It was only ever meant to be a little dose of innocent shut eye. Just a momentary escape from Match of the Day, or the adverts in the middle of Rude Tube, or a conversation with her husband about what they’re going to do on New Year’s Eve.
But now she’s woken from what accidentally turned into a full-on sleep and she’s livid. Her eyes dart from side to side, searching for what will tonight win the title ‘Single Most Annoying Thing In The World’. Will it be that glass on the coffee table that’s been there since last night, or will it be that pair of shoes that she specifically asked be placed on the mat but that stand there on the tiles, mocking her. Or will it be her own inability to stand up without tripping over the throw she’s been sleeping under and looking like a dickhead.
It’s the same story every time:
Stage 1: The ‘little lie down’. She slides down the sofa ‘just to get comfortable’ whilst watching television. This is her first crucial mistake. Lying down is basically giving her body permission to drift off to snooze town. She might as well just throw back a shot of Night Nurse, sing herself a lullaby and be done with it.
Stage 2: The cover. Whether it’s a throw that lives on the sofa (for the sole purpose of accidental nap time), an over-sized gentleman’s jumper or a freshly washed towel, she’ll grab anything she can get her paws on and throw it over herself, just to make the sofa feel even more like a bed. There is, of course, a very nice and very available bed just upstairs but in the interests of not moving a single muscle, she’s convinced herself that the sofa is superior.
Stage 3: The gentle warning. A voice of calm will suddenly speak out across the lounge. “Charlotte, don’t fall asleep. Remember you don’t like it when you wake up on the sofa. Why don’t you just go to bed, hmmm?” She appreciates his concern (even if his tone is just a little patronising – doesn’t he have any faith in her?) but she’s only going to be here a few minutes so he needn’t worry – she is totally in control.
Stage 4: Deep sleep. Before she knows it, she is spark out, dead to the world. Only an earthquake or the Coronation Street opening titles could wake her now. And if the gentleman in the room has it his way neither of those two things is going to happen any time soon. He’s just going to plug in the X-Box and enjoy a little bit of calm before the inevitable post-nap storm.
Stage 5: The awakening. The time comes when he wants to go to bed. And because he’s a nice man, (and one who has heard many times that she doesn’t appreciate waking up to find herself downstairs alone – why does he think it’s OK to abandon her?!) he attempts to wake her. He has a number of strategies for this – from the gentle to the electronic. There’s the gentle shake, the relentless repetition of her name until she wakes up shouting “WHAT DO YOU WANT STOP GOING ON AT ME” or, for the more comatose episodes, he will ring her mobile and let the sudden vibrating of the device next to her startle her back into reality. She does not appreciate the call.
Step 6: The stomp. And now she’s awake. And for a number of reasons – none of which are anybody’s fault but her own – she is cross. She’s cross that she fell asleep on the sofa AGAIN, cross that she’s still fully clothed and now inexplicably BOILING, and livid that she now has to drag her sorry behind upstairs whilst feeling (and looking) like a zombie. And so along the way she’ll find anything to direct her fury at – an out of date pile of newspapers, a scarf that’s fallen on the floor, or a bowl that has innocently missed its go in the dishwasher (largely because she was eating marshmallows from it before she fell asleep clutching it to her chest). She is a walking, shouting example of why one should indeed never wake a baby, a dog or a sugar-filled, world weary woman.
Step 7: The regret. Just as her mum always said, everything does indeed look better in the morning. In the light of day she’ll see that actually that overflowing pile of washing doesn’t really make her so mad that she wants to throw all the clothes out of the window so they can just ‘bloody well get washed in the rain’; and that if she’s honest, she remembers now that it was actually her idea to turn the heating up before she drifted off to sleep and that of course nobody is trying to make her sweat herself into oblivion. She apologises to the most patient man in the world (and to the dishwasher which she remembers kicking for a reason she can’t quite recall) and promises just to get into bed next time she feels tired.
And so another day commences, another commute gets underway, and the clock ticks until yet another evening of dinner and warmth and ill-advised portions of sweet snacks turns into a one-woman battle to stay conscious. She must just try to stay upright for as long as possible, and then send herself to bed as soon as her eyelids start weighing her down.
Because there’s only so many times this man is going to have the energy to try and negotiate with a woman who wakes up and starts shouting at a pile of newspapers for failing to find their way into the ‘cocking recycling bin’.
And anyway, he did warn her that this would happen in the first place. He’s just not sure that now is the best time to mention it.
*By she I mean me, by her I mean me, and by Charlotte, I mean me. What do you mean you already knew that?