The Sleeper

He sits towards the back of the room, but that’s not uncommon. Most of the attendees are close to the door, prepared to make a quick escape. The presentation really isn’t TOO interesting, so sitting towards the front or demonstrating rapt attention are equally rare.

I’m just glad that they came–in a room of 30 people, at least one or two of them are bound to appear interested. I can keep my energy up pretty easily if there’s at least one person nodding along with me.

But this man is doing the other kind of nodding—-nodding off.

His short, unruly, dark hair and wire-rimmed glasses give him a nerdy Harry Potter look. A bit on the geeky side, but not an unattractive fellow on the whole.

It starts out innocently enough–as I work my way through the presentation, he slowly advances towards sleeping. First, he grasps his elbow with one hand, placing his other hand in the middle of his face. His eyes are closed, but he is sitting upright, and for all I know, he could still be listening.

As I prattle on about repayment plans it becomes clearer and clearer that I’m losing him. I’m not offended, but mildly amused. My amusement increases greatly the more he surrenders control of his body.

The hand on his face spreads, so instead of calmly resting on the bridge of his nose, now his fingers are plastered across his glasses. His pinky remains on the tip of his nose, but his other fingers have knocked his glasses askew. The right arm of his glasses frame has freed itself from behind his ear, and is now sticking out from the side of his head at an awkward angle.

And he’s leaning forward precariously. Almost tipping off the chair.

I’m watching his progression with such attention that I’ve lost my place. I hurriedly check my power point, and realize that I’m repeating myself. When you’re talking interest rates, that’s a treacherous thing to do. It was hard enough making them sound interesting the first time. I move on, talking about education vouchers and teacher loan forgiveness, but really watching to see if he’ll topple out of his chair.

Mr. Siesta slowly rocks backward without waking. His shoulders reach the back of the chair and his body stops moving, but his hand seems to continue, shmushing his face even more. The pinky finger that had been propped on the tip of his nose forces his probiscus upward, giving him a perfect pig snout.

I start to giggle a little bit, but pass it off as a cough and continue talking.

“You also will want to check with your employers,” I say, without missing a beat, “to see if they offer any sort of repayment options.”

Nappy starts to lean sideways, his mustard-colored hoodie creating a nice little halo behind his head.

“In competitive job markets, **snort**, Ahem, sometimes employers will offer to pay a part of your loans as a recruitment tool. **giggle** **throat clear** This is especially common in health care fields.”

I straighten up my shoulders and try to find someone else to look at. Several of the counseling attendees are listening rather intently as I move in to the cancellation provisions on Federal student loans.  They bob their heads as I speak. A cute gentleman in a ski hat smiles confusedly, and I don’t blame him. I’m looking past him at the sleeper, and I’m sure from his perspective I appear to be acting quite strange.

‘Almost done, Flemmily,’ I tell myself. ‘A couple more slides and you’re home free.’

I try to look away, but Monsieur Night-night has a magnetic hold on me.

All at once, he drops another eight inches to the left, his upper body forming a perfect right angle to his legs, while still maintaining his scrunched face, caddywhompus glasses, and snout nose.

And suddenly I’m struggling to speak. Blushing, sputtering, and trying to control the giggles, I continue to press on in my presentations.

“And if…HEAveN forBID, **giggle** **snort** you should evER beCOME PERManently and TOTALLY disaABled…”

My attemps to supress the laughter result in my inablity to control the volume of my voice.

“Or BEcome deCEASED,” my eyes tear up, and I wipe the moisture off my cheeks with the back of my fingers, taking a shaky breath before I continue.

“Then YOU will NOT NEed to conTINUE making payments on your LOANS!”

As I finish this last statement, my voice slowly increases by nearly an octave, and “loans” comes out as more of squeak than a word.

I stop trying to talk for a few moments, and just try to catch my breath. I’ve completely lost it, and the entire room has noticed. Several students look at each other, probably whispering “Is she on crack?” Others tilt their heads, bewildered, confused, and a little unsettled.  The dear soul in the ski cap is looking up towards the ceiling, mouthing the words “and if you become deceased” while dotting the air with his pointed finger—silently trying to work out the connection betweeen death, permanent and total disability, and uncontrollable laughter.

I shake and laugh. I can see how splotchy my chest has become, and can only imagine how red my face is. I double over forward, trying to regain my composure.

I begin to stand upright again, and nearly fall to my knees as I catch a glimpse of the sleeper. He is now leaning so far to the left that his face is almost upside down. He still has his pig nose, but now his glasses are dangling from his face, teetering unsteadily, hanging from one ear.

I take a deep breath and stand up. Still giggling, I manage to squeak out “I’m sorry!” before again dissolving into giggles and melting forward.

I point towards the back of the room, and ski-hat-boy gives himself a quick once over, then looks over his shoulder.

All at once the entire room bursts out into laughter, finally understanding the circumstances. Several students look relieved, glad to know that their presenter isn’t some sort of sociopath that thinks death and dismemberment are hysterical.

The boom of laughter the room emits startles our dozing compatriot, and he snorts, and jolts.

His chair bucks for a moment, and he bolts upright with enough force and velocity to cause his glasses to go careening off his face.  They land two chairs away, in the lap of the girl with the fancy boots and the polka-dotted trench. She’s laughing too hard to hand them back, and the newly-awakened man has to walk over and pick them off her knees. She throws her head back, spasming in giggles. It’s his turn to be embarrassed, and he blushes while he tries to pluck his glasses off of her body without touching her.

He’s nearly composed himself until he realizes that a string of drool is hanging from his mouth.

We wipe our eyes and try to pretend that we weren’t laughing at him, while he slaps saliva off his face.

I manage to make it through my last slide, and walk into the hall to answer questions. Mr. McSnooze sneaks out the back door, and I don’t even have a chance to thank him.

He totally made my day. 


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