Drowsiness plagues me. It comes when alertness–paying keen attention to detail–or when focus requires my eyelids to recede in the upward position. This state often appears when someone is explaining something supposedly simple, like the owner’s manual of a car or piece of furniture that one must assemble on his or her own. A writer once declared that “Men Explain things to me”, but I have found that when an explanation is imparted to me on whatever subject, it tends to put me to sleep—whether it is delivered by a woman, man, or some combination of the two. Humans explain things to me and I tend to yawn with the voraciousness of a multicolored baboon in a large city zoo, who, upon baring its fangs, slips into that temporary and temporal haven known as the land of nod. My stepfather told me years ago that boredom is a luxury. But I find myself floating and meandering in the straits of the boring sea where, oftentimes, it is quite literally impossible to locate-by chance or otherwise—an urchin, clam or starfish to spark my interest. But this didn’t happen overnight or last week. My mind tends to drift. This was before the acronym A.D.D. became vogue. And there was a remedy for this dreamy condition utilized by fathers such as mine—of a particular generation—who prescribed F.I.A, a sort of D.D.T for A.D.D.
F.I.A.—a simple acronym with an equally simple translation: Foot in ass. The main culprit of my drowsiness has been other people. People are sleep-inducing. However, one is forced to endure their conversations and observances—which possess the keenness of a banana peel—that are, at best, surface snippets of dollar store depth; generic utterances washed down with canned laughter whose expiration date expired long ago.
People talk, oftentimes with no sense of when to end a conversation or if they are putting the other person to sleep. I recall as a child becoming drowsy in church. My parents attended a church in Central Florida. The pastor was animated yet I had a hard time paying attention. Perhaps I thought it was because church was for old people on the way out, hanging onto every word scoring heaven points the way many people acquire frequent flyer points. Once a visiting pastor came and delivered a sermon on the Gideon Bible. He was rather dull but he had a funny way of talking, possessing kind of a vocal tick that tickled my church funny bone. I remember 8 my hand over my mouth in an attempt to suppress my laughter. It finally erupted when I lifted my head upwards, towards the heavens and let out a very satisfying laugh: HA HA HA HA! My mother looked at me in shock. “Stop doing that!” she scolded. I sat with my head down. I still wasn’t convinced that a kid like me needed church but then I found out that a kid from the neighborhood got hit on his bike at an intersection and died. I remember not being so drowsy when I learned what happened.
In my sleep induced state I often visualize my brain transforming into the likeness of a slug. My old comedian friend had a name for people he thought were on the lower end of the brainpower spectrum: slothbrain. In my case, I believe that a comparison with a slug is more appropriate; a slug is slow and oozes, slogs across many types of terrain on its drawn out journey. My brain is smudged with slug jelly and my only refuge is slipping into sleep when encountered with the yawnbroker of which there are plenty.
I recall the first night on a new job some years ago. I reported to the site supervisor at an apartment complex where I was hired as a security officer. It was there that I met “Howell” in the guard office. He issued me a walkie-talkie and laid out a map of the property that I would patrol. He explained the location of parking lots and garages, the different driveways and thoroughfares, trash compactor locations, the clubhouse location and the difference between egress and ingress which I confused with egret, which he quickly clarified after informing me that he had studied ornithology in school and could loan me a book on different species of egret and that I would not, he assured me, regret upon scanning its pages. He spoke in a slow monotone, which, coupled with the florescent glare of the overhead lights, caused me to become drowsy.
My mind, the slug, was slowly moving away from the topic at hand. I remained awake despite Howell’s monotonous dribble that was interrupted when he took an occasional bite of a hot dog. However, I came close to drifting into sleep once or twice. I was saved by a trio of powerful images close by on the window sill. On it stood 3 plastic figures: A spaceman, a brontosaurus and Jesus. As sleep seemed to creep up I looked at the Jesus figurine that seemed to say, stay awake my son. The spaceman and brontosaurus affirmed with amen in unison. This was before “stay woke” became a catch phrase. I stayed awake in the wake of a multitude of yawns I was not able to suppress.
© 2020 Tony Robles