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Chuck Hinman: IJMA. When I Can't Sleep (2005)

Chuck Hinman: When I Can't Sleep. Chuck says, I learned to claim my blanket rights early after going to bed by 'biting and holding' firm in my clinched teeth the blanket covering me.
Next earlier Chuck Hinman column - It's Snowing At Tallgrass

By Chuck Hinman

When I Can't Sleep

Over a span of 81 years, I have read of many remedies for sleep disorders. Never, I repeat never, have I read of 'the' one I learned at an early age. I have concluded that my remedy was invented through necessity.


Scary reflections on bedroom wall

I grew up having one brother, Bob, who was two years older. Our house on the farm was a large two-story house with several bedrooms on he second floor. Even as little tykes, we boys were mercilessly assigned a bed in one of those scary upstairs bedrooms.

Some of my earliest, scariest nocturnal moments were before going to sleep, seeing the reflection on the bedroom wall of car lights as they went up and down the hills of the country road by our house. The lights seemed so eerie as though some ghosts were about to pounce on me. My little heart must have become enlarged from going Pitty-Pat so much.

Foreboding thumping sounds

I learned at an early age that I could not take refuge from my fears in my parents' bed. Mom wouldn't have cared but Dad would not have allowed it! In later years, I have heard my sister Jody confess that Mom and Dad would have been shocked had they known how many nights she was afraid and secretly spent the rest of the night under our parents' bed for safety from ghosts!

To compound my fears, I became petrified by thumping sounds as I lay on my side trying to go to sleep. I discovered, after I became a big boy, that these scary noises were nothing more than hearing my heart beat as I slept on one ear. The sound conjured up all sorts of foreboding imaginations.

Brother Bob is a 'blanket hog'

Then to top off all these nocturnal disturbances, my brother always seemed to fall asleep before I did. I learned at an early age that he was a born 'blanket hog.' Nearly every night from an early age, we would have an 'out of the bed' fight over 'blanket possession.'

Over a period of time, I learned to claim my blanket rights early after going to bed by 'biting and holding' firm in my clinched teeth the blanket covering me. I learned so well that I could fall asleep with the blanket firmly tucked in my mouth. I suspect that my teeth became deeply and firmly rooted by their continual testing during the night. I think I became so adept at protecting my rights without waking, that I probably took a chance of having my teeth jerked out.

Accused of having a 'ninny blanket'

Well, that was all right for then, but what about the many years since, when I no longer shared a bed with the 'original blanket hog.'

I remember that, when I went off to college at Peru in 1939, my roommate, Red Buhrmann, questioned me about being asleep with the blanket (or sheet) firmly grasped in my teeth. He spread the 'lie' among my peers (much to my embarrassment) that I had a 'ninny blanket' like the little kid who sucked his thumb on one hand while holding his baby blanket with the other hand.

Grasping blanked in teeth is ingrained habit

No amount of shaming either from my college roommate Red, or later from my wife, or (much later) my grandchildren can break me of this ingrained habit.

Last night after all these years, widowed, I slept in a queen size bed -- close to the edge, with the sheet firmly gripped in my BIG sturdy teeth -- guarding against 'Unknown, But Always Present, To Be Dreaded Blanket Thieves'! (the worst kind of thief).

They Don't Stand A Chance!

Written by Chuck Hinman. From It's Just Me, 2005.



This story was posted on 2014-02-02 05:56:34
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