Congregation

Archived Story

One day I’ll achieve deep sleep

Published 6:57pm Thursday, February 27, 2014

So, did you feel the Edgefield, S.C., earthquake?

Paul didn’t.

The subsequent aftershocks?

Paul didn’t.

The huge thunderstorms that just rolled through?

You guessed it.

I’m not really surprised because in 1994, around 4 a.m. and precisely 10 seconds after my cat had stuck her paw in my slack jawed, snoring, mouth (something she had never done prior or since), I first noticed the leaves on the plant by my bed begin to tremble.

That was followed by the feeling of our house being dropped a foot, and then the most violent shaking I have ever felt, as we experienced the 7.1 (which means it was 30 times stronger than Edgefield) Northridge earthquake.

You’ve heard the obligatory, “It sounded just like a freight train!” description regarding tornados? Well, your Aunty Pam is here to tell you that a freight train is a mere, anemic, rumble, compared to the roar of the earth bellowing all around you, like sensurround.

Paul was sleeping through it. Smacking his lips while his body was being lurched from side to side like a scene from ‘The Exorcist.’

“Wake up!” I cried, shaking him as hard as I could but being drowned out by the quake’s roar, “Paul, Paul, wake UP!”

I heard the crash of our television, in the living room, being tossed on its face from the entertainment center.

I saw the plantation shutters on our bedroom windows repeatedly slamming back and forth. I heard all the kitchen and bathroom cabinets fly open and contents crashing against the wall.

Had we any breakable stemware that would have been in splintered ruins, as well.

Paul was still sleeping.

Eerie, blue, explosions flashed through the Los Angeles sky – transformers blowing, right and left.

A million car alarms were shrieking. The house was shaking so violently that it wasn’t possible to get off the bed and the stucco walls, before my eyes, began to undulate. Our neighbor’s chimney crashed to the ground.

I screamed as loud as I could into Paul’s ear and frankly, I don’t have a very high pitched voice, so it probably sounded like James Earl Jones gargling, but finally, finally, Paul woke, yelling,

“What? What?” before realizing he had just been roused from a gorgeous slumber to the instant realization that he was on the verge of being killed.

I want to know what it’s like to be able to sleep that deeply. It must be heaven, paradise even bliss.

As a kid, I could never get to sleep after being sent to bed by 8 p.m. In college, before I dropped out, I would fall asleep over my desk in my early class. I think the only time in my life I’ve ever slept well was in the 20-plus years I toured as a stand up comic.

When you have to be at work, very fresh and on your game, at 9 p.m., and the adrenalin keeps you up until about 3 a.m. (as well as the after hours open bar), one could sleep soundly until about the crack of noon.

Paul has slept like a 14-year-old Labrador since I’ve known him. Even more irritatingly, he’s that deeply asleep the second his head hits the pillow.

He can snore, as well, and is so dead to the world that once, out of frustrated fatigue, I swung a pillow full force at his head and there was no reaction whatsoever, except another perfectly timed snore.

I guess one of us has to be a light sleeper. One of us has to be able to spring to action at the sound of a strange car coming down our drive, or a kicking horse in its stall at night, or Rosie whining at the foot of the bed at 4 a.m. because she has to be let out to pee.

One of these days, it is my grim determination to experience what that sort of depth of sleep feels like and when I set my mind to something, it generally happens.

As it will be an open casket funeral, you might just get to watch me, too.

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