This morning, before heading out to the airport, I woke my wife up with a kiss and told Jenn that I loved her. Soon enough, she was giggling about something I said while sleeping. Bookended by sleepy muttering and snores, I said something like this:
…they always make you wear the seat belt on these flights…I always take it off as soon as I can…but they come by and make you put it back on…but don’t worry, honey…after they go away, I’ll take off my seat belt so I can get next to and touch you…
None of this surprises me, for I have said and done far crazier things during the night.
When I was a kid in northern Chicago, I lived in two-story house with a basement. My bedroom was on the top floor, at the receiving end of a long, steep stairway. The cellar featured a similar flight of stairs and was secured by an unlocked door.
Late one night, my mother was having trouble sleeping, so she went downstairs to get a glass of milk. The kitchen was dark, illuminated only by light belching from the open refrigerator door. Suddenly, she saw something that made her gasp loudly in fright. As the door creaked open further, it lit up the corner of the kitchen where I stood, still as a lamppost, with my eyes wide open and glazed.
This was how I discovered that I am a sleepwalker.
Apparently, I had woken up in the middle of the night, strolled downstairs, and found myself behind the breakfast table. How I had done this without waking anyone up or breaking my neck is still unexplained. And the next morning, I had absolutely no memory of ever having left my room.
Another night shortly after that, my dad was woken by a loud noise coming from downstairs. He discovered me sitting on the living room couch, perched in front of the blaring television. I was looking at the television, but I wasn’t watching it. The next day, my father was at the hardware store, purchasing barriers for blocking the stairways and new locks for the basement door.
Episodes similar to this would occur off and on through the years and could only be blamed on sleepwalking because I was living alone. Once, I woke up and discovered that my pillowcases were missing. Further investigation found them in the living room, sitting on the couch folded up. And although I’ve been guilty of tossing and turning from time to time, one morning I awoke to find myself completely upside-down in the horizontal sense — I was lying with my feet pointing towards the headboard, propped up on my pillows.
The sleepwalking eventually faded away, only to be replaced by something more imaginative and random.
In 1995, I went camping at Enchanted Rock with the college gang that consisted of Reece, Daisy, and Bob. We had two tents. Reece and Daisy occupied the first, Bob & I the second. On one of the many red-wine-soaked evenings, I was sleeping yet boomed the following pronouncement
“Motion! You can’t see it, you gotta feel it! WOOOOSH! Didyoufeelit?! DIDYOUFEELIT?!”
Although it was dark, I imagine that everyone was staring at one another in disbelief. Reece asked me, “Matthew, are you awake?” to which I sarcastically replied, “Well, I’m talking to you, aren’t I?!”
Reece was annoyed and grunted, “Yeah, Matt, fuck you. Go back to sleep.”
I woke up to discover everyone was in a rather pissy mood towards me. Funny, I thought, since we went mad about anything before going to bed. I wondered what bug had crawled up their asses. I once again had no memory of my nocturnal activities. I didn’t believe that I was a sleep-talker. The accumulation of witnesses would soon convince me otherwise.
In 1997, I set out on a road-trip with my college buds Dan and Cary. During the trip, we shacked up at an Austin hotel. Dan and Cary shared one bed while I slept in the other. And once again in the middle of the quiet night, I made my presence known:
“Cleo’s feet are lunging necessary!”
In the dark, Dan was lying on his back — he couldn’t believe what I just said and was thinking that he must have heard things.
Then his bed started to shimmy. Cary was giggling silently and causing the mattress to shake. “Dude!” Dan said to Cary, “Did you hear that, too?!” Cary then burst into laughter said, “Yeah, dude!” Dan leaped out of bed, knocking over trash cans, chairs, and other non-secured furniture while searching for the pen and paper needed to record my words.
The next morning, I asked Dan where he got the fresh bruises on his shins.
Just a year later, I fulfilled a life-long dream to visit Great Britain. Traveling with my friends Jim and Monica, we rented a tiny car and wandered the countryside for two weeks, visiting such scenic locales as Warwickshire and the town of Battle.
Being a scholar, I soaked in all of the history I could. For example, Warwick is home to a splendid castle which remains largely intact. It served as the home of Richard Neville, the 16th Earl of Warwick, famous in Shakespeare and history for playing a major part in the deposition and elevation of English monarchs. It was the prestige from such feats which afforded him the moniker of “The Kingmaker.”
Days later, we steered south and visited the town of Battle. One might think that Battle is a peculiar name for a town until they learn that it played host nearly a thousand years ago to the Battle of Hastings, where the Saxon warlord William the Conqueror bested Harold the Hagrid, the English king. Harold was felled on the field of battle by means of an arrow shaft to the eye. Such display of long-range weaponry proved to foreshadow English use of such weapons hundreds of years later at Agincourt.
Afterwards, the three of us returned to the B&B we were staying at. It was a small, charming establishment owned by our friends Ted & Gilly. While there, we received close to a royal treatment, as Ted was locally famous for both his culinary skills and taste for fine Scotch. After a fine meal of roasted lamb, we retired to our room.
Jim, Monica, and I shared a tiny room that caused us to remain in close proximity once asleep. The peaceful silence surrounding this evening’s slumber was shattered when I began to boom the following in my sleep:
“The French! They’ll never be able to withstand our longbows! We need to fetch more lances for the Kingmaker!”
Jim furiously tried to mute me with swats of pillows to the face and finger-pokes in my side, but to no avail. Soon enough, our fellow lodgers on the same floor were up and about thanks to the commotion I caused.
The next day, I heard of some slight grumbling. I dismissed such criticism; after all, what self-respecting Englishman wouldn’t want to be alerted to the fact that the French were coming?
Photo credit: Comic Book Resources