The sages say you can tell a man by the company he keeps. I say you can tell a man by what he does after the cat walks across his face at 3:08 a.m., and he can't get back to sleep.
What this man did the other night was to curse once, very loudly. Then he reached for Larry King.
King's gravelly baritone can be found on WTOP-AM, every Monday through Friday, between midnight and 5:30 a.m.
He is the resident wit, air traffic controller and psychiatrist for the nation's hottest (and I think by far its best) all-night call-in radio show.
I had spent many a previous siege of insomnia with Good Ole Larry and his Open Phone America. The sieges would always go the same way.
I'd hug the pillow, trying to squeeze sleep out of the feathers and into me. Meanwhile, I'd try as hard as I could not to listen to Larry and his farflung friends.
But I was almost always unsuccessful. The reason is that King's callers are the Cracker Jacks of radio.
You know they're bad for you. But the more you hear, the more you want.
Cat-on-the-face night was par for the King course.
Some wacko from the Midwest called to ask Larry a favor: Would he please tell Walter Reed Army Medical Center to stop aiming ultrasonic rays at him?
The next called had disregarded King's advice and had bet the Chicago Bears against the Miami Dolphins. He called to say he wouldn't be that dumb twice.
The next call was dimly about football, too. And it's still got me thinking 12 hours later.
The caller was a Green Bay Packers fan. He told Larry that the Packers' captain had called "heads" during the coin flip that preceded their Sunday game against Minnesota.
The coin came up tails, but it was no big deal. Lots of people lost lots of pregame coin flips.
A far bigger deal, though, was what the Packers did after the regulation four quarters ended with the score tied.
Before the special sudden-death overtime period, another coin toss was held. This time, possession of the ball was critical, because the team that scored first would win.
And this time, the Packer captain called "tails."
But the coin came up heads, and Minnesota, given possession of the ball, went briskly on to score and win the game.
King's caller insisted that the Packers would have had a better chance of winning the second flip if their captain had called "heads" again.
His reasoning: Whenever a coin comes up A, the odds of it coming up B on the next flip increase.
The caller admitted he couldn't prove this theory. But he told Larry King: "You've gotta admit that at least it sounds like it makes sense."
Evidently having survived Statistics 101, King assures his caller that he was dead wrong.
Each coil flip is an independent event, and its result is exclusive of all other results, King pointed out.
A coin could come up tails 17,000 times in a row, King noted, and the odds on the 17,001st flip would still be 50-50.
But diplomat that he is, King acknowledged to the Packer Backer that there did indeed seem to be something mystical about calling "heads" during the pregame toss.
After all, in 1972-73, when they won all 17 of their games, including the Super Bowl, the Dolphins won the coin flip 17 weeks in a row, King noted.
And each week, the Dolphins called "heads" -- either because captain Nick Buoniconti uttered the word, or because the other team's captain called "tails."
Meanwhile, I have unearthed a 1969 article in a national sports magazine. It reports that captains called "heads" more than three-fourths of the time in National Football League pregame flips during the previous season.
No one knows why, just as no one knows why captains who called "tails" were on the eventual winning team more than two-thirds of the time, according to the magazine.
But magazine pieces are one thing, and science is another. So I have just spent the last 14 minutes of my life tossing a nickel 100 times.
It came up heads 52 times, tails 48.
And what happened on the throw immediately after each of the 52 heads?
Twenty-six times, a head followed a head. And 26 times, a tail followed a head.
It was so neat and perfect that it's enough to keep you awake at night.
Michael Ditkoff decided it was high time he taught his accounting department the difference between a speedometer and an odometer. So when a clerk asked him for his speedometer readings before and after a recent business trip, Ditkoff replied: "Zero and zero."
But some guys just don't learn. Ditkoff says his accounting pal is still trying to figure out how to multiply zero by 18 cents a mile.