Afternoon Naps

It was an accident. That’s all it was. I am not getting old.

I wasn’t particularly tired yesterday, but something came over me. I was on the sofa, eating lunch, watching a daytime ballgame, sipping iced tea, drowsing off.

The next thing I knew, I awoke two hours later, disoriented, covered in iced tea, ice cubes melting on my chest, and I was drooling.

My wife found me. She looked shocked. She said, “Were you just taking a nap?”

“A nap?” I said. “Don’t be silly. Naps are for people with AARP cards, and I’m WAY too young for those.”

“You were napping.”

“No I wasn’t.”

“Yes you were.”

“No. I was practicing mindfulness.”

I have my dignity to preserve.

When I was a kid, I remember my mother once saying, “You know you’re getting old when you fall asleep and spill food on yourself.”

That’s never been me. I was a fast-moving kid with a taste for danger, always looking for international thrills.

My bicycle had baseball cards on the spokes, and I knew how to beat the Jacob’s Ladder game without even trying.

I knew the rules to Texas Hold’em, and played for high stakes behind the fellowship hall with Jay Ray, Ed Lee, and the janitor, Mister Stew. To this day, Mister Stew still owes me nine hundred thousand dollars.

Who has time for naps? Not me.

Growing up, I strapped a transistor radio to my bicycle handlebars and rode gravel roads, listening to “Hit the Road Jack” until the speaker popped.

I had dirt beneath my fingernails. I could climb any tree. I was raw energy. Everyone knew this about me.

Case in point: when I was seven, I was in the school production of Handel’s Messiah, and the teacher had to write brief biographies about the soloists in the bulletins.

She wrote about me: “Sean Dietrich makes enthusiasm seem like an inadequate word.”

Those were her exact words.

As an adult, I realize this was simply code for: “Sean gets in trouble whenever he shows signs of brain activity.”

But at my age, speed was life. It went hand in hand with my profession. I was a rowdy cowhand, a government agent, an astronaut, a Western sheriff, a private investigator, an ALFA insurance adjuster.

People like me do not get old, neither do we wear Velcro shoes, take fiber supplements from tiny on-the-go packets, or enroll in AARP. And we never nap so hard that we spill tea on ourselves.

I remember my Uncle Larry coming to stay at our house once. He was old, gray, and hard of hearing. He stayed in my bedroom.

Every day, Mama brought him lunch on a tray—a grilled cheese and iced tea. During his stay, I had to sleep on the den sofa, but I didn’t mind because I got to watch Johnny Carson before bed.

One afternoon, I crept upstairs to find Uncle Larry lying on my bed. He was on top of the covers, limp. He had spilled a glass of iced tea on himself, his sandwich was half eaten, and scattered on his chest. Also, his mouth was gaping open.

I nudged him, “Uncle Larry,” I said.

Nothing.

I tried a few more times until his jaw fell open and his false teeth fell out.

I screamed. I ran downstairs and found my father. I told Daddy that he’d better sit down because I had some bad news about Uncle Larry.

“Well, spit it out,” my father said.

“I believe Uncle Larry has met the Lord.”

“You think what?”

“I think Uncle Larry has joined the Invisible Gaither Quartet in the Sky.”

My father came rushing upstairs. So did my mother. Everyone gathered in the bedroom and got very quiet. We stared at the motionless old man whose upper dentures were blocking his airhole.

My mother covered her mouth and said, “I knew I should’ve cut his grilled cheese into quarters.”

My father put his ear to Larry’s chest. “I don’t understand,” said Daddy. “He seemed fine this morning.”

“Well,” said Mother, “he certainly was blowing his nose awfully hard yesterday, maybe he blew something loose.”

She nudged Larry’s body.

Nothing.

“Poor Larry,” she said. “At least he was at peace.’

What happened next, forever lives in family history, and is still talked about today in certain circles. What I am talking about is when my father removed a thumbtack from the cork bulletin board above my desk, then said to the ceiling, “Forgive me, Lord.”

My mother said, “What’re you doing?”

“I just gotta be sure,” he said.

My father stabbed the thumbtack into Uncle Larry’s upper thigh. The old man shot out of bed and screamed words that would make an Episcopalian blush.

My father was so overjoyed that he hollered. And Mama started singing “In the Sweet By and By,” and clapping her hands. A good time was had by all.

Uncle Larry never came to stay with us again.

Anyway, I’ve forgotten why I was even writing this. Oh yes. I remember.

Today, I received an AARP application in the mail.

Then I took a nap.

41 comments

  1. Martha Black - June 3, 2019 8:13 am

    AARP mailings make my blood pressure go up. Too bad you can’t “Return to Sender” I’d rather get a daily visit from the Jehovah’s Witness!

    Reply
    • Joan Shaw Turrentine - July 3, 2019 12:40 pm

      Amen to that!

      Reply
    • Cheryl - July 3, 2019 8:08 pm

      Martha, I stuffed the envelope fun of their paperwork and sent it back in their PREPAID envelope. Didnt receive anymore of their junk! Lol

      Reply
  2. Marilyn Vance - June 3, 2019 8:32 am

    Ah, yes, the dreaded nap……

    Reply
  3. Sandi in FL. - June 3, 2019 9:33 am

    I realized I was getting old when I actually took an afternoon nap because I WANTED to, not because my mother insisted on it!

    Reply
  4. Cathi Russell - June 3, 2019 10:07 am

    Uncle Larry & the thumb tack tumped my giggle box over…my dogs think I’ve lost my mind.

    Reply
  5. GaryD - June 3, 2019 10:10 am

    The only worse thing about growing old is not growing old.

    Reply
    • Linda Moon - June 3, 2019 6:20 pm

      Enthusiasm, after all, is a product of brain activity. Since naps restore brain function, take more naps, Sean. We readers will anxiously await new posts after all that nap-induced enthusiasm!

      Reply
  6. Melissa Armstrong - June 3, 2019 10:25 am

    Oh my goodness! I had to stifle my laughter to avoid waking the household!! Too funny! Uncle Larry’s resurrection was the best!

    Reply
  7. Elizabeth - June 3, 2019 11:03 am

    I don’t even pretend, I just go crawl in bed to nap! Fabulous story.

    Reply
  8. Joy - June 3, 2019 11:32 am

    Gary, you are absolutely right!!

    Reply
  9. Naomi - June 3, 2019 11:38 am

    On Saturday a couple of months ago, I had changed the sheets, washed a couple loads of laundry, made lunch, loaded the dishwasher, & completed a few more chores. I went into our home office, turned on the TV, leaned back in the recliner and started reading some stuff on the internet. I got really tired and sleepy so I closed my laptop and leaned all the way back in the recliner. The TV was still on. The next thing I knew, I woke up to 7 EMTs and paramedics in my office; they started asking me all kinds of questions that I could not answer, like what day is it, what’s the date, who’s the president; I couldn’t answer any of their questions. They then asked me to smile and do a few other things to see if I had had a stroke. My husband called 911 because he said that I wasn’t responding to him when he was talking to me; I didn’t even hear the TV. I asked him if he shook me or did anything else to wake me up; he said .all he did was talk to me. The paramedics insisted on taking me to the emergency room against my protests. I asked them to give me a few minutes to wake up and I would be able to answer their barrage of questions but they wouldn’t listen to me. Now, when I feel tired and sleepy, I tell my husband that if I fall asleep in the recliner to please not call 911.

    Reply
    • Phillip Saunders. - June 3, 2019 11:59 am

      Hilarious, Naomi! Glad you’re OK. Only us professional nappers understand the severe state of confusion that follows some of our “episodes.”

      Reply
  10. Phillip Saunders. - June 3, 2019 11:54 am

    This one is a classic “keeper” for sure, Sean. I remember getting that first AARP mailing, too. I said to my wife, “Shoot, here’s another organization wanting me to donate money.” She replied, “Oh, no, that’s your membership application.” A feeling of drowsiness suddenly came over me.

    Reply
  11. Kaye Pearson - June 3, 2019 12:05 pm

    Just bought one of your books in Fairhope. Sure do enjoy your stories. This one about naps made me laugh out loud. Thank you😊🤣

    Reply
  12. Tim House - June 3, 2019 12:14 pm

    Oh, this is so “us”! Those of us reaching those retirement ages…

    Reply
  13. Carol Heidbreder - June 3, 2019 12:31 pm

    Just consider it a rite of passage,glance at the articles that interest you and go right on as if nothing happened. And consider it your permission card to nap any time you feel like it. And yes, it beats NOT getting old. Just carry on sir! 🙂

    Reply
  14. Joe Patterson - June 3, 2019 12:36 pm

    Me too thanks

    Reply
  15. Bobbie - June 3, 2019 12:39 pm

    One of the best! How many times have I said that?? Like the one who replied her dogs thought she was going crazy,…I was trying not to disturb my little Shih Tzu who recently had surgery. But this was really laugh out loud funny! I say again, Sean, you are blessed with an amazing gift😍🤣‼️ God bless you.

    Reply
  16. MermaidGrammy - June 3, 2019 12:40 pm

    Naps are good. AARP is very very good

    Reply
  17. Connie Havard Ryland - June 3, 2019 12:53 pm

    I needed that giggle. Got to work to no internet, no emails, no phone and no network connection to do anything, on Monday, at crunch time for any bookkeeper, so I really needed my daily dose of Sean. Have a great day. BTW, I’m not a mapper either. I always said I could sleep when I was dead. But at almost 65, I’m learning to appreciate an Sunday afternoon nap with the dogs in my lap. Love and hugs.

    Reply
    • Lori Brown - June 3, 2019 12:54 pm

      What a perfect way to start a Monday morning! Thank you for the laugh, Sean!

      Reply
  18. Kathryn Walsh - June 3, 2019 1:04 pm

    Hilarious

    Reply
  19. Shelton A. - June 3, 2019 1:12 pm

    Sean, it’s easier on you, your mailbox, and your postal carrier if you just join AARP and be done with it. They will hound you like crazy until you do. We Episcopalians don’t blush easily, but then I’ve never heard someone who was just sleeping soundly after they’ve been stuck with a thumbtack. Desperate times call for drastic measures, I suppose. Have a good nap and don’t spill stuff on yourself. It’s undignified. Thanks for the laugh.

    Reply
  20. Liz Watkins - June 3, 2019 1:55 pm

    Hysterical!
    God Bless🙏🏻

    Reply
  21. agracefilledhome77 - June 3, 2019 2:27 pm

    This is so good!!

    Reply
  22. Jess in Athens, GA - June 3, 2019 2:34 pm

    Unlike you, Sean, I am old, but I hate to take naps in daytime because it makes going to sleep at night very difficult. If I do doze off while watching tv in the afternoon I tell my wife that the sleep monster sneaked up on me and put me in a choke-hold until I passed out. And, of course, she doesn’t buy that flimsy excuse…bless her heart.

    Reply
  23. ann hays - June 3, 2019 2:52 pm

    Good one!!

    Reply
  24. Dianne - June 3, 2019 3:21 pm

    I love my naps when I can find the time for them. I go to sleep on the sofa during the day with the TV going full blast. The next thing I know my husband has turned the TV off “so you can sleep better”, but I have never been able to convince him that I can sleep through a marching band going through my house. It’s just the quiet that wakes me up and spoils my nap. Naps are a wonder thing and a special gift.

    Reply
  25. Tammy Moody - June 3, 2019 4:26 pm

    Thank you for making me laugh so hard I spit out my dentures! Now it’s time for my nap…
    PS – I don’t wear dentures. But I am taking a nap! Love and Hugs to you and Jamie!

    Reply
  26. James A Clark Jr - June 3, 2019 4:31 pm

    Ok anyone can join AARP they just won’t begin benefits until they are 50

    Reply
  27. Dru - June 3, 2019 9:06 pm

    I wish I weren’t asthmatic so I wouldn’t almost asphyxiate myself laughing over Uncle Larry and the thumbtack and “Forgive me, Lord.” I wish AARP would stop reminding me how old I am. And all the Me TV commercials, ye gods. How can I properly enjoy Matt’s taciturnity, Doc’s philosophy, and Festus’s masterful command of the English language when people keep telling me I need burial insurance? Wish I knew more Episcopalians. 😁

    Reply
  28. Nora Klunk - June 3, 2019 9:34 pm

    Thank you so much for this reading today. I oh so needed the laugh !!!!!!! Bless you and yours. Keep up the good work.

    Reply
  29. Susan Kennedy - June 3, 2019 10:35 pm

    😂😂😂 Best post ever!!! Naps are the best!!

    Reply
  30. Robert Chiles - June 3, 2019 11:45 pm

    My wife and I both describe waking up from a good hard Sunday afternoon nap as “being stupid.” Sometimes it takes twenty minutes to shake off the stupor, but oh, it feels so good.

    Reply
  31. Jan - June 4, 2019 1:50 am

    Sean, I loved the dialog between you and your wife after she found you. It sure does ring true! My husband used to sit in his favorite wingback chair in our living room with the Bible in his lap every night. He was 6’6″ tall and I would find him with his mouth wide open and his head hanging down to his belly. He always denied sleeping and said that he was reading his Bible. We had the same go arounds as you two had so frequently that I finally gave up. He’s passed on to be with Jesus now, but this brought back some great memories. Thank you!

    Reply
  32. JANICE R TAKASHIMA - June 6, 2019 11:29 pm

    Both my daughters are old enough for AARP so now we can go on more discounted adventures. Go for it, Sean!

    Reply
  33. Janet Mary Lee - June 10, 2019 3:51 pm

    How I can relate!! Even my dog knows nap time and thankfully follows suit!! Once again, best ever…and great drawing!!!

    Reply
  34. Lee Aldrich - June 16, 2019 2:30 pm

    HAHAHAHAHAHA! Oh My Lord! Woke Oscar – the little dog sleeping in my lap – with out-loud, no-holds-barred, tickled-pink laughter. He’s looking at me like I’m nuts. Or he’s annoyed I’ve disturbed his nap. Oh well. It didn’t end with a thumbtack. Thank you for a fabulous read!

    Reply
  35. Russell McLaney - July 3, 2019 12:48 pm

    Naps? Take’em. You won’t be sorry!!!

    Reply
  36. Linda Crawford - July 3, 2019 1:57 pm

    Nobody writes like Sean

    Reply

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