Have you ever started awake, looked your partner in the eye and yelled, “Choose the purple one or the pig won’t take the right trail!”
In the moment you yelled it, it made perfect sense. It was of vital importance, and she HAD to know!
But a half second later, as the sleep fog dissipates from around your brain, you haven’t the faintest idea why.
Now she’s staring at you from three or four steps further away, a wild look in her eyes as she calculates the distance to the broomstick and gasps, “Don’t let it trample the elephant canning the peaches!”
It turns out she had been dozing, too.
Or maybe your house isn’t as interesting as ours.
It’s because of this phenomenon that the two most interesting times to start a conversation with someone is right before she falls asleep or just before she’s fully awake. It’s mostly gibberish and nonsense, but usually no less strange than the world at large generally is – just more fun.
I’ve been known to prime the pump, so to speak, by chatting amiably with persons nodding off to sleep. In fact, it seems to happen to me quite often.
When I notice someone once again has nodded off in the middle of one of my stories, I begin the experiment. Somewhere between consciousness and the unconscious, the mumbling begins.
If I ask, “What did the bunny say about the black hole?” I’ll hear something like, “Hmm? Divide the hypothesis by the hippopotamus and … sknxx … turn right. Ghghghghonk…”
I suspect that many “Saturday Night Live” skits and chart-topping songs were written this way.
It doesn’t work on me, of course. I’m too smart. Instead of gibberish, many brilliant ideas have hit me just as I’m drifting off to sleep.
The problem is they leak out of my head during the night. I’ve tried wringing out my pillowcase into a cup in hopes of reconstituting some of these great ideas, but it never works. They’re gone.
I probably would be a millionaire 17 times over already except for this leakage. It’s a mystery of the mind.
That’s what’s at work here. On the list of the “The Top 10 Mysteries of the Mind” as published by LiveScience, No. 10 is why do we dream and how do dreams work, No. 9 is how does sleep reorganize the mind, and No. 1 is what exactly is consciousness and is there any clear line from when one passes from it to unconsciousness in sleep.
Who cares why? It’s free entertainment.
Things can be even more interesting after your test subjects are asleep.
The siblings of a rather close relative of mine – I hesitate to say who since he probably still has the power to ground me – say that one night he sat up in bed and belted out “The Ballad of Davy Crockett.” All 20 verses. When he finished, he flopped back down and resumed snoring. He has since denied even knowing that there are 20 verses to “Davy Crockett.”
My mom says that once she woke up to see this same relative trying to scale the bedroom wall.
“What are you doing?” she demanded.
“Climbing the Empire State Building,” he said, and kept climbing. He finally must have reached the top because he stopped pistoning his arms and legs, sank back into his pillow and awoke the next morning unaware that anything had happened. I think he denied knowing that there was an Empire State Building, so how could he have been climbing it?
My college roommate made vicious claims that would lead one to believe that perhaps I was a chip off the ol’ block, but of course … oh, sorry … of course, these are unsubstantiated reports and therefore … um … cannot be trusted.
Anyway… oh, my … didja set the dial for re-entry? I don’t want … snixx … the asparagus to drive the truck unless he fastens his seatbelt this time… Skghghaaaxxx…