Hello, friends. Well, here we are again to talk about how truth is stranger than fiction. I told you when we started this that I was going to avoid talking about the negative things that have happened in my life that are just incredible as well as unbelievable. A few of those are the things that some of my books are made of. And for the past two weeks, we’ve talked about the various odd places I’ve lived or the strange times I’ve had moving. But this week, I’m here to talk to you about my sister. Don’t worry, she knows all about it, and she actually loves when I tell these stories.
Ever since she was a child, my sister has been prone to somnambulism, which is just a fancy word for sleepwalking (and talking!). When she’s awake, she’s the tamest person you’ll ever meet, but asleep, she’s a fierce tiger and quite a formidable opponent.
When we lived in New York, my sister was taking medication that listed a side-effect of somnambulism, but we had no idea what that word meant at the time, so she never asked her doctor to switch the medication. Because she was already prone to sleepwalking anyway, the medication amplified it greatly.
(Now, in case you don’t know it, sleepwalking is not like it is in the movies. The sleeper does not hold their hands out in front of them, and their eyes are wide open. When my sister slept and did the events that I’m telling you about today, her vision was so bad, she was nearly declared legally blind. Yet when she sleepwalked, she didn’t have her glasses or contacts, yet she seemed to see everything with no problem. If she was awake and didn’t have her contacts in or glasses on, she’d squint and clumsily feel her way along the wall and take small steps so she wouldn’t crash into something.)
At our house in New York, my bedroom was directly underneath my sister’s. Each night when I went to bed, it sounded as if Michelle was up in her room bowling while wearing high heels. “Stomp, stomp, stomp, slide!” was all I heard all night long. She always said she was cleaning her room, yet it was always a mess. I couldn’t understand why. I later learned (by catching her in the act) that she was sleepwalking and moving furniture about in her room – every night — for weeks!
Both my kids slept upstairs across the hall from Michelle. Jeremy was only six years old at the time, and he slept with a nightlight. But every morning when I woke him for school, his nightlight was already turned off. I assumed he’d already woken earlier and turned it off himself. Then one day out of the blue, Jeremy became clingy and didn’t want to be around Aunt Michelle at all. But he wouldn’t tell me why. It was several weeks before I got the story out of him. Apparently each night, Michelle, who was very kind to my kids when she was awake, went into my son’s room, woke him up and said things like, “You need to turn off this light, you big baby! You’re nothing but a sissy! Do you know how much money it costs to keep this nightlight on every night?” (I guess I forgot to mention that my sister is cheap, too!) Poor Jeremy was terrified of her, and no one had any idea why!
One evening, the kids were asleep as Michelle and I did laundry. I usually had Stefani put her and her brother’s clothes away after I folded them, but since she was already in bed, I left them in two laundry baskets by their bedroom doors. The next morning, we were running late, so I called upstairs for the kids to get ready for school, but Jeremy came downstairs without any pants. I sent him back upstairs to put his jeans on, but he started whining and said he didn’t have any. I told him to look in the laundry basket, but he said there weren’t any there. I called up to Stefani to help her brother, but she was too busy to be bothered.
Finally, I went upstairs to help, but just as Jeremy said, his laundry basket had shirts and underwear, but no pants. At first, I thought Stefani had put his clothes away in the wrong drawer, but when I inspected his dresser, there was only one single pair of pants to be found. We didn’t realize until later when the handyman came over and asked why we threw away so many perfectly good clothes instead of donating them that apparently Michelle had sleepwalked outside and thrown Jeremy’s pants in the main garbage! (By that time, the pants were long gone, and I had to replace every pair!)
A few months later for Christmas, I got some new makeup. I was excited to use it when I went back to work following the holiday, and I left it on my bathroom counter. (My bathroom was downstairs, and though it was not an en suite to my bedroom, I was the only person who ever used it.) When I got ready for work the following morning, however, I was perturbed to find that my makeup was gone. At first, I thought one of my kids had done something with it, but they both swore they hadn’t. So, we chalked it up to Michelle having walked in her sleep again. (Sure enough, when we moved nearly a year later, I found every bit of the brand new makeup hidden behind the hot water heater!)
My sister has done lots of other wacky things in her sleep as well. Once, I caught her pre-buttering all our knives and putting them back in the silverware drawer. (Eww!) Once, she smeared toothpaste all over the bathroom sink and mirror. Once she ripped the shower curtain rod from the wall and turned it around backward. In her sleep, she’s very strong, but awake, it took both of us using all our might to get the rod turned back properly. Several times she’s come out of her room and proceeded to yell at one of us or even company we’ve had, and I’m the only one who actually knows she’s really sleeping. (When she’s asleep, she drags one leg behind her like Frankenstein and uses a deep, authoritative voice as she barks out orders… I usually have to literally tackle her to wake her up and get her to stop doing whatever she’s doing.)
One time in particular, my daughter, my birth mother, my sister, and I went to the beach. On the way back, my birth mom wanted to stop for some ice cream. Stefani was excited, too, and I told them of a little mom-and-pop place I knew of that was delicious. But as we pulled into the parking lot, Michelle barked, “NO! No ice cream! Get back in this car, every one of you! You said we were going to a restaurant for lunch! This is not lunch! Now get back in here, and let’s go get some real food, you jackasses!”
My birth mom, who is not usually penetrable, was shaken. Stefani was afraid and got in the car, but I knew Michelle was asleep. “No, I’m not!” she snarled when I voiced my observation. “I’m just sick and tired of you all dictating where we go and what we get to eat! I DON’T WANT ANY ICE CREAM! Now, get in the car and drive!”
A very silent twenty minutes later, we pulled into a restaurant, and all four of us started to get out of the car. I whispered to my daughter and birth mom something to the effect of perhaps there’d be ice cream in the restaurant, when Michelle piped in and excitedly said, “Oh! Do you think so? Some ice cream would really hit the spot right now, wouldn’t it?” The three of us just glared at her, and she seriously had no idea why.
How about you? Do you know anyone who sleepwalks or talks? If you read about this in a book, would you find it plausible?