Eric Bergeson column: Sleeping in an open field? Grandfather was a connoisseur of naps
As a life-long napper, I have become connoisseur of naps. Naps come in different shapes, sizes and depths. All nap types have their place, but some naps are more rewarding than others.
I learned the art of napping from my grandfather, an polished napping virtuoso. Just to give you an idea: Grandpa could-and did-nap on a plowed field.
Many times uninitiated people came running up to the office: "Melvin's dead! Melvin's dead!"
They didn't know that just because Grandpa was stretched out spread eagle on a plowed field, arms above his head, looking quite dead, didn't mean he was dead. He was napping.
Those of us who knew him knew the ritual. When we saw Grandpa sprawled on the plowed ground, we'd bump the horn a bit. He'd raise his hand and we knew it was a nap, not a heart attack, and go on with our work.
Grandpa also napped on the sixth tee of every golf course he ever golfed. If the sixth tee lacked a shade tree, he'd wait until the seventh. But nothing stopped his nap.
Not all of Grandpa's naps were on plowed fields or golf courses. His most common napping venue was the couch. When life got too busy, you could find Grandpa on the couch under the afghan, no matter how hot the temperature.
I don't think he slept much. When the phone was for him, he would jump up to answer it as if he were wide-awake. If company arrived, he got up without a yawn.
The couch nap was, I think, Grandpa's way of getting away from people for a while. Most people honor a nap. If you need an hour off from people, what better way to get away than pretend you are sleeping?
Grandpa also napped in his recliner, his desk chair, and in the pew during sermons. In fact, Grandpa napped during any speaker other than himself. He could introduce a speaker, sit down and be fast asleep before the poor guy got into his second paragraph.
I cannot claim Grandpa's napping excellence, but I am polishing my napping abilities. My proudest achievement so far is falling asleep in the food court of a shopping mall.
Second on the list is my ability to fall asleep at a rest area within five minutes of shutting off the car. Forty minutes later, I wake up, bleary eyed but utterly refreshed, ready to drive another four hours.
I have napped in doctor's offices, in the center of a student union, on a city bus, in many libraries, and during loud but boring concerts.
Although public napping is the most interesting part of my napping repertoire, it isn't the most satisfying.
When I am at work, I enjoy napping on the floor of my office while answering the remote phone without moving any muscles but those in my left arm. Most phone calls can be dealt with without waking up.
"Hello, when is it safe to plant tomatoes?"
"After the last frost."
Another favorite nap is the after supper snooze in the recliner with the television playing some stupid drivel. The laugh track mixes with one's dreams to create something better than the television show would have been awake.
A wintertime late Sunday afternoon three-hour napping bonanza might seem luxurious, but it's not worth the hangover. It takes forever to wake up, and then when you do, it is dark, you are disoriented, and you can't get to sleep again until three a.m. Monday morning.
But there's one nap that will never grow old. It comes after one has been forced awake way too early one summer morning, in time to see the sun rise.
Perhaps you had to take a relative to the airport to catch the 6:45 a.m. flight. Perhaps you stayed up too late the night before. But after you saw the sun rise and had some coffee, you realized that you wouldn't make it through the day without a nap.
So, about quarter to nine in the morning you lay down in the sunlight and melt into the couch. You don't move for two-and-a-half hours.
Paradise! I'd trade the interstate rest area cat nap, the plowed-field snooze, the recliner zonk, all other types of nap if I could have a woke-up-too-early on a sunny day mid-morning nap once per week.