Monday, January 24, 2022

Bray Days: Sleep Schedules

Aside- This picture is only tangentially connected to the end of this story, but since the makeup came much better than a couple years later when I did the whole costume, I put it here. 

Jesse and I had known one another since first grade. One Legend of how we met is that my allergies had me sneezing on my really cheap, ridiculously thin, yellow math paper every day and ruining it. He suggested I turn my head . . . 

And the next day I sneezed on his math paper. 
Neither of us is sure if this is anywhere near the truth.
We were both warned about friendships not surviving rooming together at college, and have seen examples of other best friends that had parted ways after sharing a dorm room for a couple of months. (Or in some cases, weeks.) We never had any major issues. We did, however, have completely different approaches to scheduling and sleep. While this didn’t lead to conflicts, it did lead to discrepancies.
I would usually panic about due dates far in advance. Therefore, it was as if I was working up to the last minute, but I had an artificial “last minute” in my head that would drive me. Jesse was much more driven by the actual last minute. This was not surprising, as I’d lived through middle school requests of, “Jeff, this paper film is due next period; please help me connect these fifteen pages together in the back of science lab with the longest piece of continuous Scotch tape in school history!” 
Meanwhile, he was used to talking me down from regular, artificially self-inflicted, panic attacks.
While this did cause our sleep schedules to diverge radically on many occasions, we both immediately learned we were not getting enough sleep in the normal fashion.  The discovery of the benefits of between class naps was a key one. Jesse would often return from a morning lecture and state in a bearish voice, “Who’s been sleeping in my bed?   
IT’S ME!” 
Then he’d leap in and pass out until his next course. 
When visiting, his girlfriend described my returning from morning classes as, 
*slam – plump- rustle, rustle, rustle –zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz*
Due to our methods, around project and exam time he was more likely to be awake and working most of the night, while I learned I needed the most sleep at that point to mentally function. During the week, he and I  were basically Ernie and Bert. (Delineated by their inflatable heads that my Mom supplied us with as one of several "dorm warming" gifts.)  Because he had a girlfriend, (Nyra, now his wife) back in Massachusetts, he’d often use the weekends he didn’t go back home as study blocks. I usually used weekends as the time to relax and de-stress. At those times, we pivoted roles slightly. He was still Ernie, but I was Cookie Monster.
The sleep schedule separations could cause a few issues because then, like now
 I slept like the dead. 
Now, the only way my wife can gently get my attention when I'm snoring is by repeatedly punching me in the head. 
So she says. 
I have noticed I snore more on days I've forgotten to do important things. 

Back then, it meant late night college noises wouldn’t wake me up…even if they woke me up.
Translation: There were times I'd have interesting reactions during huge amounts of noise from the crowded freshman hall in the wee hours of a weeknight.  (So I’ve heard.) 

I’d get out of bed, stomp to the door, throw it open, then rant and growl unintelligibly at everyone out there in a completely incomprehensible and non-verbal, but highly threatening manner. Following that outburst, I’d slam the door and go back to bed. 
I never had ANY memories of doing this, but was told it happened many times, scaring folks into silence.
One night after I turned in but before entering The Dead Zone, I heard Jesse outside the door complaining that he’d forgotten his key. He was explaining to one of our neighbors. “If I knock on the door and wake Jeff up, he may kill me…but if I can slip by him and make it into bed, he won’t remember it in the morning.”
At that point, I was laughing too hard to conceal anything, and let him in.
I also learned that the “sleep like the dead” thing extended into the day after I awakened. Usually, for several minutes each morning, I’d zone completely out while staring at my hands like Rockbiter from the Neverending Story. ("They look like strong hands.") Jesse would often shock me out of this impression by yelling across the room, “Still got all ten fingers there, Jeff?”
I have to say in the seven semesters we roomed together Jesse never took advantage of my corpse like state…
Except once.
I had a clock radio with a cassette player. Our first year was well before I disassembled it for a project leading to it becoming possessed. Most mornings I would wake up to KISS music. Loud and stupid got me ready for the day. One of the best selections was Gene Simmons’s solo album, because the opening track, “Radioactive,” began with his demonic laugh that started low, and then crescendoed to the opening of the bass and drum heavy track.
One morning, I woke up for an early class and Jesse was playing Shirley Temple singing, “The Goodship Lollypop” on his stereo. As my mind returned to the land of the living, I was thinking, “Why the hell is he playing that so early in the morning?” I looked at my clock and realized it was already past time to get up. My next groggy thought was, “Good Lord, he’s playing it so loud I can’t hear my own radio next to my bed.” 

I reached over to increase Gene’s volume…
And Shirley Temple got louder.
“Sleep like the dead” was involved again, and this cycle repeated several times, with the curly locked monstrosity getting louder and louder. Finally, I realized he had crossed the room after I shut down for the evening and swapped tapes. 
You can see why I was glad he was on my side when the Practical Joke War arose, he said with a tad of foreshadowing. 


Dina Roberts said...

Lately, I've been reading your college series...and also some autobiographies and an autobiographical podcast episode. I'm so amazed (and maybe envious?) that you and these other writers have such strong memories about the distant past.

I have a few clear memories, many vague memories, and a lot of blank spots. Even with all my diaries....Sometimes they trigger memories but probably just as often, it's like a stranger wrote them.

Jeff McGinley said...

Thank you. As will be evident in some of the later posts, (and Scott's comment on the first one) not all the memories are as strong as they appear.

Stuff sticks in my head, but I have no control of what. (So- good at trivial pursuit, bad at remembering why I'm in the supermarket.)

The fact that something was a funny story makes it stick more because of multiple tellings, but also adds the risk of it slightly morphing over time. The details of those offset that there are a lot of blank spaces around them.

Dina Roberts said...

That makes sense: funny story helping it stick. I think this is with my life and my family as well. We have a handful of often-told stories. It comes to the point where it's hard to tell if we're remembering the story or the actual happening.

Jeff McGinley said...

That is the hard part. And as a lifelong Stand Up Comedy fan, I tend to word smith carefully as I work on the story. The scary part is there are a couple of "extended family stories" I've told over the years, and when I reached out to family to confirm a specific detail, I learn it never happened in our family.

Kinda makes me wonder where it came from.

Dina Roberts said...

OR it could be that it happened, and you're the only one that remembers.

Sometimes there could be one person who has the superior memory abilities OR one person who is the only one willing to remember certain things.

If not's likely a multiverse issue.

Jeff McGinley said...

There are a (very) few cases where the first part could be right

But some (where it's a family story that happened before my time that I thought a specific person told me, and that person and everyone from their generation has never heard of it) I think you're right about the multiverse angle.