I Heard Many Things in Hell
I couldn’t sleep in a room with a ticking clock until I was twenty-five years old. I’m not a light sleeper. That is like the one sleep issue I don’t have. I’ve suffered from insomnia my entire life and struggled with night terrors. I have a neurological condition called Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome that is just as awesome as it sounds, and often strikes in the very early hours of the morning. Oh, and I have cats. So me and sleep, we aren’t the best of friends. But, none of these things are the reason for the clock thing.
That’s my older sister’s fault.
The same summer that a certain man with a whip entered the theaters we got in a huge fight. You see, me being of better taste and breeding, I wanted to go see Raiders of the Lost Ark. I’d seen it three times already in California where I lived most of the year with my mother. I knew its brilliance, and I knew that Harrison Ford was the end all be all. KNEW [B1] it.
My sister? Yeah. She wanted to see a certain other movie with an animatronic owl. And a much inferior lead. I believe history has shown me the winner in this debate. Not only as to the quality and sustainability of entertainment value of the movie. But also to my taste in leading men. Ladies and gentlemen, I hand you my exhibit A:
And, as my exhibit B, I offer not only his filmography, and his recent stint on a Real Housewives franchise, but this:
Also, Ford is nine years older than Hamlin, and still laps him in every category from cool to looks to talent.
I won the argument, probably my status as visiting child helped me a little. And that probably angered my sister all the more.
You’d think she would have been happy I had enriched her life with Nazi face-melting (35 year old spoiler alert). But no! There would be revenge.
What would be suitable? Diabolically brilliant, even? Fanny is a bad sleeper, she knew not only because she shared a room with me so was witness to my crying and running to puke, but also my strange and sentimental falling asleep rituals. The last thing I said to someone tucking me in had to be “I love you” and the last thing I wanted someone to say to me was “I love you, have sweet dreams.” If there was conversation after that, those words had to be repeated. This infuriated my sister, who didn’t understand that I believed I might die in my sleep and I wanted badly for the last thing I said to my family to be I love you and that I believed firmly that if the last thing I heard before I feel asleep was sweet dreams, the monsters would stay at bay.
The morning after the movie my sister dug in her closet and came out with an old record. On one side was a narration of Washington Irving’s The Headless Horseman on the other was Poe’s The Tell-Tale Heart. I hated both these readings.
My sister smiled at me and plopped the record onto our stereo. I left the living room and went into our room and closed the door.
The volume on the stereo went up. I bolted from our room into the garage.
The volume continued to increase.
I fled the house.
“THA-THUMP! THA-THUMP!! THA-THUUUUMMMMPPPP!”
Turns out Roff is such a small town that there is pretty much nowhere a small child can run to that will drown out the sounds of Edgar Allan Poe played at top volume in the living room of the Methodist Church’s parsonage.
For hours I heard the thumping of the narrator’s foe’s hidden shame. I finally hid in the closet in our bedroom with a pillow over my ears and cried. She eventually bored of the game, or my step-mother came home, I’m not sure which. But it stopped and that night after our parents had tucked us in my sister told me she loved me and wished me sweet dreams.
I actually think she even meant it.
But the damage was done. For nearly two decades after that day, I was unable to fall asleep if there was a ticking clock in the room with me.
And I still like the last thing I say to my kid before she goes to sleep to be “I love you, sweet dreams.”
And Harrison Ford kicks butt on Harry Hamlin any day of the week.