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Guess the Flower

July 3, 2008

When I was small, I was the worst at sleeping. Perhaps it was biological–my mother claimed I had no “off” switch, and that my laid-back little brother balanced things out, since he had no “on”. Or, maybe it was psychological; I was never one to just let things go, and would stew over sleights real and imaginary, for days.

I prefer to cast a more constructive light over things. At age six, I was much too busy to turn in for eight hours. Who had time for sleeping, when there were monsters to catch in the act of sneaking, nightmares to avoid, tomorrow to plan, songs to hum quietly, and all those sounds wafting through the darkness? Sounds that suggested other people were having fun, doing things, laughing and watching and maybe even playing. Enjoying the night…without me.

Eventually my roster of after-dark tasks would run out, and I would turn my attention to the clock, ticking closer and closer to morning. No, that’s not quite it. The hour was never inching too close to morning–it was getting too close to “up too late”. And once it was almost too late, it was time to take action.

If played long enough, Guess the Flower knocked me out faster than warm milk or petting on the back.

My bedsheets were white, gridded into boxes by shiny threads woven against the softer nap. Each box contained a single flower–yellow daisies, pink roses, blue violets, orange weedy things–gathered into a bouquet of blobby green leaves. The game was simple: close your eyes, point to a flower, try to guess which one, then try to land on the same variety a second time, also with eyes closed. After a few dozen rounds, I would “win” the game, my eyes shut till sunrise.

When I graduated from single to double bed, the sheets no longer fit and were chopped into cleaning rags and paint-can swabs, and relegated to the mud room. I was too excited about snuggling beneath my new rainbow quilt and stretching like a starfish with inches left before the mattress edge to miss Guess the Flower. I still sleep rather poorly, but wine and sex and reading the dictionary have replaced poking at spots on the sheets.

Today, I walked to work rather than cycling, to make myself travel slower (the “on” button still sticks, now and then). On my way home, I browsed a little dress-shop stocked with local designers’ shapeless cotton shifts and skirty retro frocks. And there, belted with a ribbon and crammed toward the back rack, was the ugliest dress of all time, fashioned from crisp Guess the Flower bedsheets and trimmed in pink lace. Sewn into a portable board game, like magnetic checkers or travel-size Parcheesi, or a pretty dose of sleep-remedy, tied with a sash.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. amy permalink
    July 12, 2008 1:48 am

    I hope you bought it.

  2. Amanda permalink
    July 15, 2008 11:04 am

    No! It was soooo ugly and expensive! But when I passed by the shop again yesterday afternoon, I noticed they’d moved it to the window, no longer relegated to the back racks.

  3. looka permalink
    July 24, 2008 6:15 pm

    Knocked out into sleep by flowers…
    It feels good – even on fabric!

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