I’ve always been fascinated by that foggy state of consciousness between being wide-awake and in a deep, restful sleep. Strange things have happened while in that murky realm: visions of long-deceased relatives hovering about the room, complete conversations with a significant other about important matters that you can't recall and—my favorite—the inability to recognize the difference between a toilet and an expensive piece of furniture. My girlfriend is completely different. She is either completely asleep or wide-awake. There is no terrifying middle existence for her. And because of this, she’s usually the one responsible for jolting me out of my zombie-like state. I relish the opportunity to wake her up in unnerving ways. Here are five ways we’ve woken each other up. Yes, we’re still together.
Whispering softly into someone’s ear while they are conscious can be about the sexiest thing a person can do to another human being. What’s being said is a secret that only you and the other person know. Whispering while awake is an intimate and bonding affectation that any couple’s counselor will tell you is beneficial to the health of your relationship. Whispers can also have negative effects when used improperly or without forethought. Take, for example, the following incident: It is a Sunday afternoon, and I am asleep on a strange couch at the girlfriend’s parents' house. We are waiting on a severe storm to pass and had just consumed a large meal. Her parents leave to go check on a neighbor, and once they return, we plan on leaving. Again, I am asleep at this point. The next thing I remember is hearing the words, “They’re here. Nobody is hurt. Let’s go!” right into my ear. It must have been the matter-of-fact delivery of the lines or something in her voice, but I was sure that phrase had something to do with fighting off intruders. For about 15 seconds, I physically prepared myself for the fight of my life. No whispers, please.
I have a heightened sense of smell, which can be great when dealing with the nuances of cigars or a fine fragrance. Unfortunately, when asleep, I will remain in a state of olfactory alertness. For obvious reasons, this can end up being unpleasant. My own late-night productions—I’m trying not to say “farts” here—are as jolting as raw ammonia. If someone is burning anything within a mile, I can smell it, and it will keep me wide-awake. Our bedroom is surrounded by books, and I think sometimes I can smell them, too. This is weird, right? On mornings when my girlfriend gets up before I do, the first thing I always smell is her hairspray. I’ve started dabbing lavender essential oils on my arms at night to try and keep other scents away from my nose. The lavender just serves as a filter to other smells that pick up that note along the way. A pleasant smell to wake up to is bacon in a frying pan or maybe waffles. I like waffles.
“Sean, Sean! Get up! Oh, my God! What’s happening?!” is the worst possible way for your girlfriend to wake you up. This is the type of panicked shout used on me when our apartment started randomly flooding at 3:30 a.m. one Saturday night. I was completely jolted awake. Let’s break this down. The smoke alarm started beeping, and I assumed it was my alarm. There was a faint sound of running water that I ignored because I’m fairly used to the sound. A few seconds pass, and my girlfriend screams the above phrase. I was terrified. Hearing my name jolted me awake. Then came the demand to “get up” and do something about the situation. This was the equivalent to walking into a Subway and, instead of placing your order and watching your sandwich being constructed by an “artist,” a sandwich is just shoved down your throat by a large man with hairy hands. Actually, it’s not like that at all. Never mind. Anyway, so there I am, completely awake and expected to take action without any knowledge of the problem. “What’s happening?” "I don’t know, honey! I think we’re dying." We didn’t die. Our upstairs neighbor broke her toilet.
A bouncy song
My girlfriend is a deep sleeper and a grumpy riser. I should probably wear a protective cup when I wake up before she does because her tendency is to go right for my testicles with her foot. As many of my readers know, I like silly songs. There is a song I sing to my girlfriend on mornings when she just won’t get up. The lyrics are as follows: “Hey, Sunshine! Mr. Morning Sunshine! Gumdrops, silly goose, pumpkin kisses, chocolate mousse. It’s a beautiful day! It’s time to get up! Let’s greet ol' Mr. Sun!” and then I’ll scat a little bit like Satchmo while she flails about trying to connect a blow. She HATES waking up like this. Some mornings, I’ll even get out the guitar and serenade her awake with “Feeling Groovy,” which is just insufferable in the morning, for some reason.
The blanket game
This is not a game so much as it is an experience of slight to moderate torture. Here’s how it works. My girlfriend is asleep, and I slowly get up, fall quietly onto the floor and crawl to the foot of the bed. The goal is to act as much like a flesh-eating zombie as possible while simultaneously crawling up through the covers. She flips out every time. I’ll make these monster noises and grab at her feet. The only risk is getting kicked in the face—which has happened more than once. She’s started tucking the covers in at the foot of the bed so that it’s more difficult for me to get to her without her waking up. A variation of this is the WWF game, which involves waking each other with classic wrestling finishing moves, for example, the Macho Man’s bionic elbow or Hulk Hogan’s leg drop. I attempted a Snuka Splash once and almost broke the bed.