Journal entry: November 19, 1987 (age 18)
“I’ll take Jm J. Bullock to block…SNORE…huh, what?!”
I lifted my head from the cold desk, and blearily surveyed the room around me. It was a lecture hall. An empty, cavernous lecture hall, cast in the eerie glow of recessed fluorescents. Slowly, the synapses of my waking brain construed that I had fallen asleep in my freshman Survey of Chemistry class. This was not an unusual occurrence, given SUNY Oswego’s draconian decision to start the class at the ungodly hour of 9:35 a.m. What was unusual was the fact that I had slept through the entire class.
I thought about this for a moment. Not only had I slept through the class, but I had slept through the noisy departure of some 150 college students who had surrounded me. They had clambered over and around my blissfully snoozing shape. Some had probably paused for a moment to listen to my soft jabbering about girls, food, and pajamas, or to marvel at the expanse of drool creeping from my open, quivering maw. How could I possibly have slept through their jokes, their laughter, their boisterous derision?
Perhaps Professor O’Donnell’s explanation of valence bond theory had been interrupted by a particularly violent snore of mine, prompting him to plot a minor conspiracy. He might have instructed my classmates to leave in silence, so that I would awaken to a room that was empty, yet filled with shame. (I pictured him chuckling to himself in the parking lot, savoring his Petri dish of cold revenge.) My prevailing thought was, “Hmm, about five minutes ago, I looked really stupid.” But strangely, I did not feel shame. I found it hard to get embarrassed about something after the fact, especially something that I was not really present for. The staring eyes, pointing fingers, and refrains of “Who’s that idiot?” had exited the hall long before my consciousness had re-entered it.
I was, however, confused. I reviewed last night’s activities in my head, to determine if there was reason for me to be so profoundly tired. I had rehearsal for the play I’m in, but that had been going on for weeks. Joining my roommate, Danny, in a late-night Domino’s pizza was pretty standard. I always stayed up for Letterman’s Top Ten List. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary.
Perhaps my mistake had been a decision, just as I sat down in class, to rest my head on the desk “just for a minute.” Usually, I was able to hide my classroom naps by propping an elbow on the desk, and resting my head against the hand that shielded my eyes. This arrangement was intended to make it look, from the perspective of whatever annoyingly alert professor was speaking at the time, as though I was concentrating on the illegible notes scrawled and sprawled before me. Today’s novel, unabashedly restful posture had made no such pretense, and had left me open to the scorn of my peers.
As I lumbered out onto the windy campus, I wondered which would be less fun – going to our next meeting of chemistry class, or the final exam.