I feel run down. I donít mean by a truck or anything. Well, it sorta feels like a truck ran me down, but not literally.

You ever get that way? I woke up this morning after what I think was a sound nightís sleep except for a coupla weird dreams wherein gnomish creatures had invaded my house and left crayon messages all over walls, furniture and my books reading, "DOWN WITH TALL PEOPLE" and one even said "WEíLL NEVER STOOP TO YOUR LEVEL!" I have no idea subconsciously what all that was about, but I fear theyíre living under the sofa and Patches is bringing them food and newspapers.

Anyway, when the clock went off I was so tired I just lay there staring at the ceiling, thinking, "These covers are so heavy. I mean, itís like, a sheet and a comforter! I donít think I can lift them to get out of bed."

I tried experimentally and, sure enough, I could lift them but after flinging them off me I had to lay there for a few minutes more to recuperate, trying to figure out why I was so run down, and in the end blaming the gnomes. Or Patches. You know, in the old days they believed cats would breathe the life out of a babyís body if it got into a crib. Maybe Patches has been draining me of my spirit essence at night.

About that time she leapt up into the bed with me and nuzzled my arm for a petting, for which I didnít have the energy so she bit my index finger, which reminded me that Patches is too smart to take the life outta me. Thereíd be nobody there to torment if she did.

Finally I made it up and fixed coffee, though I rinsed the pot for a long, long time because I didnít feel like picking it up out of the sink. Off to the shower and it was quite burdensome to lift my feet over the edge of the tub. By the time I got back to the freshly brewed coffee, I got transfixed looking out the kitchen window at the side of my garage, and almost forgot to pour myself a cup and head for my chair in the living room.

So while Iím sitting there drinking my coffee and watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer (What? You got a problem with Buff?) Iím wondering absently if gnomes really do wear those long pointed hats. I like Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Only on television can you find a high-school girl who is, in fact, a vampire killer, so she sneaks out of her room at night, spends the dark hours tracking down and killing vampires and all manner of other nefarious beastsÖand when her mother catches her sneaking back into her room in the morning, she gets grounded for a month. I love it.

But itís all I can do to keep my eyes open. Iím so run down I feel like, I donít knowÖbadly-set Jell-O. A soufflé that fell. Overcooked spaghetti. I drain the last of my coffee and donít feel like getting another cup.

I look at the cat lounging in my lap.

"If you were worth a plug nickel," I tell her, "youíd go get me another cup of coffee." I offer her the cup and she sniffs the handle then proceeds to ignore it.

Have you ever noticed when a cat ignores something, it ceases to exist? I mean, a cat could ignore a thousand pound grizzly tearing up a room. Sheíd just sit there and yawn, blinking half-closed eyelids. I swear, if you put a cat in charge of the national deficit, she could ignore it into a balanced budget in no time flat.

Patches reminds me of the "somebody elseís problem field" in Douglas Adamsí Hitchhikerís Guide to the Galaxy series. When the evil aliens were going to invade Earth, they invented the "somebody elseís problem field," which means when their fleet of battleships appeared over Yankee stadium during the World Series, everyone looked up at the invading aliens, shrugged and thought, "Hey, itís somebody elseís problem," and in this way, our planet was conquered.

"The dog would go get me more coffee," I complain to her half-blinking calico face.

She opens one eye at me and then closes it again. I know what she just did. She just snapped at me. By opening that one eye and closing it again she just said, "Then get the dog to do it, fat boy, I just got comfortable." I hate it when she snaps at me.

So I get up to get more coffee, thereby disturbing her comfortable spot anyway. When I get back, sheís in my chair. We go through this every single time I get up from my chair. By the time I get back, sheís curled up in it and looking at me like, "Hey, use it or lose it, dough boy."

Iím too tired and run down to fight with her so I sit on the sofa to watch the end of Buffy. Patches canít take this, being unchallenged and ignored, so she comes over to my lap on the sofa, and I comment, "A cat with as many psychological hangups as you have could do with the mental regiment of fetching me coffee," but she just blinks, turns around three times to the right, and settles in to rest from such a rough morning.

Just then thereís a commercial on television where the announcer shouts: "Feeling tired? Run down? You arenít getting the right vitamins! Thatís right, you need Vitamins B, D, E, A, Z, T, S, and W along with generous doses of iron, calcium, lithium, uranium and plutonium for a well-rounded daily intake! And if you order RIGHT NOW, weíll send you not one, but FOUR bottles of Mega-Turbo-Life-Speed-Life for $19.95! Thatís right, and for acting in the next hour, weíll throw in a 100-tablet sample of our new product, the electric letter opener absolutely FREE!"

Iíd like to turn around and go back to bed, call in sick, but I think about trying to get back under those enormously heavy covers and head off to work instead.

I donít know why Iím so run down today, but I have no energy whatsoever. Itís the dadgum gnomes, I bet. The little buggers are running me ragged at night with their sign-making and political protesting. I bet in my sleep Iím trying to get all the red crayon off the sheetrock and the sofa, trying to erase it out of my copy of The Lord of the Rings. No wonder Iím so tired. Getting crayon off is hard work.