Sleepy, Snoring Man School
(Belleville, Illinois circa 1995)
I was rail thin in high school. My first driver’s license revealed that I was 6’1 inch tall and weighed 145 pounds at the age of sixteen. I remember dreaming of weighing 175 pounds and drinking milk shake after milk shake to put on weight. This continued through college, two years of teaching and graduate school, but upon moving to Georgia things began to change. First, I was turning thirty and the old metabolism was slowing to a crawl. Secondly, I really like southern cooking and they simply fry everything; fried chicken, fried vegetables, fried eggs, fried hamburgers, fried sausage and fried pies. The Georgians were frying and I was eating. After three years, I was getting a bit plump and went on to add a couple of pounds per year my five years in Sumner, then really began to pack them on upon our move to Fairview Heights. After a while, I was in the 215 range, my blood pressure shot up and I began to snore. I have always hated snoring and struggled not to hate people who snore (reminding myself we don’t normally hold things against people they do while unconscious), but now I was a snorer. I didn’t believe it at first but by the summer of 1995, the evidence was insurmountable. Melissa could take no more and so I was ordered to a Sleep Clinic or in my vernacular, “Sleepy, Snoring Man School.” It was really fascinating; they hook you up to dozens of electrodes for 24 hours and then take turns telling you to try to take a nap and then waking you up. This was a pitch down the middle for me because with the exception of 10:00 pm until 12:00 am (normal human bedtimes), I can go to sleep on demand. I was going to graduate from Sleepy, Snoring Man School magna cum laude!
As my time ended in the clinic, I was unsure how I would be discharged and when they would post my grades. I was released without fanfare with round suction marks all over my body. I looked liked I had been slow dancing with a frisky octopus. They informed me as I was leaving that the results would be delivered to me in person by the doctor the following week and scheduled an appointment. The next week I arrived at the doctor’s office wondering what I would be told. I thought it was possible I would be put on a “land shark” machine but I wasn’t sure I was that bad. I wondered if I had developed some kind of obstruction that would require surgery and wondered if they would want to do it right away. When I entered the office, I was met by a doctor of Asian descent who spoke with a thick accent. He invited me to be seated, stared at my grades and looked at me intently and said, “You too fat.” That was it. “You too fat.” I was infuriated; I know Sleepy, Snoring Man School could not have been cheap and I had expected far more from the doctor than this. I needed more but there was nothing; he was done. I was guessing he made about $1,000 a word.
To prove him wrong, I lost about thirty pounds over the next year; with the weight loss my blood pressure returned to normal and I stopped snoring.
-Excerpt from “Re:member” (2013) by Rev. Shane L. Bishop