For as long as I can remember, I have never been a fan of sleepovers. I was that annoying kid that never wanted to stay over at anyone else’s house. I always left early at slumber parties. And I never, ever wanted to stay over at my boyfriend’s houses. It had nothing to do with them seeing me the next morning or the fact I'd have no makeup on and a terrible case of dragon breath. No, actually it had to do with the fact I couldn't sleep next to someone. I couldn't sleep in the same room with someone. I was a snugglephobe.
The sleep disorder didn't just apply to boyfriends. It went so far as friends.. And well, anyone. Except for my cat, Vegas, but that's because she minds her own space too, and typically just sleeps on her designated blanket. Personally, I just hated lying next to someone, even if that someone was my significant other. But that doesn't make me a frigid bitch. Maybe when I'm ready to sleep I want to actually sleep. But if I'm next to someone I feel like I have to be conscientious of my space and respectful of theirs.
When I go to sleep, it’s like a showdown at the O.K. corral. And this bed ain’t big enough for the two of us. Maybe I just like my space. I can't explain my weirdness or the logistics of it. I just enjoy being able to stretch out and lay where I want, without feeling like I'm intruding on someone else’s personal space.
It wouldn't be so bad if I didn't always end up with a cuddler. No matter how big or how bad ass the guy, I always seemed to get stuck with the kid who had once been the runt of his litter or had mommy separation issues. You know, the kind that doesn’t sleep next to you, but practically on top of you. Maybe I could sleep stomach to someone, but why the need for full body contact? They were like puppies that weren't properly weaned from their mother. I mean, I'm laying next to you. Isn't that enough? Why hump my leg? And given the size ratio between the guy and me, it was only a matter of time before they rolled over and it was.. Bye bye Jenn.
Most people can trace their phobias back to a certain point in their life. And while this one stems back as far as childhood, I remember an instance more recently that totally put my snugglephobia in full throttle. A few years back, I had dated this guy for a few months when we ended up staying out late and drinking at a club for a buddy of his birthday. I had been the designated driver of the group, so drinking was kinda out of the question. I was also dead tired when we rolled out of the club in the middle of the night. Not wanting me to drive home by myself in the dark, he insisted I stay at his place and just leave in the morning.
So I snuggled into his giant king size bed and relished in my ability to finally get off my feet. He slipped his left arm under my neck, and the two of us quickly dozed off to sleep.
But not for long.
You know how a dog has those super vivid dreams? The kind where they twitch in their sleep in hot pursuit of a cat or possibly a mailman? Well, apparently, I was dating Rick "Wild Thing" Vaughn because his left arm not only quivered in his sleep, it heaved a mid nineties heater just behind my shoulder blades. 3 1/2 innings later I was beginning to lose my patience with this starter. His strike zone was a little high. And he liked to pitch around the outside corner. I laid there watching the clock tick away at the early morning hours, praying they'd call this game on account of rain, wet dreams, or something.
Finally, at 5 am, as the sun began to peak through his bedroom shades, I had had enough. 6 innings, 5 K, 96 pitches later.. I called him out. I grabbed my shoes, my purse, and took my base. And I didn't walk, I ran. That would be the last time I slept next to someone for a long, long time.
Not having a steady boyfriend, these have been moot issues. If I have gone on dates, I've made it perfectly clear that the date ends when I'm ready to go to sleep. And said sleep will take place in my own bed, and no one else’s. Guys have farted. Guys have peed on me. Hell, drunk girlfriends have peed on me. People have sweated on me like they were participating in that weird hot room yoga session. Not to mention, it’s quite disgusting to wake up in someone else’s discarded dinner from the night before, post-digestion of course. If people have so little respect and awareness of their space and actions in their sleep, it made me wonder what I was doing in my dream state of mind.
What if I was bitch-slapping people? Or kicking them senseless like I was in that old school Street Fighter game?
Sleep is the one time a person has zero control over their actions, and also has zero recollection of them. I found this out the hard way, when I was prescribed Ambien a little over a year ago. For one, sleep eating became a real problem, especially when my roommate made his amazing pumpkin pie. I woke up the next morning, and he was less than pleased. I'd watch entire television programs, but couldn't remember anything past the opening credits. It made me very thankful for my DVR.. And some nights, I'd sleep walk butt-ass naked through my apartment. Luckily, no one but one of my girlfriends witnessed this.
Maybe I could train myself to sleep next to someone, with a Snuggie or a body pillow? But as I soon discovered, Snuggies are really just weak sauce backwards robes. And if anyone saw me wearing it, they’d swear I'd joined a cult. But the body pillow seemed to have real potential.
As I laid down for the first night in my bed with my surrogate sleep partner, I said my prayers and hoped for the best. There in the darkness of my room, I tried my best not to toss and turn. But something in the back of my head didn't seem to want to relinquish our sleeping quarters, even if it was only to a giant pillow. 3 hours of wrestling and unrest later, I tossed my fluffy sleeping experiment onto the floor. Sleep comfort my ass! And finally drifted off to sleep.
I know what you're thinking. How on earth have I ever been in a long term relationship? Or had slumber parties? Or ever survived band camp?
The answer is.. I dunno.
But last week, after spending countless hours on set and commuting, it finally happened. A buddy of mine offered to let me crash at his place. It was some god awful hour in the morning and I was really dreading the early morning commute back to work. So he told him he was more than willing to stay on his couch and pony up his bed for me that night.
One problem. By the time we made it back to his place it was probably 4 am or so and there were what appeared to be two dead bodies on his couch. Turns out a few of his roommates’ friends had just had one too many and didn't feel like trying to trek it home. After surveying the situation, we came to our conclusion: We'd have to sleep next to one another. I debated with my inner self about actually going home, but cabbies make a practice of ripping people off in the middle of the night, especially if you're going to Jersey. And forget about taking the trains! Only the most derelict and blacked out drunkards took the train back to 'Boken after midnight. So it looked like I was stuck there.
As we laid down on his ginormous bed, I practically drew a line down the middle.
"Look," I said. "I have a real big problem sleeping next to people. I'm doomed to live in a house that is set up like the old 1950's ones. You know, with the two beds. I just have this thing about my personal space. I know it sounds nuts, but I haven't slept next to someone in ages. So I apologize if I kick or scream or rattle off random bits of my deepest darkest secrets in my sleep. And as for you. Just.. Keep your hands and feet in your space and we will be just fine."
He gave me an odd look and laughed at my awkwardness.
"Just go to sleep ya nut job. We both like boys, so this shouldn't be an issue."
I'm pretty sure he was lying about the second part, but I laid down nonetheless.
I put my head down on his comfy pillow and began my staring contest with the being I had come to know as my archrival.
"So. We meet again ceiling."
I gave the textured ridges of the hardest stare of my life, but finally conceded my defeat.
Then... I woke up.
Rays of sun shone through his blinds, and I knew I had done it. I had actually fallen asleep! I hadn't kicked anyone, or punched anyone. And let's face it; girls don't fart, so I hadn't embarrassed myself there either. Maybe there was hope for me yet.
As I did the walk of shame home in the previous days clothes I couldn't help but laugh at myself. What had I been so crazy about? I had survived a night in bed with another human being, and given the cold weather - I think I almost liked it.
What?... This Southern girl still needs a space heater. ;)