If my wife will permit me, I’d like to run a really high-brow series through here. I don’t know exactly what I’d like to call it, maybe something more like “Me and Sleep vs. Things”. Because that’s pretty much the theme.
See, life has themes. One of mine is “things crawl on me in my sleep”. I wish I didn’t have enough stories with this theme to run a whole series, but I do. Let’s begin.
The scene opens in a room. A very tiny room. The tiny-ness is important, because if it were larger, I could have just moved out of Hell’s way. But as it was, I couldn’t. It was so tiny, in fact, that I’m pretty sure it was a pantry once.
My parents were missionaries in Nigeria, so I was there for 9th grade. It was my fourth year in the country, and I had pretty much lost my grip on reality by that point, because that’s what Nigeria does to you. That’s why they arrest goats there. So I was operating pretty much within the framework of, “Oh screw it, sure, why not?” As in: anything’s possible.
BUT, as most people go—sane or otherwise—I like stuff to stay out of my bed.
That, as it turns out, is not a luxury Nigeria affords.
So, I’m in my tiny room, asleep one morning, when the impossible—once again—happens. I’m laying in bed. I open my eyes to stare up at the bare rafters of my tin-roofed bedroom. I see a magical creature.
Sure, why not.
I’m not explaining well enough exactly how tiny my room is, and exactly how few places there are in it to run from Magic. So here’s a picture:
Now, the key element in all of this is vulnerability. I’m in my tiny room. My happy place. BUT, I’m in my bed. In my underwear. I’m not wearing good heavy stomping-sized shoes. I’m not wearing jeans to deflect Satan’s bullets. I’m wearing boxers. Heck, in 9th grade I didn’t even have any chest hair or a sweet beard to protect me. I feel completely vulnerable and unprepared.
So, I’m laying there like a baby lamb, still half asleep. Waking up to a sunny African morning. The birds are chirping away outside. I open my innocent, sleepy eyes, and hanging from my rafter, I see this:
Immediately, I notice that it’s twitching back and forth. It has 8 legs. It has 2 tails. It is not a spider. The flow chart for my reality doesn’t accommodate this. I notice in the very center of its body, a single massive, bulging eye staring down at me, while the body continues to twitch.
Usually, when I first wake up and Something That Doesn’t Exist stares at me I’m like, “Ok, this is one of those crappy dreams where you think you’re awake, but really you still have to trick yourself through like 8 of these fake wake-up dreams that they only use in crappy horror movies.” But then my brain convinces me I’m really, truly awake.
Then, Insanity twitches one last time, slips off the rafter, swings desperately by one of its 8 legs, and then falls on my bare, hairless, innocent lamb-like chest.
And, I commence to lose my crap.
I make a sound like a choo-choo and run in place on my pillow—because I can’t go anywhere in that Stupid Tiny Room. Satan’s Minion slowly thrashes on my sheet.
Eventually, I notice that it’s actually TWO things. Two lizards, that we all called Push-up Lizards (duh, because they like to do push-ups—again, welcome to Nigeria). They have glossy black bodies, and bright orangish-yellow heads and tails. They are about a foot long, tail and all. So about two feet long, in this case.
Somehow, one fine African morning, these two lizards had gotten into a fight, and one of them had been like, “Oh yeah, PONK? Well—I EAT UR HED!!!”
And thus, was my grip on sanity ever-so-slightly-more loosened.