When I’m not busy curing world hunger or throwing live rattlesnakes at orphans, you’ll typically find me reclined by the rooftop pool, surrounded by neighbors up there to soak up the sun. Like the yellow head of a sunflower stalk, they incrementally adjust themselves to achieve maximum UV exposure. Also like plants, they’re exceptionally vegetative. It’s rare that I see someone with a book, a magazine, even a goddamn iPhone open to a pornographic website. These individuals leave work, arrive home, slip into a swimsuit, take the elevator upstairs, find a suitable chair, and pass the fuck out.
Is this a sleep disorder? Narcolepsy? Am I missing the carbon monoxide fumes emanating from the men’s bathroom? If it were truly a canary in the mine situation, I would have long ago succumbed to black lung or a cave-in or whatever it is canaries are supposed to foretell. Maybe they’re just down there to cheer the miners up, which I think would be an awfully good idea if the poor birds didn’t die from the poisonous air. If I’m expected to cheer my neighbors (or let them know that something toxic is adrift), I think I’m doing an awfully poor job. They’re dropping like flies.
Seriously, though, how can a person, day-in, day-out, sleep in full daylight, accruing all sorts of uncomfortable plastic strap marks and unsightly half-tans? Maybe it’s not the sleeping I’m so concerned about – I do understand that warm air + soothing waterfall sounds = sleepyhappytimes – but the fact that no one else in my apartment complex seems to have anything better to do by the pool than sleep. Do they have hobbies, pastimes, anything they like to do besides conk out in the sun? Are they literate? I’ve got some great graphic novels they can test the whole reading thing out with. Lots of pictures, just a few words; perfect for the pool and/or learning how to read.
I’m making broad generalizations, of course, based on neighbors who I quite literally only see by the pool. Outside of the swimmin’ ho’, this apartment complex might as well be inhabited by a semi-sentient species of dust motes. I once saw a man getting his mail at the same time as me. He looked up from the mailbox, startled, eyes wide like a young doe staring down the oncoming headlights of a high-speed train. Something came out of his throat that might have been a greeting, but might also have been phlegm. “GHULLE,” he grunted, spittle flying several feet across the lobby. He then snatched up the remnants of his mail in a big overflowing armful and galloped off towards the elevator bank. When I heard the elevator depart for distant floors I finally mustered the courage to slip out from the behind the trash can. I don’t know if he ever actually saw me. I hope not.
Honestly, these people could all be Nobel laureates, Pulitzer prize winners, or inbred members of the Honey Boo Boo clan – I just don’t know. I see them quietly sleeping by the pool or preparing to sleep by the pool or coming out of a coma by the pool and I can only assume that perhaps this is all they know. Eat, work, sleep. On the weekends, sleep a little more, work a little less. Sometimes at night I can see the flickering glow of televisions in apartments across the courtyard, but does that really count as a hobby? An interest? I suppose it’s a semi-conscious activity, at least, and maybe they’re watching something other than re-runs of Duck Dynasty. With the way they sleep, though, they’re most likely simmering in front of Antiques Roadshow, just waiting to die.