Some of the best naps I have ever had have been at the biggest award winning action movies. Often, I worry I have some sleeping disease like narcolepsy or African tsetse fly (“sleeping sickness.”) Never mind gunfire, dirty bomb explosions, and car chases; I have had some outstanding naps at blockbusters such as: “Die Hard 1-3”, “Independence Day”, and all the “Terminator” movies. Friends have asked as we exit a theater if I even liked the movie.
Where I say “I did and I’m looking forward to seeing the rest of it on pay-per-view.”
Please do not misunderstand, I love movies but for some reason, when the lights go down, I start the head bob and fight to stay awake.
Especially, after nine in the evening, when most anyone who knows me will warn, “oh that showing is after nine. Kris will never make it. We should go to the movie first then have dinner.” You might be thinking I’m getting on in age and rather old, but this was not uncommon in my teens.
My affliction is not limited to just movies. I have also slept through some of the best parts of big concerts and musicals. In fact, I have stopped going to concerts for fear of medical teams eventually hovering over me. Often waking up to others who argue or speculate on my condition.
“Maybe she is on drugs, look how relaxed she is” is a very common conversation I’ll hear.
“I think she needs a doctor. Someone call 911!” Which is where I usually wake up in confusion.
To appease my Mother, I agreed to see the musical “Billy Elliot” in London on a recent trip. The movie was good. I do remember watching the whole thing. The musical could only be slightly worse, at the time my view of musicals were not very high. As luck would have it, I stayed wide awake through the whole thing. The result was a new like for musicals. Fast-forward to early this summer, when I noticed “Les Mis” was on sale. I had to repay my Mother’s wonderful generosity, so I got us tickets for her birthday. Besides, what’s the worst that could happen?
As we arrived at the theater, I was worried about how tied I had been from a weekend writer’s conference and getting over a cold. There is something about the inspiration and creative juices that keep one up late at night while on a creative conference such as this. Similarly, my Mother had been taking care of my two-year-old-son all weekend. For some reason, he likes to get up at four in the morning while at her house. Both of us approached the theater with prayers centered around the topic of not falling asleep.
“Mom, remember the last time were here?”
“I do, it was for an opera neither of us saw.”
“Think we can stay awake through this?”
“Just stick to the plan and we will be just fine.”
The theater, we attended, and I have a long history. It was built in 1917 and renovated several times since, to it’s more modern appearance. If you’ve ever been to Washington DC, it is very reminiscent of Kennedy Center for Performing Arts, only very small. Just last year alone I slept through four operas while sitting in her comfortable chairs. I know, opera, who doesn’t sleep through them. Since, the two of us have given up buying opera tickets, we hope to sleep our way through the symphony and a few select musicals.
Barely making it through the first act, my head starts to bob a little, and my vision gets blurry. Imagining this is how it feels when you realize you’ve just been given a ruffie or you fell for, “Does this chloroform napkin smell odd?” That last line is all I can recall from a rather funny movie I recently slept through.
Shortly after I start the bobble dance, my Mom starts. From behind the two of us must have looked like synchronized bobble heads. I elbow her. She elbows me. This is our system of keeping each other awake. It’s worked across the globe at many a venue. We first discovered our waking method while bobble heading a wonderful French symphony in the heart of Paris. Where my Mother also tested a new method of rubbing her thumb on the program book to keep active an awake. Which resulted in angry French man telling her to stop because the sound was interrupting the music.
Most of Les Miserables’ second act I can’t totally recall. I do remember how good the first and third acts were, so it’s a good thing we only remember any first and third thing but never the middle. Soon as the second act started, I noticed I was lingering in the downward head position a bit too much.
For Christ’s sake, the next step was snoring!
We never want to go there. So, I devised a plan. A plan to keep awake. By my calculations, I could prop my head up by resting my chin on my hand, and my elbow on the arm of the chair. You know the look, one of pensive concentration. Then if I tapped my index finger on my cheek, it would be keeping me active. Resulting, in staying awake, I hoped.
Have I mentioned I wear glasses? A smart pair of black Ralph Lauren glasses. Those glasses are what flew off my face as I did the mother of all head bobs. My chin flew off my hand, and darn near broke my neck as it fell. The glasses so violently left my face. My first thought was that some jerk had thrown something at me. Gotten tired of watching my head do aerobics while he watched the show, and launched his program at me. There I sat, perfectly still except my eyes as they scanned the crowd in front of me for the evil person.
Eventually, I looked up and noticed the stage was blurry. I realized it was my eye-glasses had launched off my face and into the aisle. Looking over to my Mother, she was fully in the downward head position, so I elbowed her. Her head rocketed up and snapped to full attention.
I looked at her.
She looked at me.
Looking at her again with squinted eyes she says, “What?”
I reached out into the aisle and grabbed my glasses, listening for any giggles that showed someone was on to me. Nothing. Eventually, I bobbed my head through the rest of the show. Waking enough to see the final, which was very good. So good, in fact, I bought the DVD and hope to catch-up to what I missed. It turns out, I left the theater so rested, it was 3am before I got back to sleep.