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Oh How the Things in Life That Go Bump Change


When I was a kid, I didn’t have a fear of the dark per se. What I was really scared about were the things that go bump in the night. And my imagination and I, with a little bit of help from our friend The Dark, could conjure up a million and one things that could not only go bump, but also burp, scream, hide, lurk or just be plain creepy. I never knew what lingered in the shadows waiting for me to fall asleep, so I had to take precautionary measures.

No matter how hot it was — it could be the middle of a sweltering summer and it wouldn’t have mattered– I had to have some kind of blanket or sheet pulled over me, at all times. Obviously this was to help prevent aliens from reading my mind, honing in on my exact location and swinging their spaceship by to abduct me. Closet doors had to be left slightly ajar because it’d be too obvious if the doors were completely shut. Leaving them open just a tad gave me the upper hand in the game. It signaled to the ghosts and furry monsters that might have been hiding inside that I knew they were there and that I didn’t even really mind. In fact, I dared them to come out. But they never did because they’d rather wait to have that element of surprise and really get me good when I least expected it.

All that practice of learning how to keep aliens away might have been all for naught, because I’m starting to realize that there are other bedtime things to worry about, things that I never even thought to be worried about.

One of which has to do with my new night guard. It is a small piece of hard acrylic shaped to fit over my 4 front teeth (sorta like what you see in the picture, just on my lower teeth). This was prescribed to me after the dentist noticed I had a bit of excess wear on my teeth.

“Do you grind your teeth at night?” she asked.

I told her that I thought I might, but I wasn’t entirely sure, what with my habit of being knocked into unconsciousness at night and all.

So, taking her advice, I started wearing a night guard while sleeping. It could have been just in my head, but my jaw did feel looser and less tense the following days after wearing it, so maybe I did grind my teeth. When I made this comment to Alan, he piped in, “Yeah! It’s so much better listening to your chomping thing on that plastic than it was when it was teeth on teeth.”

I stopped what I was doing and looked at him. “What do you mean ‘chomping thing’? What ‘chomping thing’?”

“That chomping thing you do. Man, it sounds terrible,” he replied, all casual like. As if he were saying, “I wish we still used that brand of toothpaste we got last time. Man, that stuff was minty.”

A “chomping thing” sounds like a frightening thing to be doing while you’re sleeping, so I asked him to demonstrate. And sure enough what he did was a big chomp, like the kind of bite a half-starved person would do if you were to give him a large drumstick to eat.

When he finished demonstrating, he went on to say, “But the way you do it is really loud. I can’t even try to do it as loud as you. Sometimes it’s so loud I worry that you might break your teeth.”

Now, why a person wouldn’t wake the person they are sleeping next to (who also happens to be the same person he is supposed to care deeply about) to get her to stop doing this terrible chomping thing is beyond me. Just imagine if I’d never listened to my dentist and never brought home a night guard and never commented about how much better my jaw felt afterward. One day I would wake up with smashed up teeth remains in my mouth and I bet Alan would feel sorry then that he never bothered to tell me about my bad habit because he was “too sleepy.”

When he started to feel bad about not telling me, he started opening up about a whole host of health-related problems I suffer from at night, all these weird things I do that I have never recalled doing upon waking up. Ever. One thing I found particularly interesting was the cough attacks; I wake up suddenly in the middle of the night, disturbing the peace with my raging, hacking, coughing fits. My entire upper body seizes and my head shakes around on my limp neck and there is gasping — oh, but there is gasping — for breath, like my life depends on it. And then, as suddenly as I had started coughing and gasping, it is over, and my face is relaxed and soft, like I had never even had the cough attack in the first place.
So really, if I don’t die from not eating enough nutrients because my teeth are smashed to smithereerns, then I might surely die choking on my Night Guard or from my own saliva or from lack of oxygen during a cough attack. Alan will just think the choking noises are a new manifestation of my night time health problems and keep right on sleeping. These are the real things I should be worried about!

Last modified: January 10, 2019