There's no way to get around it: sleep is creepy. It's not something I talk about in mixed company (because I'm seemingly alone in my belief), but I've always felt this way. I remember being a kid and becoming slightly uncomfortable whenever they showed people in bed on Little House on the Prairie, preparing to turn themselves over to an eight-hour minicoma. I'm sorry, but the widely accepted ritual of climbing atop an elevated platform and assuming a state of insectlike dormancy is disturbing to me.
The fact that otherwise bright and energetic people willingly allow themselves to become drooling vegetables at the end of each day feels like a failure. We, as superior animals, should be above such base requirements by now. Every night I climb aboard my raised coma platform, I sigh with resignation, feeling like a monkey in pants.
Have you ever seen a person sleeping? We look like idiots. As I put a fresh pillowcase on my pillow, I see the stains there, created by excess saliva that rolled out of my mouth during my nightly transformation into a lobotomized fool, and I feel shame. This is no way to live, people.
In addition to all the time wasted to voluntary loss of consciousness, I worry that one of these days I'll get in too deep and won't be able to pull out the other side. Sleep is Death Lite, and playing chicken with the grim reaper is, I think, ill-advised. Yet we do it every day. So far I've won every contest, but the odds keep getting longer and longer. It's Russian roulette beneath a fluffy comforter. Tonight could very well be the night that I'm drawn to the light.
And the fact that sleep is not only accepted by society, but celebrated too-well, that concerns me. We should be working at correcting this abnormality. Instead, we build homes equipped with special rooms (chambers) in which to assume our freakish science fiction states of suspended animation, complete with fancy hand-carved hibernation stands. We also frequent places of business, like Bed, Bath and Beyond, where one can purchase myriad frilly, scented dormancy supplies. If we had a grotesque dangling mole on our faces, we'd have it removed, not drive across town to purchase an imported mole cozy.
Don't even get me started on dreams. When somebody starts a sentence with, 'Oh man, I had the weirdest dream last night,' I head for the exit. Thank you for your desire to share, but the bizarre misfirings of your nocturnal brain waves frighten me. You say you were playing darts in a jockstrap with Willie Mays and Thomas Jefferson? Well, that's just excellent.
My wife loves to sleep; she views it as a refuge. (She actually looks forward to it, which I find slightly insulting.) I'm just the opposite, of course. I put it off as long as possible, and curse its talent for robbing me of one-third of my precious life. When I finally give in to sleep's evil come-ons, it feels like defeat. Why, if I had had an extra seven or eight hours per day, I could rule the world. Or at least watch a shitload of television.
Throughout history, many visionaries have attempted to circumvent sleep, including Thomas Edison and Seinfeld Kramer, but, in general, we just accept it as a fact of life. What we need is something that will allow us to stay awake all the time. I seem to remember reading a piece on the Internet a while ago about a half-assed military experiment along those lines. I'd be interested in getting in on this deal-far way from the battlefield, of course. It would be like having your weeks Super-Sized.
In the meantime, though, I guess I have no choice but to play along and do my time atop the platform. I do so under protest, however; I want that to be noted.
From Crimewave (#15), an Ypsilanti, Michigan-based zine that is strange, quirky, and all over the place-but in a good way. Subscriptions: $12/3 issues from Box 980301, Ypsilanti, MI 48198; www.crimewaveusa.com