I'm not saying that this happened to me last night, because it didn't, but it happened recently to someone I know. I won't call him a friend out of fear of reprisals but I will relate what he said did happened to him a few hours ago.
He was sleeping (which happens to the best of us) and his house alarm went off. This also happens and I hate it. I spend the first few seconds answering the alarm clock and turning off my phone and then the panic sets in. Why is the alarm sounding? Why can't God just let me sleep? Can't criminals be quieter? So I stumble out of bed, and as a matter of habit, I turn the alarm off.
This presents a problem -- once you turn it off, you can't see what zone was triggered so there is no way to know WHY the alarm was going off. But once it is off, there is such a temptation to go back to bed. For some reason, though, wives have this strange curiosity -- they want to know why the alarm sounded. So they (and I say "they" because this has happened to me and this is what happened to my colleague at 4 this morning, so I can only assume this is a truth of all wives, everywhere, even among the animal kingdom) say to the husband, "Go check that out."
There is a murderer down there, a blood thirsty criminal who either can't read so he didn't see the sign on the front lawn saying we have an alarm, or doesn't care because he has had a series of personal downturns and misfortunes so he wouldn't shy away from chopping me into little bits and putting me into baggies, and not the zipper kind because we saved money by buying the generic ones with the foldy top thing. What a mess that would leave for the wife when she doesn't hear from me and comes down to check in 6 or 7 hours. So if nothing else, to all you wives, don't skimp on your baggie purchases!
But anyway. Why send ME down there? Have we not met? I'm not exactly a he-man and arming me with a pair of nail clippers won't make my flab and sweatpants any more imposing when I stumble on the band of ruffians in our kitchen making off with our collection of old sippy-cups which have no matching lids. Don't you remember that I'm the one who hates bugs? I was the one who frreaked out when the garbage bag dripped on my foot? I'm the anti-social one! -- If you want to meet new people who are robbing us, YOU GO. Why is there no equal right amendment between 11PM and 5AM? Fortunately, I only think these things and say nothing. I value all the right things in my relationship, like not having to sleep downstairs with the criminals.
So I (or my not so hypothetical friend) stumble down the stairs making the most noise possible hoping that my approach will scare the intruder back through the door he opened. I move through every room with the confidence I must exude to convince my family that this is a false alarm, mixed with the actual fear I feel at the remote possibility that I will walk into a room, turn on the light, and be confronted with an extra from The Road Warrior or a family of raccoons chowing down on a box of Power Bars and thus becoming even more powerful.
Eventually, I make it through the house and confirm that there is NO reason that the alarm went off. This is both comforting and incredibly disconcerting. Sure, no one seems to have broken in, but then why did the alarm go off? Is it broken? Did someone come in and then fix whatever he cast askew? So as I trudge back upstairs, ready to be pelted with questions about what I saw, and what might have caused the alarm to go off, I look at the clock and wonder if it wouldn't make more sense just to stay up. As the family drifts back into an uneasy sleep, I end up lying awake wondering if I remembered to check the boiler room. I clutch the nail clippers tighter and wait for sunrise when the monsters will have to get out of the house so that they can be waiting for me at work.