When I was a kid I had to take an afternoon nap. And though I’ve always required more sleep than most, I hated it.
My mother was very strict about naps. (Apparently, if I didn’t get enough rest I would turn into a near demon, the transformation reeking havoc with my respiratory system.) She, or my sitter, Mrs. Hughes, would stealthily crack open the bedroom door. If caught reading a comic book or listening to my transistor radio with the ear piece, the items would be taken away, banished to the top shelf of the hall closet, temporarily, but still…
And I would be doomed to an even longer nap.
Consequently, I became an excellent fake sleeper. Mrs. Hughes was almost always fooled.
One time I rolled off the bed in my sleep. The loud thud prompted Mrs. Hughes to rush through my door where she found me, miraculously, fast asleep on the floor.
Never one to betray much emotion, I could tell she was worried when she sat me on my bed. She peered intensely into my eyes as she ran her large and meaty fingers over my scalp, an ever present cigarette dangling from her lips.
The ruse worked and backfired at the same time. I was allowed to get up, but I had to stay inside all day.
My mother–though far less gruff than Mrs. Hughes (in fact, not gruff at all)–was a harsher critic of my acting skills. But she had to earn a living, so Mrs. Hughes oversaw the “siestivities”.
You got what I did there, right?…siesta…”siestivities”…
Just making sure. Anyway…
The required duration was about two hours. In other words, an eternity. There was no clock in my room, though it wouldn’t have mattered if there was; I had trouble telling time. By the time I learned, I no longer had to nap.
I was off the clock.
But prior to that, there I would lay, miserable, with nothing to do. Perhaps I could have gone to sleep if I’d tried, but that never occurred to me. I had to resist. And resistance hinged on my ability to gauge the lapse of time.
Obviously, Mrs. Hughes enjoyed my naps more than I did, during which she ate lunch, folded laundry and rolled cigarettes–all while soap operas droned.
How much more she enjoyed them is debatable. Mrs. Hughes wasn’t the soap opera type. (When I was at her house she watched Gunsmoke and Wagon Train.) But we didn’t have cable so that was that.
That and PBS.
Of course, I couldn’t have cared less about soap operas if not for one thing…
At noon I ate lunch. I knew this because that’s when Mrs. Hughes would turn on the television. Hi Noon, the local afternoon news and “entertainment” show was on. I ate my lunch on a TV tray so I could watch Hi Noon regular, Roscoe the clown, draw clowns…and dogs, and cats, and cowboys, etc…
I didn’t like Roscoe, not because he was a clown–he wasn’t creepy–but because I just didn’t. Nonetheless, I pretended to. It would have hurt Mrs. Hughes’ feelings if she’d known truth. Her son, Travis, a surly high schooler who spoke all of five words to me, was a great artist (of that I can attest–I saw some of his cartoons; amazing and amazingly explicit.) Apparently, as a child, he was inspired by Roscoe.
After Hi Noon it was nap time. No sooner had Mrs. Hughes situated me between the the blanket and the top sheet ( I wasn’t allowed to untuck the sheets like I did at night) I would hear the those painfully pretty piano chords, then the dramatic counter chords, the swell of strings…and more strings…building…building…toward the bridge…
The Young And The Restless was on.
After The Young and Restless, there was As The World Turns. And then, The Guiding Light.
After that, I could get up.