Thursday, April 8, 2010

Golden slumber fills my mind

Riddle me this:

Everyone craves it, yet we often refuse it. We love it, yet we're never aware when we're doing it. Teenagers deny themselves of it, yet they need it the most.

What is it? Ahhh...blissful slumber.

It's one of the great equalizers in the animal universe. No matter how much more highly evolved we humans consider ourselves, we still must lie prone every night, joining ranks with the meerkats and the platypuses and the dung beetles. We laugh at our pets when they appear to be stalking prey in their sleep, but we're incapable of remembering that last night, we sat up in bed, looked at our spouse and exclaimed, "Let me see that cucumber. It's missing a sock...."

I've been thinking about sleep lately because people have been falling asleep around me a little more than usual. Work meetings, especially right after lunch, seem to have also been attended by the Sandman as of late. While sitting at a meeting this morning, I noticed a woman down the table, swallowing yawns like a boa constrictor swallows a rat—the expanded throat, the unnaturally closed mouth. Before long, it appeared that she was really into the meeting, because she nodded at everything.

We've all been there. We're so sleepy, we decide to stop fighting it and just close our eyes for ten seconds. We come to our senses, often with a spastic jerk and look around to see if anyone noticed, and depending on the length of the meeting, this behavior can repeat itself with greater frequency than a Geico commercial.

At home, nodding off is completely acceptable and welcome while seated, watching television in a comfortable chair. No pressure exists to stay awake, so let's just go right ahead and doze off. My only personal barrier to a truly restful nap in the upright position is that an abundance of saliva accumulates in my mouth. Once the spittle level reaches critical mass, I inhale a big string of spit, which causes a mild drowning experience, similar to a leaky toilet. Fits of choking and coughing ensue, thereby aborting any opportunity to sleep through the third quarter and awaken to catch the Seahawks or Huskies for the final period.

One other roadblock in the quest for rest exists for me, and I'm sure others, while sleeping in bed. Have you ever awoken in the middle of the night, only to notice that one of your arms is wedged freakishly under your torso like a murder victim, and the blood circulation in that arm has ceased to exist for the past hour? I always feel just a little bit panicked when I can't feel one of my appendages, and there's always a slight risk of snapping my arm in half while attempting to flop over like a trout. Once the feeling returns, I often discover another drool pool, this time on a formerly numb part of my frontal shoulder.

On those rare mornings where I'm allowed to sleep as long as I want and wake naturally, I love to just lie there for about an hour, slowly gaining consciousness and pondering any dreams which have recently concluded. If the story involved something like, say, getting screamed at by a 30-foot-tall Cyndi Lauper who shot me with maple syrup blow darts, and then my teeth fell out, which made me have to get back together with an old psycho girlfriend...then it's time to get up.

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