Recently I read an article about a woman who put a pair of sweatpants over her sleeping husband's head and pulled the drawstring. Horrifying, but understandable: Her husband was snoring.
I was reading the article in bed while my beloved sucked all the air out of the room with his own turbulent throat vibrations. I looked over at my snorting husband and felt a twinge of envy for that desperate wife. She would snooze peacefully, doing 20-to-life in a nice, quiet prison cell somewhere.
I sighed, poked Barry until he rolled over on his side, then turned out the light and attempted to go to sleep before he flipped over on his back again. I know the routine much too well.
I start: "Barry, do not sleep on your back!"
He pleads: "I won't—I promise."
I reply: "You will and you'll snore."
Sure enough, I'm right. Again.
Barry thinks he's the innocent party, because science and statistics are on his side. When I mentioned the poor woman who was driven to insane criminal action by her husband's incessant buzz saw, Barry reached into his nightstand drawer and produced a news article of his own.
"Look here," he said, handing me the magazine as he snuggled deep into the covers, on his back. "Some science guys did a study and found eight times more men than women snore. You know what that means?"
"Yeah. That eight times as many wives as husbands sleep with their pillows over their heads."
"That means majority rules," he continued. Then he quoted some other science guy who said male snoring is actually a clever defense system our early ancestors used to ward off dangerous predators such as carnivorous cats by mimicking their sounds.
"See," he said, "you should be grateful. I'm protecting your life."
I have to admit Barry's not the only one with annoying bedtime quirks. I wear a retainer at night. It keeps me from grinding my teeth, but not from drooling. Drooling is a trait some folks would find endearing, but unfortunately Barry is not one of them.
He also doesn't like my cold feet on his warm back, although I've pointed out it's biblical. ("If two lie down together, they will keep warm.") He doesn't find my habit of wearing heavy wool socks to bed particularly appealing either, so I lose all the way around.
But at least I don't snore.
Bedtime wasn't always like this. When we were first married we'd laugh over morning breath and chuckle over bed hair. Barry would say, "I like the way your smeared eye make-up makes you look like a raccoon."
And I'd tell him, "Of course I didn't mind your elbow in my ribs all night, and when you accidentally kicked me, I barely screamed at all."
Now, two decades later, being kneed in the back has lost its charm. And while I still find Barry's occasional jabbering in his sleep about catching pop flies somewhat entertaining, I find absolutely no redeeming social value in snoring.
Until just lately, that is. I'm afraid what began as a diatribe against my husband's nightly soft palate serenade has turned into a confessional. An unfortunate shoulder injury is preventing me from sleeping in my favorite position (on my stomach). So I have to sleep on my back. And, well, you get the picture.
(If you don't, Barry will draw you one: "Gee, Hon, not only did you keep the neighbors up last night, but your snoring peeled all the paint off the walls.")
As a result, I no longer consider snoring a moral deficiency or a character weakness. In fact, now I think snoring might be an indicator that all is well with one's soul. Of course, that's only if I fall asleep first. For the times when I don't and Barry's the one who's peeling paint and sucking air, I've got just the remedy—an icy pair of size- seven feet poised and aimed at his warm back.
Nancy Kennedy is a regular contributor to Marriage Partnership and the author of several books, including Honey, They're Playing Our Song! (Multnomah).
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