My slumber has been fitful lately. I wake in the middle of night and have trouble getting back to sleep. Relaxation exercises have not helped; neither have the usual nostrums of warm milk or a baby aspirin before bedtime.
Fortunately, Russian literature has provided the key to diagnosing my sleep problem. This evening I was reading Nikolai Gogol's classic novel Dead Souls. Gogol describes his picaresque hero Chichikov taking his rest: "Having eaten the lightest of suppers, consisting only of a suckling pig, he immediately undressed and, climbing in under his blanket, fell into fast, sound slumber, fell into that marvelous slumber which is known only to those fortunate beings who are bothered neither by hemorrhoids, nor fleas, nor overdeveloped mental faculties."
I am free of hemorrhoids. My mental faculties are mediocre and growing dimmer by the year. Therefore, I fear that my bedclothes may be the habitation of fleas. It's time to do laundry.