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Smell the Coffee: Warning: Pranks pose sleeping risks

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- When I was growing up, falling asleep on the couch while watching TV wasn't a wise thing to do, considering I was raised in a family of pranksters. If it happened to be dark outside when I dozed off, they'd not only shut off every light, but unplug them. To further the befuddled effect they were after, they'd sometimes gently lift the couch and turn it completely around, so I'd wake facing the wall.

At least one time I awakened with a thick mustache drawn on my upper lip. It had been done with a dark green permanent marker.

They filled my hand with shaving cream, then tickled my nose. Tried the same sort of prank with an overripe, almost melted-feeling tomato.

One time, I was in my own bed when the alarm awakened me. It felt as if I'd just gone to sleep, so as I headed for the shower, I checked every clock. The one on the VCR, the microwave. All said the same time.

Every single one of them had been changed by the prankster. This, I discovered only after showering and eating breakfast and getting completely ready to go. In the middle of the night.

It should come as no surprise, I suppose, that I have trouble with insomnia. It's a coping device.

My own daughter, who turns 15 next month, has become something of a professional sleeper these days. She sleeps so deeply (and so often) that she would be an easy mark. Aside from a single time when I tried to glue hair to her upper lip to convince her she was growing a mustache, I've generally left her alone.

Just this week, though, I read a news account of a 15-year-old British girl who has what they're calling "Sleeping Beauty Syndrome," where those with the condition sleep extremely long periods of time. This particular girl fell asleep in April, and didn't awaken until June.

The condition, called Kleine-Levin Syndrome, almost exclusively affects teenagers and is something they outgrow once they reach adulthood. The cause is unknown.

It was while reading some of the comments that followed the article that I realized there are many people who were raised by families much like my own.

One was encouraging Sleeping Beauty's parents to hire makeup artists to make them appear decades older for the next time she awakens. Others said they should make her believe she's awakened to a zombie apocalypse.

Another said they should thoroughly redecorate her room while she's asleep, including putting a scenic poster in her window so the view is something completely foreign.

The more I read, the more I realized the many potential pranks one could do to the sleeping that never occurred to my family.

Thank goodness.

One involves buying cheap hair extensions the same general color as the victim's hair, which would then be cut and left on their pillow over several consecutive nights so they'd become convinced they were losing their hair.

Break open a few glow sticks and spread the contents over the sleeping person, leave the room and turn off all the lights, and then make a noise loud enough to wake them.

Use makeup to turn your face as white as possible, and then take a vibrant color of eye shadow and paint all the way from your lid to your brow. Use bright lipstick to turn your mouth into a large, horizontal oval. Draw red circles on your cheeks. Essentially, turn yourself into an insane clown, and then lean in very close to the sleeping person and remain there until they awaken. Shake if necessary.

And then prepare yourself for their revenge.

Reach Karin Fuller via email at karinfuller@gmail.com.


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