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Kicking It

Elizabeth Youngman-Westphal

Special to The Village News

Isn’t it a given that if you put your head on a pillow, sleep will follow?

Yet, ever since my television was banned from the bedroom years ago, slumber comes at a price. It turns out to be a struggle unless I can read myself to sleep. The only alternative takes hours repeating a tedious mantra which is reason enough for me to awaken most mornings cuddled up to my Kindle.

Knowing some suggest that digital devices can actually deter sleep due to the emitting light, for me, it’s just the opposite. Here is what happens without my reader: for some reason an unwelcome hatch opens a bee hive of thoughts buzzing inside my prefrontal cortex causing sleep to allude.

Bedtime reading is de rigueur. That is why I was in a kerfuffle knowing in advance that while staying at my daughter’s off-grid cabin in rural Alaska, that my electronic reader had limitations. You see, the library only loans e-books for 21 days and being without reliable internet – not even a nearby Starbucks – there wouldn’t be any way to access my Fallbrook library account to reload more e-books. After all, I would be gone for 36 days, 28 in Alaska and eight nights on the cruise back.

I needed a contingency plan, which is what led me to the Fallbrook Library. At the used book shop, I bought five paperbacks to pack. To further fulfill my night time reading needs, I packed my grandson’s flashlight and even extra batteries.

As a side note, have you ever stayed with one of your adult children for a month? I’ve done it several times. And, it is trying for both parties. First, because I am not the boss anymore, which is why “I said so” no longer works; and second, she has a very disciplined way of isolating gluten-free cooking utensils from touching any item that may have once beheld gluten. It requires a lot of concentration just to wash dishes. Two sponges. Two cup towels, Yada. Yada. Yada.

Moving on.

Further restrictions for my reading materials are that everything I read must have a happy ending. Period. No deviation. I cannot abide suspense of any kind, especially lurking in the text.

With these restrictive guidelines, primarily the only genre left to me is historical romance novels. Otherwise known as mental candy without calories. Mostly written by women for women, many of these authors write saucy accounts with explicit sexual scenes. Wahoo. But after the first few reads, eh, it’s easy to just skip over the naughty parts and get on with the story.

But, if you are inclined to read descriptions of people doing nasty things, you can always go back to the third grade with your grandchildren. There you can read about same-sex sex performed by children on adults. It is all thanks to Gov. Gavin Newsome’s latest directive and supported by other tiresome lefties like our local guy; basically, that Executive Order guarantees pornography will have a guaranteed place in our children’s school libraries. And that is why evil lurks among us.

Back to my tale.

With the end of my long stay at Deb’s cabin in the woods nearing, I picked up my last unread paperback.

The story is set in Victorian Edinburgh. Even though slavery had been banned throughout the U.K., the ban did not affect a husband’s right to rid himself of an unbiddable wife.

After all, a man’s wife was chattel. Therefore, he could beat her and abuse her any way he wanted, and if she was still not to his liking, like a potato, he could sell her to any man, constituting an on-the-spot divorce allowing both to remarry.

The story continues by introducing a young and –doesn’t it go without saying – handsome unmarried Scottish Laird who just happens to be accompanying his sister that very day to the milliners to buy a new hat for her upcoming-wedding ensemble.

As he waits in his carriage outside, he hears a loud ruckus coming from the nearby green. Bored with the wait, he steps to the curb to investigate. It is then he discovers a woman kneeling at her husband’s feet, trussed up by a long rope. The husband is broadcasting his general dislike for the woman in the public market shouting that he is selling her, his wife, “to the first taker for a guinea.”

And before you know it, Laird Ewan Stewart has purchased his bride and placed her in his carriage. All of this action happens in the first chapter. Naturally, it was a compelling fast read.

A few days later it was time to join V.J. in Vancouver to catch our cruise back to San Diego on Royal Caribbean’s Radiance of the Seas. After settling into our cabin, and with nothing to read, I slipped out in search of the ship’s library. Oddly enough, most of the books were in Dutch.

By the time I returned to our cabin, I got the biggest surprise of all. My no-nonsense husband was stretched out on the bed, his head on a pillow drifting off to sleep with my Scottish romance novel butterflied across his chest. Ahhh.

Elizabeth Youngman-Westphal can be reached at [email protected].


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