Reading the ramblings of Sleep Talkin’ Man remind me that, while I don’t talk in my sleep (that I know of), I sometimes say and do things in that weird, semi-conscious state between sleep and wide awake consciousness. Things that are strange, and strangely related to the context of the waking environment. Things that I don’t often mean.
For example, I was once awakened by a ringing telephone on my nightstand at 4:30 a.m. In my haze, I went all Maxwell Smart and tried to answer a shoe which was not far from my bed. I remember trying to hit the answer button on the bottom of my shoe, holding it up to my ear to talk, and being perplexed as to why it was still ringing. It took about 30 seconds before I realized what I was doing, but by then it was too late to answer the real phone.
Another time, I incorporated my dog’s nails clicking on a tile floor nearby into my dream as rain hitting the window. I shot up out of bed, and tried to close the window to prevent the rain from coming in.
And it can be worse when there’s someone else there.
I have a standard spiel where I tell overnight guests that they should just ignore anything and everything, good or bad, that comes out of my mouth for the first five minutes after I wake up, especially if I’m awoken suddenly by an alarm clock, an inadvertent kick, etc.
Tracy did not heed my advice.
I had been seeing a girl, Tracy, for a few weeks many years ago, and she stayed over one Saturday night. On Sunday morning, I rolled over and my eyes must’ve fluttered open for a moment because she said, “Good morning, handsome,” which I heard and responded to during that five minute window I told her to ignore:
“It ain’t that fucking good…you’re still here.”
The next thing I know, I was wondering why I was on the floor; wondering why Tracy was running out of my bedroom; and wondering why my face was throbbing with pain. As I was wondering all of these things, I noticed that the floor was quite comfortable, so I went back to sleep.
One other aspect of this weird time between sleep and consciousness is that I only seem to recall the things I do during it after a long period of time has elapsed, or if my memory is triggered by something external to me like an ad on TV or whoever was with me says something.
I don’t know how long I was asleep for, but I awoke with my head basically located under my bed. After taking a few minutes to get my bearings, and after coming to terms that I had fallen out of bed in the middle of the night and fallen back asleep on the floor, I managed to get myself up to check on my guest. She wasn’t there. Seeing as how it was 11 a.m., I figured that she had something to do and didn’t want to wake me on her way out. I looked for a note, but couldn’t find one.
I went into the bathroom to take care of mother nature, and as I splashed water on my face I noticed something strange. My right eye had some serious bags under it. In fact, one could say it was…well…bruised. I had no idea how it happened, but thought it must’ve happened when I fell out of bed.
It was about this point that my fully armed and operational brain put a few things together, and started to panic:
OH SHIT! SHE’S BEEN ABDUCTED!
I frantically called her cell phone. It rang once and went to voice mail. Someone, maybe her, maybe her abductors, sent my call straight to voice mail. I frantically yelled at the voicemail system, “Tracy, it’s Josh, are you alright?! I woke up stuffed under my bed with a black eye. You’re not here, are you OK?! If you’re OK, please call me back, I’m freaking out!”
I began pacing around my living room.
I waited five minutes, called her back, got voice mail on one ring again, and left another frantic message, including something about calling the police, which I was seriously about to do.
She called me back about two minutes later, informed me that she was OK, told me not to call the police, and then spent the next several minutes calling me names I’d rather not print here (“motherfucking douche bag” was probably the cleanest of them), and then hung up.
I still had no idea what she was talking about, but I was beginning to get the idea that it was all my fault.
So there I was at about 11:30 a.m. on a Sunday morning, with a black eye, a very irate friend, and a queasy feeling in my stomach. I was hoping that whatever happened between the two of us, that I looked worse. Knowing that she was OK, and by OK I mean that she wasn’t abducted by evildoers, I decided to let things calm down before I tried to make contact again to find out what I did.
I tried making contact several hours later, to no avail. I tried for several days, again, to no avail.
After about a week and a half of leaving messages for her basically asking the same thing (“What did I do?”), I guess she finally got tired of it and called me back. After asking me if I was serious when I said that I had no idea why she was mad at me, she explained what happened. As she started to explain it, almost immediately, the details flooded back into my conscious memory, and I was able to finish the story for her. Unfortunately, I also remembered my standard immunity defense of not taking my first five minutes of consciousness seriously, and I let out a hearty laugh at my original statement, her actions in response, and my subsequent freak-out upon awakening consciously.
Upon hearing my laughter, she hung up on me. A person can’t slam a cell phone down, but I’m sure she hit the “end call” button with gusto, if she didn’t actually throw the phone against the wall.
Even though I tried apologizing, with flowers, she never spoke to me again.