I remember my burning ears.
They can tell I’m not sleeping. They can tell I’m faking it.
I was embarrassed.
I began to giggle.
I tried with all of my might but the giggling wouldn’t subside.
My job was to pretend to be asleep, make snoring sounds, then wake up and say ho ho ho. It was December of 1978. I was six years old. Six years old and the star of the school holiday play.
And in this moment?
I was getting it wrong.
I was screwing up.
I was supposed to be snoring, sleeping, not hiccupping with heavily suppressed laughter.
I was so embarrassed. I was humiliated.
My heart was pounding. I was drenched in sweat, the plastic costume clinging grotesquely to my skinny little bones, the fake beard and pillow as well.
I was having so much fun.
Humiliated and having fun?
It was so much fun to be doing it wrong.
It was so much fun to be embarrassed, sweaty and, hiccuping laughter mid snore.
I had one thing to do.
One simple thing.
I had to wake up.
Well. I had to pretend to sleep. Then pretend to wake up. Then say “HO HO HO MERRY CHRISTMAS”.
That was it.
I don’t remember anything else.
I remember my attempts to say the line.
Ho Ho Ho Merry Christmas
My attempt sounded like this:
By this point in time, slippery with sweat, costume pieces were now uncooperative. The pillow was acting like it was drunk, the beard ornery and the red garbage bag plastic costume? Python like.
Then there was the issue of my uncontrollable laughter.
I don’t remember what I said - if anything at all. I do remember the lights going out. I remember how my belly felt. I remember how my face hurt. I remember my parents. They were smiling. Pride? Fear? Love? Who knows. That part doesn’t need a story. They were smiling. I remember loving every moment of it.
One Derful Thing
At some point today, pretend to fall asleep.
Pretend to be asleep.
How would this go on a coffee date?
How would this go on a work call?
How could you pull this off as a therapist?
(if you’re seeing me today: SURPRISE!)
So, pretend to fall asleep.
Report back how it goes.