Don’t they say to young bucks ‘If you want to know how your future wife will turn out, take a close look at her mother’?
As a maid, I might have considered applying that adage to the opposite gender and given these words careful thought on that dark night when, waking suddenly to the terrifying cacophony of a not-too-distant jackhammer blasting with metronomic regularity, I saw an ominous vision of the future. I was in the guest-bed at the home of my future in-laws and the revving plant machinery was in fact the impressive and improbable snoring emitted by my father-in-law-to-be, in a room at the far end of the landing, as he blissfully snoozed through the whole racket. In most other respects I would be quite pleased if Danny turned out like him, but this snoring is a family curse I am currently struggling to contend with. (To be fair, my mother is a bit of a snorer, according to my dad, so I may yet get even.)
Twenty years on however, I sit here under the silvery beams of a bright full moon at our spare bedroom window, and the distance between my ringing ears and the wide-open Sidney Opera House mouth of my snoring husband has been stretched just as far as I can take it without moving into the garden to sleep with the chickens. There are several walls and two closed doors between us, and still, no escape.
Each night, as he closes his book and snuggles sleepily under the covers, he blithely quips, “If I snore, just smother me.” I muse over the chances of this defence standing up in court at my murder trial, and consider seeking legal advice.
It is a baffling mystery how the reverberation of that 100 decibel clamour does nothing to disturb the perpetrator. For me, the sufferer, it often begins by creeping stealthily into my ear and finding it’s way round a dream. Eventually, I surface breathlessly from some eery or terrifying scenario involving screaming banshees or snarling werewolves. Occasionally, just to keep me on my toes, the roar is surreptitiously replaced by high squeals, like a woman being murdered in the woods, or sometimes there comes the haunting mewl of a crying baby, transporting me straight back to the sleep-deprived traumas of early motherhood. Then, following a momentary apnoea, (sometimes mistaken for actual, merciful, death) there comes the explosive burst of unfeasibly noisy breath like an Icelandic geyser rocketing past my head.
Not one of these virtuoso oral feats can be recreated by a lucid human, I have tried, it is impossible. I avoid mentioning the subject these days, because I am accused of exaggerating, but many times I have been tempted to record the evidence on my iphone. Yet the prospect of Danny, trained killer, and generally very grumpy bear, waking to find me leant over him like an eager reporter at a press conference fills me with genuine fear and I never go through with it.
During the honeymoon years, some lbs and several hundred cigarettes ago, he would say, “If I snore, just give me a shove.” In the small hours I would find myself gently crooning his name in a loving tone, growing steadily louder until the snoring stopped, just long enough for me to think it was safe to fall asleep, before it resumed with renewed vigour. Soon I ventured to take him up on the advice, but instead of a shove, I would tenderly touch his shoulder and softly ask him to roll over. This invariably resulted in a sudden and terrifying display of melodrama befitting a Japanese Kabuki performance, all flailing arms and bulging-eyed alarm. Sitting bolt upright he would narkily complain that I had woken him up. At three in the morning, having endured his rhythmic clamour for over an hour, this bitter irony is not lost on me.
Sleep deprivation does terrible things to a person. I sometimes have aural hallucinations that I can still hear it, even when I am alone in the house. The vile and vengeful ways I could stop it stream vividly through my waking brain as I lie waiting for the next interminable rasp of the saw-blade. Exactly five years ago today, in October 2013, a woman called Dawn Weiser stabbed her snoring husband with a butcher’s knife as he slept. It happens. (Only in America of course, Arkansas to be precise, and no, she didn’t get away with murder.)
Now, at this stage in our relationship, sleeping in separate rooms on a permanent basis would feel like a symbolic and very final nail in the coffin of intimacy and togetherness, and I cling to the fact that we still sit in bed sometimes and chew the fat after a tough day. I would also miss his sudden unwelcome interjections with ‘fascinating facts’ from the book he’s currently reading, forcing me to re-read the same paragraph in my own dreary book, two or maybe three times before regaining the thread. And of course who doesn’t enjoy the cheery morning fanfares of a well-fed adult male’s lower intestine to welcome in the new dawn?
So what is to be done? I have conducted extensive research on this common and gnarly problem. A plethora of devices and contraptions are available to both snorer and snoree, varied and fantastical, but all singularly unappealing. In one article it does actually advise that snoring can match the noise levels of a chainsaw and therefore, in accordance with health and safety regulations, requires the sufferers to wear appropriate sound-cancelling headphones. In desperation, when Danny was a biker, I did once try using his colourful little foam ear-defenders, but woke in the mornings with an aching jaw, possibly caused by the angry clenching of a very determined and very tired wife.
We all know, don’t we, that the big fat elephant in the bedroom is staring us right in the face? If I could only induce my husband to shed a few measly pounds, consume a modicum less beer and smoke no more cigarettes I might begin to anticipate at bedtime a more peaceful night’s sleep, with a potential surprise added benefit if we’re lucky. I welcome any advice on how to achieve these onerous goals and will keep you posted on my progress (without TMI)
As it is, I face the daily grisly prospect of another night with a monster, not under, but in my bed, so for now, please leave me your details if you might be interested in corresponding with a prison pen pal.