldn’t have wet myself.”

Jesus of Nazareth, on the cross:  “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.  Besides, is it really that big of a deal if they put ketchup on a hot dog?”

President Bill Clinton on the Monica Lewinsky affair:  “My deepest regret is that as leader of the free world and the most powerful man on earth, I couldn’t do any better than Monica Lewinsky.   John F. Kennedy had Marilyn Monroe, for cripes sake!  I’ll try to do better in the future.”

A woman in a Chinese Laundry service:  “My husband, some hot shot.  Here’s his ancient Chinese secret …”

Beyond Belief

I am, by nature, a skeptic.  I like scientific proof of things.   This doesn’t mean that there aren’t fantastic  things I’d like to believe in.  For example, I’d love for bigfoot, or here in Wisconsin, the beast of Bray Road, to turn out to be real, that nature could keep such things secrets for so long.  The skeptic in me, of course, reminds me that the odds of there being such things are thousands to one.  I put my trust in math and science, and although it’d be cool to discover that sasquatches do actually exist, the skeptic in me says, “don’t be ridiculous.” Yesterday, the New York Times reported that two separate teams of NASA scientists have determined that the west Antarctica ice sheets are in irreversible decline, and that in the upcoming centuries, ocean levels are going to rise three to ten feet, putting millions of coastal residents in jeopardy.   The science is, if you read the papers, mature and indisputable.  Yet there are a large number of people who remain convinced that climate change and global warming are monumental hoaxes, part of a vast conspiracy perpetrated by the left.  These people choose to believe the nonsensical ravings of right wing radio hosts and ignore near unanimous scientific consensus. It’s always fascinating to talk to the extremists from both sides.  The ultra conservative, tea partiers repeat verbatim the gospel that is espoused over the air waves.  Global warming and climate change are conspiracies intended to stifle capitalism.  Big corporations need more tax relief because they are the “job creators,” yet recent history shows that successful corporations have consistently used tax breaks to eliminate or move jobs and line their officers’ pockets. Welfare cheaters and labor unions are to blame for our economic woes, even though the amount spent on welfare is a fraction compared to the amount paid to subsidize successful corporations, and labor unions have been weakened to the point of near inconsequence.   Perhaps the most bizarre and fractured logic is the belief that more guns make us safer, and don’t, as reason and statistics tell us, result  in more gun deaths. The left isn’t immune from ideological idiocy, either.   The political correctness it’s foisted upon society has resulted in a hyper sensitivity and ridiculous euphemistic language.  “Used cars” are now “pre-owned vehicles,” an “illegal alien” is an “undocumented worker,” “swamps” are “wet lands.” So people believe in whatever idiotic things they want to.  What’s the big deal?  Isn’t it their right?  Being stupid isn’t illegal.  It doesn’t hurt anybody if I believe in bigfoot, or trickledown economics or UFOs or any other such nonsense. Well, it usually doesn’t hurt anyone.  But then there are those instances of extremism that are just wrong, like the nut jobs of the Westbro Baptist Church protesting gay rights at the funerals of American soldiers, or the Sandy Hook “truther” who recently stole a memorial dedicated to one of the victims of the shooting, and then told the mother that her murdered daughter  never existed.  What could make a person so dedicated to and entrenched in their beliefs to behave in such a hurtful manner?  When does believing in something become fanaticism? There’s an older guy who comes to my door about once a month and discusses his beliefs as a Jehovah ’s Witness with me.  He’s a nice guy, and so are the people who come with him.  They are always pleasant and polite and respectful.  I try my best to be the same.  I explain to them that when it comes to religion, I am very much a skeptic, and they try to explain to me why I should believe. They hand me the latest issue of the Watchtower, their monthly publication, and read selected verses from the Bible.  I’ve explained to them that I don’t believe the Bible is the literal word of God, and that I think it was written by men, and they reply “It was written by men.  Forty men, to be exact, who were selected by God to put down his words.” Yesterday, on my front porch with the man and one of his fellow believers, I was in a slightly more argumentative mood than I usually am.  They began by telling me there is only one God to believe in, and that if you believe in false prophecies, you will pay the price.  The example they gave was the Heaven’s Gate cult that committed mass suicide in 1997, believing it was the mechanism for them to be granted access to a UFO that was flying in the wake of the comet Hale-Bopp. We then discussed the bible again.  They insist on a literal interpretation of the book.  I asked about Noah’s Ark, how did they get all the animal species in the world on the ark, how did they all fit, and what of animals in North America, which hadn’t been discovered yet.  They had answers for all of my questions and more, including why the lions didn’t eat the lambs on the ark – apparently God injected all of the creature’s brains with an infusion of tolerance that suspended the lions’ meat eating instincts, and that for the year on the Ark the lions, like all the other animals, ate straw.   I asked why did God cause the flood in the first place, and the answer was that he was so upset with man and the violence he perpetuated that he was going to kill all living things, save for those on the Ark.  I then asked, as logic would dictate, why God didn’t just infuse everybody’s brain with the same level of tolerance he infused the animals on the ark with, if he could make the lion and the lamb live in harmony, couldn’t he make all the people live in harmony.   I didn’t get a good answer on this one.  Then I asked, how old is the earth, and the one man confidently shot back, “between three and six thousand years.”  I left this one alone, sensing where the conversation would take us, and instead accepted the latest issue of the Watchtower and Awake! publications.  The man asked if it was okay if he stopped by again next month and I said, sure, feel free to. After they left, I thought about it and felt kind of bad about telling the guy he could come back.  He’s such a nice guy, and he’s completely sincere and honest in his beliefs.  The sad truth is that he will never convert me – to me, the ideas of two of each animal in the world boarding an Ark and that the world is only 6,000 years old are just as crazy as committing mass suicide to gain entry to a heaven-bound UFO  – and I’m not going to convert him to a more reasonable, scientific view of the universe.  The truth is, I have no desire to convert the man. He is polite, courteous, and carries himself with decency.  I have no doubt that he is a good man. So I continue to struggle with this one.  I know what I believe in and what I don’t.  That part is easy.  The difficult thing is what do I do with these beliefs?  Do I try to convince others?   How do I respect the different or conflicting beliefs of others, even when I am convinced they are wrong?  And how do I keep an open enough mind to really listen when my beliefs are challenged?   What if I’m wrong? The only answer I can come up with is what is at the core of my beliefs, the most fundamental belief of all, and that is, respect.  I believe that every human being has, deep inside, the capacity for goodness and the ability to love.  The best I can do is to try and remember this, and treat everyone, no matter what they believe or don’t believe in, with the respect they deserve.  It sounds simple but it’s not.  I’ve fallen short more times than I can count.  That doesn’t make me wrong, or stop me from trying to do better going forward.


There’s going to be a new edition of the television series “24,” with Kiefer Sutherland reprising his iconic role of Counter Terrorist Unit agent Jack Bauer.   Sutherland first appeared as Jack Bauer in 2001, thirteen years ago now.  Now, in 2014, he is forty eight years old, barely younger than myself at fifty five years old.  Some may suggest that he is approaching the end of his window as an adventure/suspense hero, but I know differently.  There are more episodes of heart pounding suspense that confront me as a fifty five year old than one would ever imagine, episodes that should make damn good television.  I imagine Sutherland might not be up for this assignment, and my imagination runs away with me, until I nod off and have the following dream:

The opening credits roll.  “55 – Starring Dave Gourdoux as Jack Bauer.”  The scene opens with the camera panning a dark bedroom.  All we can clearly see is the light from a clock radio on the headboard that says “2:41”  As our eyes adjust to the dark, we suddenly see sheets and blankets moving from one side of the bed, being kicked off.  Suspenseful music begins softly playing as the movement begins.)

JACK BAUER:  Damnit!

(A leg appears as he kicks the blankets off of his side of the bed.  Then we see the silhouette of Bauer sitting on the edge of his bed, his legs now dangling over the side.  We see him rocking back and forth, trying to gain enough momentum to get up and out of bed.  The music swells, pulsating harder and faster.  He finally gets up and stands upright next to the side of the bed.  Then he starts shuffling in the dark.  Before he gets to the end of the bed, just as the music crescendos, we hear a loud crashing noise as Bauer stubs his toe on the dresser cabinet.)


(The music begins again as Bauer grabs his left foot and hops about in pain, and falls over in the dark, falling into the clothes hamper with an even louder crashing sound.  From off screen we hear the voice of his wife:)

MRS. BAUER:  Again?

(Bauer gets himself upright and makes his way into the bathroom.  He turns the light on and we can see him, from the back, standing at the toilet.)

MRS. BAUER:  (from off screen) That’s the third time tonight!  (The music abruptly stops as the sound of Bauer urinating into the toilet is heard.)

BAUER:  Fourth!  You didn’t wake up last time.

MRS. BAUER:  Did you make it this time?

BAUER:  (Sarcastically, mimicking Mrs. Bauer’s voice) Yes, I made it this time.  (The sound of the urine stream ends, and we hear the sound of the toilet flushing.  Bauer turns the bathroom light off, we can see only the darkened outline of him as he begins to make his way back to bed. The music begins again, building, dramatic and suspenseful)

MRS. BAUER:  Did you remember to wait for the dribble?

BAUER:  (The music suddenly stops just as Bauer stops.) Oh, crap.  You know, if you’re going to remind me, you could remind me a just a tad sooner.

I’d write more, but I have to pee.