A wise person once counseled my wife and me that important conversations should not occur after 10:00 pm. We have done our best to abide by this general rule, knowing that the later in the evening a discussion is commenced, the more likely it is to be emotionally rather than intellectually driven.
That being said, some of our most interesting communication has undoubtedly happened after the bewitching hour of midnight.
In our marriage, it has often been the case that my wife has fallen asleep before me, sometimes by a matter of hours. When I worked as a college dormitory supervisor, it was my duty to patrol the halls and campus grounds well into the night; when I would return home from a hard day's night, she'd be fast asleep, snug as a bug in a rug. And now, as a graduate student, I often sit in bed late at night reading papers, working on assignments, or blogging; exciting as these tasks are, she is rarely able to maintain consciousness whilst I hammer away at the backlit keyboard. Indeed, basking in the warm dim glow of my laptop screen listening to my restfully deep-breathing sleeping wife is a favorite scenario of mine.
It is within this context that the aforementioned most interesting exchanges often occur. My wife typically claims to have no recollection of these conversations the mornings after, which leads me to conclude that she was likely in an altered state of consciousness when they occurred (i.e. talking in her sleep).
Recently, for instance, I had gotten up to use the restroom in the middle of the night. As I slipped back into bed as gingerly as my 260-pound five-foot eleven-and-a-half inch frame would allow, my wife turned toward me just a little and blurted, "Hey fifth grader!"
I replied, "Who, me?"
And she returned with a resounding "Yes, you!" She then proceeded to serenade me with the theme song to the Fox reality show, "Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?"
When these nuggets of late-night conversational gold appear, I have the urge to find a pen and paper and jot down what she has said (or, in some cases, sung) to me. But, just as I do when I awake from a dream I'd like to record the contents of, I convince myself I'll remember her words in the morning. I rarely do. Today, I remembered the "fifth grader" bit, so I thought I'd make a permanent record of it here.
And, while I'm at it, I thought I'd share a few other interesting comments I can remember from the past five-and-a-half blissful years of sleepy time shenanigans before the memories fade into oblivion.
I can recall having worked outside at the college on one particularly cold evening. I returned home chilled to the bone and tucked myself into bed, snuggling next to my snoozing wife for body warmth. "Brrrrr!" she shouted. "You're an ice cube. I'm a heat cube." She rolled away from me, pulling all of the covers with her, muttering something about how ice cubes and heat cubes shouldn't touch.
It is clear, however, that in her sleep, she betrays her deepest thoughts about me. I've been called both a "maztoh ball head" and "a real fideller", which based on the preceding Cuban themed sleep talk conversation, I assume was a reference to Castro, but I can't be sure.
I have of course shared the joy and inanity of her late-night verbal outpourings with a few (hundred) friends and family. My brother wished to experience my wife’s nocturnal loquacity for himself, so he would visit our apartment to watch late-night movies, hoping my lovely bride would fall asleep on the couch. One evening, after watching the exhilarating French-subtitled film Manon des Sources, the little lady conked right out on the couch, and my brother wasted no time in attempting to egg her on to spoken absurdity. It didn’t take much for her to spout off something about being Big Bird in Sesame Street on Ice or some such incoherent gibberish. Little Brother laughed hysterically, asking her one question after the next, leading her further and further down the rabbit trail of nonsensical gobbledygook. Finally, his laughter was too much, and my wife was aroused from her slumber, a small bit perturbed that she had been so exploited for the amusement of others beside myself.
On more than one occasion, she has 'written' and sung lyrics to entire songs that did not exist before her head hit the pillow. These usually send me into riotous fits of merriment that wake her up after a stanza or two. The only song that I can remember and report the lyrics to was quite an ingenious little ditty about Singer Sewing Machines. What made this song quite amazing is that she had never really talked, much less thought, in great depth about this particular apparatus. The song was quite simple with the following verse repeated maybe twenty-ought times:
Sing ‘er a song about a Singer Sewing Machine… a singer sewing machine
Sing ‘er a song about a Singer Sewing Machine… a singer sewing machine
The first couple times she sang the verse she had been lying on her back, barely moving, but, as she repeated it a few more times, she started to feel the rhythm and began to move her shoulders to the beat. Finally, she became so emotionally moved by these lyrics, she bolted upright in bed and sang the song, eyes still closed but face contorted with emotion, in a loudish inside voice, such that I’m pretty sure our apartment neighbors were the recipients of a free chronically crescendoing midnight concert. It was amazing. She just kept singing and singing this verse over and over again. Finally, I felt it the merciful decision to wake her up so that she would not lose her voice as a result of her extended unconscious choral performance.
“Honey,” I said, gently shaking her shoulder. She did not flinch but continued to sing, with feeling.
Sing ‘er a song….
I gently shook her shoulder. “Dear, you’re sleepsinging.” No response.
…about a Singer Sewing Machine…
“You’re going to wake the neighbors, sweetheart.”
… a Singer Sewing Machine…
Finally, I grabbed both shoulders and shook firmly (but non-violently). She continued singing, but her eyes popped open. She continued repeating her verse, looking around the room, trying to figure out who and where she was. The words slowed down to a trickle.
Sing… her… a... song…
“Sweetheart, you’ve been singing in your sleep.
about… a... Singer… Sewing… Machine…
She stopped singing, looked at me as if I were crazy and said, “No I haven’t.”
“Dear,” I replied, defending my position, “you have been singing a song about a classic sewing contraption…” It was pointless to continue. She had already lied down again and closed her eyes. She mumbled something, but her murmurs faded into the nighttime silence.
The song had such a catchy tune that I still find myself humming it on occasion.
I leave you with perhaps my all-time favorite nighttime sleeping wife antic:
Attention all shoppers, attention all shoppers. Supermarket Sweep is about to begin!
Following this exclamation, my wife then described in the first person her dreamland experiences of running through the game show grocery store Bonus Sweep.
Now I’m running up and down the aisles… and now I’m looking for graham crackers… and now I found the graham crackers and I’m throwing it in my cart… and now I’m looking for a giant banana… and I found the giant banana… yippee!!! And now I’m looking for a turkey… and I found the turkey… oooh, the turkey’s heavy… and now I’m running back to the start… and… and… and… I win!!! I win!!! I win!!!
She’s so beautiful and peaceful when she sleeps.