Monday, October 12, 2009

Week 39, Day 267 - "To Wake, Perchance to..."

“To Wake, Perchance to…”

Written by Joe Janes


267 of 365


Harry, 50s

(Lights up on Harry walking out of his bathroom in pajamas and with a toothbrush in his mouth. He brushes his teeth a bit while considering the audience. He steps off, spits, rinses and returns. As he speaks, he gets dressed in clothes that are inexplicably strewn throughout the room without rhyme or reason or rhyming reason. In one corner of the stage are a pillow and a rumpled blanket)


I used to sleep twelve hours a day. Twelve hours. Half of the day. Uninterrupted. People told me that was too much. Mainly my parents, but friends, too. “Harry, you sleep too much.” “Dude, you sleep too much.” My friends called me Harry. My parents called me Dude. To show they were hip. My friends and I could never plan anything in the morning unless I spent the night. And I was always late to school. As I got older, somewhere between graduating high school to graduating college, I went down to eight hours of sleep each night. A job job nailed it in place. Because, you know, eight hours. You’re supposed to do that. And I did. For a very long time. It’s respectable. Needed my eight hours. If I didn’t get it, fuck you and everyone around you. Eight hours of work, eight hours of sleep. Only fair. Tat for tit. That lasted till somewhere during the first wife. She needed ten hours of sleep, absolute darkness in the room and wore earplugs and a sleep mask. We didn’t have curtains, we had a blanket duct taped around the window. It was like sleeping in a sarcophagus. I was sleeping with the dead and not in any fun way. You open your eyes and it’s so dark and there’s nothing for your eyes to adjust to… it’s like you’ve gone blind. (He picks up a pair of dress slacks, sniffs the crotch to check for extreme funk, decides it’s okay and puts them on.) I couldn’t sleep like that. I went down to six hours in a split shift. Four hours, pee, then back for two hours. Sometimes I stayed up post-pee, surfed the net, did the dishes, drank coffee, but mostly I’d put in those two other hours. Do the time of six hours. One time, while surfing the net, I read that we spend one third of our lives asleep. I think it’s more, if you add in catnaps and just plain zoning out. Which makes me wonder, how do we know? (He finds a tie to put on, it is already knotted.) If that much of our lives is spent on sleep, how do we really know what’s awake? I’m not trying to be all woo-woo. It’s a serious inquiry (He says non-seriously.) I want to know why I love being asleep so much. Even though I don’t sleep as long as I used to, I’m good at it. It’s one of the few things I do really well. When my head hits the pillow, I get right to work. Roll up my sleeves and start sawing those logs. And I have great dreams. Wonderful dreams. Flying, rock star, sex. And none of that metaphor-turning-on-a-faucet-symbolic sex. I have sex. Steamy, rockin’, hip thrusting good stuff. Sans the nocturnal emissions. No fuss, no muss. (He finds a sports coat to put on.) And if that’s being awake, what the hell is this recurring nightmare I have of moving like a snail over asphalt crowded by other snails to a cubical cage in a barn full of cubicle cages where men and women in Italian lab coats carry clipboards and Blackberrys and give me tasks to complete in front of a screen and give me food and treats that come out of a machine when I press the right button? And then they make me crawl back home in a metal container that does not keep me fresh. Only to eat in a bigger, more comfortable cage, sit in front of another screen, and back to the business being horizontal and totally surrendering to the law of gravity. (He puts on his shoes. Stands, straightens out his clothes. Looks at his watch.) Right on time. (He crawls under the blanket, puts his head on the pillow and starts snoring. Lights fade.)