The Case of the Purloined Bathmat

The title of this post is misleading.  My bathmat wasn’t stolen.  I’m certain of that.  It disappeared during the night, and if anyone had gotten into the (studio) apartment, I would have heard him or her.

Although I don’t recall anything other than getting up once in the middle of the night to use the facilities and then returning to bed, I know that at some point I was sleepwalking.  That was how the bathmat disappeared, and damned if I can find it now.  I may have stepped into the hallway and dropped it down the trash chute during the “zone out,” but now it isn’t feasible to root through the neighbors’ garbage to find it.  It was really just a threadbare towel, anyway.

Most of us are aware of a couple of risk factors for sleepwalking: stress and medication.  Either one or both of those factors may have been involved last night, but I can also think of something unusual — and dumb — I did during my usual solitary Saturday night.

We’ve been warned that irregular bedtimes and excessive screen use can mess with our sleep, but the warnings usually emphasize insomnia and future health problems.

Last night I really did it.  Ordinarily, I’m in bed by nine or ten p.m., and avoid screen devices for a little while before sleep.  However, after an overly stimulating day, I wasn’t in the mood to go to bed on time or even attempt a calm evening.  Shortly after eight p.m., I initiated a YouTube marathon which lasted nearly six hours.

I was in the mood for late Twentieth Century pop and rock, and started with Walking on Broken Glass, an Annie Lennox classic featuring period costumes and outrageously awkward personal conflicts.  That one played in a loop for awhile until I decided on a few others.

Total Eclipse of the Heart by Bonnie Tyler is a favorite.  If you’re the least bit attracted to women, I defy you to stay calm while seeing her run in that white dress.

After watching Bonnie Tyler repeatedly, I took a look at She Bop by Cyndi Lauper.  It was hilarious, but not quite right for the mood. Like many music videos, that one has nothing to do with the song lyrics.

It was time to go hetero.  I’m flexible.  Whether my choices really went hetero is debatable, though.  If a bisexual woman is watching attractive gay/bi men, how do you interpret that?  I know the label, but refuse to identify it with words.  I hate that expression.

The Weather Girls’ It’s Raining Men is an old standby when I’m in that mode.  Okay, nobody’s life is easy, but how many excuses can we make for ourselves?

(Editor’s Note:  If you know what Cyndi Lauper’s She Bop is really about, you know how it fits with this post.  Most people don’t get it, especially as the video goes off-topic the way it does.)

The evening wouldn’t have been complete without I Was Born To Love You by Freddie Mercury.  Debbie Ash (a.k.a. Deborah Leigh Ash) was privileged to be the only woman in that production not to portray a broken or unpleasantly odd person.  Some people mistakenly think the pretty blonde girl in the negligee is Mr. Mercury’s onetime girlfriend, Mary Austin, but Ms. Austin has never appeared in music videos.

Fun facts aside, shortly after that I took a look at Under Pressure by Queen.  Disturbing.  Bohemian Rhapsody also proved to be unsuitable late night viewing.

It was time to try something distinctly heterosexual — or at least something which didn’t encourage me to dwell on the personal stuff I couldn’t handle at the time those songs were recorded.

Broken Wings by Mr. Mister was a good choice.  The desert, a Thunderbird and Tango dancers.  However, it was so beautiful there was no chance of giving up and going to bed before the bars closed.

I don’t know where that reference to the bars came from.  I haven’t visited one in years.

Not to steer away from going hetero, but there’s a stream of consciousness thing at work right now.  Maybe it’s left over from the sleepwalking.

On an afternoon in the 1980s, I was drinking Calistoga Water at Amelia’s, a now-closed lesbian bar on Valencia in San Francisco.  It was right after three p.m. on a weekday afternoon, so the bartender and I had the place to ourselves.  She had just opened, and George Michael’s Careless Whisper was on the video screen.

You can understand my conflict.  During the bedroom scene, my eyes were on the smug seductress.  Oh, and George Michael looked pretty nice, too.  As politically incorrect as my reaction was during the lesbian feminist ’80s, it proved to be a good day to visit Amelia’s. I just didn’t share my observations with the bartender.

Careless Whisper was one of the videos I watched in a loop last night. It holds up well, but it’s too intense for someone who is already wound up at a late hour.

Nearly everything I did last night was a mistake.

Back to sleepwalking…

I am not the first person in my family to experience this phenomenon.  During the early 1970s, my mother got up in the middle of the night and tried to tear out a hallway heat register.  My father and I got up and asked what she was doing, and she actually spoke to us.  What she said didn’t make a lot of sense, but since she knew more about home repair than we did we figured she knew what she was doing.  So, my father and also began trying to tear the damned thing out of the wall.

We didn’t succeed, but between the three of us we sure pulled the register cover out of shape.  After a few minutes, my mother said, “Fuck it,” and went back to bed.  The following morning she had no memory of the incident, but we convinced her it happened when we showed her the damage.

How does someone with my background not sleepwalk?  All I can tell you is, I’m aware of doing it a few times under stress when I was young, but the problem apparently disappeared for about thirty years before last night’s episode.  The word apparently is used here because someone can have that problem and be oblivious to it — just the way my mother was oblivious to the fact that she mangled the heat register cover.  I know I was roaming with the zombies last night only because the bathmat didn’t sprout legs and walk away by itself.

Maybe this was preventable.  Instead of watching Annie Lennox throw a fit, followed by a bunch of other stuff that kept me awake, I should have shortened the screentime greatly and stuck with one video.  Refusing to ponder the lyrics would have been smart, too.  Just flow with it for as long as necessary, and then retire for the evening:

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