Thursday, January 6, 2011

Do They Conduct Sleep Studies In Hell? by Mike Gaul

Comic / Writer Mike Gaul
My first guest blogger for 2011 is stand-up comic and writer Mike Gaul. He performs mainly in New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey; and I met him via my tweetpal, filmmaker/comic Glen Tickle. Please give him a warm welcome, everyone, as he takes the stage here at MOAM.

Do They Conduct Sleep Studies In Hell?

By Mike Gaul

My wife has been politely suggesting that I snore all the time. Like any good soldier who needs sex on a regular basis, I scheduled a consult with my doctor, who suggested I check out a place called Sleep Care. Advised that they are among the best for dealing with sleep related issues, I arrive on the scheduled date with an overnight bag in hand. The office is nothing to hoot about and any interior decorator would scream in horror at the furnishings.

I admit that I half expected to be stuck in some capsule surrounded by lab geeks writing on clipboards. This room is private, equipped with cable TV and cameras mounted on the wall, plus a couch with a plastic mattress, which by the way has the give and comfort of the Lincoln Memorial. I’d have better luck passing out behind the wheel of my car at than I will on this brick slab. Maybe the technician can Taser® me to sleep. These cameras are everywhere and give me the creeps - forget watching anything containing the title Up All Night or resembling an Arkansas trailer community. Wait, did I mention "My Technician?"
Rosa is a twenty-something Latino woman who is pleasant enough. But her English? As you say - ‘not so good.’ Rosa gives me a polite greeting, followed by a quick rundown of her life history, and how she and her husband are saving for a home. I have no idea why people view me as a person you can share feelings with especially when I haven't slept in 15 hours. I nod politely, smile, and my thoughts soon be wondering, the way they always do (Love ya Bob Seeger) if Jack Nicholson felt the same way when Shelly Duvall wouldn't leave him alone while staying in the Overlook Hotel. Lead me to the ballroom Grady.

Instead, Rosa takes me to my sleeping quarters and instructs me to remove my clothes and call when ready. I smile and raise an eyebrow, causing her to blush. "Well, not completely, I need to get you ready for bed." Rosa leaves me to speak to someone in the next room. I hear the whole conversation and realize the Bates Motel has another guest - with a persistent cough.

Doc Holliday meet Mr. Gaul. Hey, Stewardess! Shove a funnel in this guy’s mouth and break out the keg of Vick's with codeine, will ya? I’m tryin’ to sleep here!” 

Rosa returns to usher me into yet another room where I'm swabbed in alcohol and covered in some form of Ben-Gay slime. I'm fitted with some harness containing various sensors. Then more sensors attached to my arms and legs. Hey, at least Keanu Reeves hooked up with Carrie Moss in the Matrix, what am I getting for my trouble? I stumble back to my room and check the TV and VHS collection, nothing noteworthy accept the cover of Urban Cowboy. The sight of Travolta's dented chin is making me laugh and I start to doze off.

I wake for a second to find myself being hooked up to a monitor to measure my breathing patterns and heart rate. Rosa completes my transformation by jamming tubes up my nose. Am I really supposed to sleep like this? It's and I'm praying that some overgrown freak bursts into my room and breaks out the chloroform. Wait what's that noise?


“Yes?” I blurt out. 

"I need to check the system to make sure it's functioning properly. Okay? Move your leg."

I raise my leg while looking at the camera.

"Wiggle your foot."


"Now grind your teeth."


“Did you put a camera in my mouth too?


The author and his technician.
I smile for the camera. 

"Okay, now go to sleep."

Yeah, that was the plan, What's next? Will Rosa claim to be my biggest fan and smash my feet with a sledgehammer? And Misery seems to be the title track to the evening’s festivities.

"Hey, what the hell is this anyway a shuttle launch?"

She laughs. I'm serious. I’ve gone from Jack Nicholson to James Caan and now I’m Tom Hanks in Apollo 13. 

    . I'm supposed to be sleeping. But I can hear the guy next door coughing. Not clearing your throat coughing. Oh, no. This is tuberculosis like coughing, Death's door type coughing. Now I'm laughing because there's nothing else to do but laugh. I hear my heart monitor in the next room making noise. I hear footsteps. No, please, no! I'll be good!

The door flies against the wall.

"Why it's my waitress. HA-HA-HA!”

"Ummm, are you ok? I hear laughing"

"Why, yes, you did hear me laughing."

"You’re supposed to be sleeping," she scolds.

"Well, I would hope I could. But I have a camera pointed at me, tubes up my nose, and I can't move because a sensor will come loose and trigger the alarm. One more thing, do you have a pillow for the guy next door?"

"He has a pillow," she smiles.

"Well put one over his face, I can hear his coughing"

"You’re being difficult, Mike. I'll turn the TV on and maybe you'll drift off to sleep"

The Dirty Dozen is on, maybe Lee Marvin and company will come save me.

 It's . All is quiet. Except - someone is in the bathroom. It's Rosa going pee! Perfect, I'm awake. Can you use the fan? Wow. Rosa picked up a Big Gulp on the way to work. Maybe two. I bet she's got plumbing, I'm laughing again, I hear the heart monitor. Screw this! I'm done. I'm yanking wires off and the machine is going crazy. Rosa bounds in.

"Is everything ok?"

“Nope, I'm done. I need sleep and I'm going home”

"Ok, but we didn't get enough data from you're sleep study, so you need to come back."

"Right away!" I quip. "The first free night I have I'll be back. Count on it."

"Ok, Mike, please fill out this survey and tell us how we can improve our service"

Really now?

"How about an open bar and thicker walls for starters?" I smile. "It's been a pleasure meeting you, Rosa, and thanks for being with me this evening."

I didn't wait for an answer, and I didn't listen. I start my car and make the 45 minute trip home in about 30 minutes. My wife is on the couch watching TV. She looks startled, starts to ask if everything is okay and . . . that’s the last thing I remember.

 I wake up the next morning on the couch. The birds are chirping, all is good. I stumble to the kitchen to find my wife looking puzzled.

"I guess it didn't go well?”

"Nope. Hey, did I go to sleep right away?”

“Yeah, you said something funny before you dozed off.”

“What was that?”

“I asked how it went, and you smiled and said,

Do they conduct Sleep Studies in Hell?’"

Mike Gaul was born a quiet observer, and developed a sense of humor as a coping mechanism while attending Catholic school. His love for "Ordinary" daily life fuels his observational and surreal form of comedy.