His arm shot out like a chest-burster, hand landing squarely on my head, fingers beginning to knead my cranium like he was testing a cantaloupe for ripeness. I let him practice amateur phrenology for about 45 seconds before I flipped over and butt-snuggled him until another limb’s interest took precedence over his zombie arm.
This isn’t unusual as Man-Friend falls asleep: he’s a twitcher, and his snap-reflexes are sharp and violent enough that I’ve learned the hard way not to doze off with my face anywhere near his fists or elbows.
Yesterday, he fell asleep on the couch, head propped up on his own hand. I thought I woke him by snorting and then choking on my vodka tonic, laughing, after he twitch-punched himself in the temple (which also did not wake him). As it was, with him slumbering peacefully atop the remote control, I remained trapped watching a marathon of “The 72 most deadly Australian animals,” which is 1. an actual show, and 2. surprisingly light on the arachnids and heavy on the marsupials.
Now, I’m lousy to sleep with, so I am frankly thrilled to have anything to balance the scales. I snore, I blanket-steal, and I vacillate from scorching radiator to heat-sucking ice pop. Oh, and I sleep like the dead. In college, I slept through numerous fire alarms, despite the siren being mounted on the dorm wall 10 feet from my unconscious ears. I slept peacefully through the marching band that high-stepped past my first-floor window at 8 a.m. Saturday mornings, as I was just falling asleep from my job as a night-shift waitress. More than once, I fell asleep in the shower – the communal showers, separated by curtains – leaning up against the wall. Only once did I remain asleep for a number of hours, until I awoke to conversation; others from the dorm had entered the shower stalls and were, ironically, speculating on my probably-revolting personal hygiene habits, since they had never seen me take a shower (normal college students aren’t awake at 5 a.m., my customary scheduled window for scrubbing fry stench off my skin and anticipating three glorious hours of shuteye before class).
I finally quit the all-night diner gig, despite its lucrative income stream, when I realized that I had mastered the art of sleepwalking…through my “waking” hours. In addition to making plans I didn’t remember (or keep), one of my proudest episodes included coercing some fellow acting students to rifle through the student center lockers with me in search of a bag of potatoes (so I could make the french fries, of course). I said goodbye for good when I realized I had actually started dating someone while sleeping: one afternoon after Voice and Movement class (during which I had neither spoken nor moved, having fallen asleep during warm-up meditation), a classmate asked me if I was coming back to his place. Confused, I inquired if that was a really half-assed pickup line, or if we had made some sort of plans (which by now I was used to not remembering). Somewhat woundedly, he replied that I had come home with him on the last three Thursdays – had he done something wrong? The 10-block walk was appreciably awkward, as was the realization that I knew that when I opened the fridge there would be only Mountain Dew and ketchup (lucky guess?) and the freezer would contain mint chocolate chip ice cream. When the sex felt distinctly familiar, however, I grudgingly admitted that third-shift work was not within my purview.
Super-somnambulism also allowed me to stay in a years-too-long relationship, a decade later, with the Jackrabbit. This prize package, who coincidentally also worked nights, was chronically cranked up on Monster energy drink and coming up with new ways to be a better twelve-year-old boy. We had two different sizes of homemade giant Jenga (to test which was best for play, of course), enough camping gear that we were never going to lose any of our players to exposure on the Oregon Trail, and sufficient Guitar Hero paraphernalia to replicate any of Arcade Fire’s greatest hits in our basement. All of these pursuits were fair game at 3:30 a.m., as were amorous overtures. Despite my affection for sexual congress, it is roundly defeated by my addiction to sleep, and Jackrabbit was rarely successful in (a)rousing me – resulting in a very pouty partner who hadn’t dipped his lick stick in weeks. Eventually we settled on a compromise position: he was free to have sex with me at any hour – if he didn’t wake me up.
This arrangement proved surprisingly successful. Jackrabbit had earned his moniker not only for his over-caffeination but also for his monotonous, hour-plus concrete-breaking sexual endurance. As someone who needs approximately 94 good seconds of penetration to climax, I was not a great match; generally I started bitching (and smoking from friction) at around 20 minutes – tops. Permission to slumber straight through 68+ minutes of that was like a papal pardoning for me, and allowed him to hammer away until he slipped a disk or finally found the focus to work up an orgasm. Sleep-coma sex worked out pretty well until I finally got around to riding that blind, cancer-riddled relationship out to the farm to live with the other sick horses.
So Man-Friend’s grabby twitches, despite the occasional accidental Heimlich performance, both amuse me and make me feel he’s ever-so-slightly competitively fucked-up in the sleep habit department. Besides, I hardly ever fall asleep during sex these days.
After getting the impromptu scalp massage, I giggled myself to sleep when the old Jewish couple from the end of When Harry Met Sally popped into my head, explaining the beginning of their 40-year-successful marriage in thick Brooklyn accents: “I knew the way you know about a good melon.”