I am at that age when sleep does not always come easy. I mean the good kind of sleep that is pursued with intent at some normal bedtime. My sleep is disturbed by all sorts of distractions. Dreams that make no sense. An exploding bladder that cannot wait. Nerve endings that stab me in the back just to let me know that I am not young any longer.
I seem to have no problem falling asleep at inappropriate times. Like in church. It’s not that the preacher is boring. In fact, he’s good. And since I know he is reading this, I feel obliged to say “really good.” What has come upon me in my sixth decade is the ability to slide into a shallow state of unconsciousness at the drop of a hat once I sit down and get still.
Here’s a list of inappropriate situations during which I have slipped away. Conversations with my wife. Especially after 9PM. Sitting at a traffic light with the sun making me feel comfy warm. Sitting in a movie theater. The darkness only accelerates the process. Listening to someone ramble on and on over the phone. I may have snorted once, woke up, and had to figure out where we were in the conversation.
One time, while sitting on the couch at home engaged in meaningful conversation with my grown up kids, I woke to a room full of laughter.
“You’re kidding, right? You don’t know?”
“No? What’s so funny?”
“You were talking and fell asleep in the middle of your own sentence.”
It’s an embarrassing problem to have. I remember one of the old guys who was a regular at the barber shop in Hampton. He came to socialize, really. I know because he was bald. He would sit in one of the chairs, pick up the paper, and instantly be asleep. Tobacco juice would drool down the corner of his mouth. As a kid, I thought he was going to choke and die right there in that chair. Problem is, I am becoming him.
I feel like I cannot be blamed for this condition. Any man would suffer the same dilemma after being sleep depraved from a long string of restless nights. It’s not that I’m not interested in what you have to say, or that I have some death wish when I’m behind the wheel. Some of you know what I’m talking about.
Last night, there was a two pronged attack. I dreamed that Beth and I were walking by a lake. Never a good thing when there is water in a dream. We walked out on a dock, or maybe a foot bridge. We were alone, and then out of nowhere our one year old granddaughter stumbled past us and fell into the lake. We were only two feet above the water, but when she fell, suddenly we were 20 ft. above the water. I saw her go under. I jumped in to get her. Falling. Falling. And then I woke up to realize that my bladder was stretched like a balloon tied up in the shape of a monkey.
Stumbling out of bed in pitch black darkness is not easy. But I like it dark. I grew up in a place where no street lights existed. When I went into town for a sleepover with one of my friends, the street lights shining in through the curtains haunted me. Shadows dancing on the walls. If it’s dark, you can’t see the monsters.
But I digress. I had business to attend to. We are in the middle of a bathroom remodel, which means that I have to travel out by the family room to get to the guest bath. Fortunately, there are enough electronic devises with little bitty red and green and blue lights flickering that it’s like walking through the control room of the Star Ship Enterprise. Modern day night lights.
When I got back to bed, I couldn’t let go of my dream. It’s stupid, I know. But I kept playing it over and over in my head. My little baby girl disappeared under the water and I didn’t get to her. What if something was wrong? Should I call and check on them? It was 3:38 AM. Probably not a good idea. I watched the clock for about an hour and finally got back to sleep. The alarm went off at 5:10.
I’m not looking for sympathy. No sir. I understand this is the new norm for a man my age. Just know that next time we sit down together and I face plant right in the middle of my plate of spaghetti, don’t wake me. I need my sleep any way I can get it.