This time it started with Miss Peggy motioning for me to dance with her to the music of “Shake, Rattle and Roll.”
Your grandparents will remember that as a prototypical rock song from the early 1950s – a song they danced to at sock hops. It had words and music and a beat. The words' meaning was more sexual than philosophical. Sample line: “I'm like a one-eyed cat peepin' in a seafood store.”
I never danced to the song. I was born without connecting neurons between my brain and my feet, and I never learned to dance.
I remember once touring the old Soviet Union when a band struck up as we were dining in Erevan, Armenia. Barbara, wife of my friend and colleague, Brian Dickinson of Providence, R.I., invited me to dance. I protested that I would just make a fool of myself.
“So who knows you in Erevan?” she asked.
I was thoroughly rattled, and I'm sure I was shaking because the room was full of strangers, and I knew my two left feet were about to be exposed. But I rolled my eyes and managed some kind of movement.
So when Miss Peggy motioned me to dance the other night, I mustered the nerve to approach her and escort her to the floor.
She was wearing seductive knee-high boots, and I figured people would be looking at her, not me.
As I drew near to her, I noticed that I was barefooted. I decided not to let that get in the way of my dancing.
I reached the floor, all right, but Miss Peggy didn't follow me. Before I could shake or rattle, I rolled. Next thing I remember was Miss Peggy's sweet voice overhead inquiring,: “Are you all right?”
“I'm OK,” I mumbled, taking my time about getting up. It wasn't that I was disabled or anything. I was still not fully awake.
Somehow, I've got to figure out how to tell when a dream is leading me off the bed and down to the floor. The last time I rolled out of bed, I was chasing my long-dead dog, Candi, trying to effect a reunion, though I don't believe there's a resurrection for animals. Candi ran into a ditch, and I followed. It took me a long time to hit the bottom of that ditch, and I was wondering what I had fallen into. Then I hit the floor.
The time before that, we were living in a condo, and our bedroom abutted the neighbors' unit. I don't remember what dream led to my fall, but the neighbors later recalled that they were awakened during the night by what felt like an earthquake.
I think the tendency to roll out of bed is the result of a transfer of genes between generations. My Aunt Ruby sleepwalked, so she was usually out of bed and roaming the house before waking up. One time, though, she climbed through an upstairs window and fell to the ground. She she was halfway up the stairs before coming awake. My grandparents once awakened as my Uncle James sleepwalked into their room.
“James, what are you doing?” asked Grandma.
I will not quote James directly, because he used Anglo-Saxon phraseology to let them know that he was using Grandma's shoe for a potty.
Thank goodness, I never did that. Miss Peggy has a ton of shoes, and she cherishes them all, so were I to defile one of them, I would quickly find myself sleeping with the cats on the patio.
I've been treating all this as a joke, but the kids take it seriously.
“You are so scary,” posted daughter Angie on Facebook. “Do all your young'uns have to pitch in and buy you a safety net for your bedroom now?”
I assured her that our bedroom floor is covered in soft carpet, and the only danger is that I might strike the nightstand by my pillow. She had a helpful suggestion: “Maybe Mom could sew some little pockets to the bed skirt for all your accoutrements when you disassemble at night. Then you could get rid of the nightstand.”
Thanks, but I have no intention of closing my eyes while a bunch of accoutrements lurk in a pocket of the bedskirt.
The problem is that I have a tendency to sleep on the very edge of the bed. I can go to sleep in the middle of our queen-sized bed, but when I wake during the night, I find myself hanging off the edge. Maybe we need to take a leaf from our ancestors' book: When daughter's beau had to spend the night, he would sleep in the same bed as daughter, but the old folks put a board down the middle to make sure (they thought) that the two slept separately. The practice was known as “bundling,” and it had nothing to do with AT&T, Comcast or Verizon. I need that board down the side of the bed to make sure I don't roll off.
Miss Peggy recently took care of another sleep problem I have. When we traded our pillow-top mattress for an adjustable mattress, we elevated the new mattress to the level of the pillow-top. That way, when I'm getting out of bed, I can just put my feet on the floor, and I'm standing. But as age takes the spring out of my legs, I find it a bit of a challenge to climb into bed. So my wife bought a cushioned bench to place at the foot of our bed, allowing me to step comfortably up to the mattress and crawl to my normal place at the head of the bed.
With a bench at the foot and a board down the side, I should sleep safely. And maybe the next floor I hit will be a dance floor.
Gene Owens is a retired newspaper editor and columnist who graduated from Graniteville High School and now lives in Anderson. Readers may write to him at WadesDixieco@AOL.com. To read other writings, go to www.wadesdixieco.com.
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