Not Worth Losing Any Sleep Over
by Calendar Hacksaw
Betty woke up at 1:00 a.m. this morning and noticed I wasn't in bed. She just assumed I'd trotted off to the bathroom, as is usually the case, so she rolled over and went back to sleep.
But, when she awoke again two hours later and found my side of the bed still empty, she became a bit concerned, so she commenced to get up and have a look around. She thought that I might be on the computer, hammering out a column, knowing that I was well past deadline as is usually the case.
What she found instead was an empty bathroom, lights turned off in the kitchen, dining room and living rooms, front and back doors locked, two sleeping dogs, and no sign of ol' Calendar anywhere. She checked the front and rear yards. She checked her Lotto numbers. She checked the oil in her car. She checked her hat and coat before ordering a dry martini, but that's another story. Play it again, Sam.
Not finding me in any of the usual places, she retrieved a flashlight so she could covertly inspect the bedrooms where grandkids Persephone and Alpo sleep. And it was in one of those bedrooms that she found me, sound asleep, hogging three-fourths of Alpo's twin bed. How and why I got there are anyone's guess; obviously another lost episode in my lengthy history of sleepwalking. Betty woke me up, Alpo doubled over in laughter, and I hustled back to my own bed.
Hell, Alpo's 28 years old; I guess he can sleep with anyone he wants. It's not like this is some sort of Michael Jackson caper.
My first sleepwalking experience came at about the age of 12, while vacationing at some relatives' house in Sacramento. According to eyewitness accounts, I arose, went to the front door, played with the chain lock as though it were a leash, and announced that I was going to take the dog for a walk. Then I lay back down and resumed my nap. Not much excitement to that one, but it was a start, and some free amusement for those in attendance.
None of us are real clear on the details anymore, but there was an instance a few years back where I got caught red-handed in the middle of the night rearranging Betty's collection of Dopey figurines on the shelves in the hallway. Rearranging these figurines was totally out of character for me, in that I would be more inclined to smash the Dopey icons and throw them in the trash. But Betty's collection is one of the world's finest, worth many thousands of dollars, so I guess even a sleepwalker recognizes value.
Granddaughter Persephone has had a few sleepwalking experiences of her own, but thus far she's failed to live up to the reputation and high standards I've set for intensity and duration. On one occasion, she excitedly woke up Betty in the middle of the night to frantically announce that there was important homework needing to be completed immediately. On another, Percy woke up and found herself standing in the kitchen, refrigerator door wide open, wondering why she was there.
Occasionally, we read of homicides and suicides committed during sleepwalking episodes. In fact, a trial recently held in Los Angeles involved a suspect with a lengthy history of somnambulism (for those who can afford such a diagnosis), accused of murdering his girlfriend while sleeping on Catalina Island. Scientists and medical professionals admit they understand little about this form of automatism, but find it common in children (mostly boys), and decreasing with age. Most people have a sleepwalking experience at least once in their lives, but few are candid enough to own up to it as I am. I'm certain nothing I include in this column will impact the high regard you hold for my honesty and integrity.
I'm reminded of an episode that occurred more than a quarter-century ago, when Alpo was just a toddler. Betty had prepared a scrumptious dinner of baked cranberry chicken, which consisted of chicken breasts covered in a cranberry puree. We awoke the next morning to quite a surprise: our record albums had been artfully spread about the floor and carpet of the hallway and sewing room, some in their covers and some not, but all bearing a sticky coating of cranberry puree. The sliding door was wide open, and on the back patio, we found the hose turned on full blast, flooding the area. Alpo lay sleeping soundly in his bed; the picture of innocence.
We laughed and marveled at Alpo's ability to do some of these things, which were clearly beyond his grasp, we thought, at such an early age. The leftover cranberry puree had to have come from the baking dish, left atop the stove. And we had no idea that he knew how to turn on a faucet. Over the years, this episode has brought us many a laugh.
Only now, in retrospect, I wonder if it was really the work of Alpo. I feel a sudden guilt. But then again, Betty doesn't have an alibi, either.
Calendar Hacksaw can be roused at firstname.lastname@example.org, and he invites you to share your own sleepwalking stories over coffee or drinks at TOGS. You'll feel better about yourself for doing so, and your friends will gain new insights into how close you are to going over the edge.