The First Time I Sleepwalked

That I know of, anyway.

Scott Muska
I THOUGHT THIS WAS WORTH SHARING
10 min readJun 19, 2024

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I woke up and had absolutely no idea where I was.

Which is generally not a good thing. And not a combination of feelings (disorientation meets anxiety meets full-blown panic with a little bit of abject horror thrown into the mix) you tend to get used to, no matter how often it might happen to you, and for what reasons.

Not my dorm room, that was for sure. Which was jarring and strange, given that I vividly remembered hitting the sack there the night before. It was my final memory of the evening, in fact.

I’d initially gone to bed very early, especially for a Friday night when you’re a college freshman. I was just a few days back to campus after a month-long stint of Mono that had fucked me up something fierce. I’d dropped something in the area of 20 pounds in just over a week. My tonsils had swollen so large they were, no joke, extremely close to touching each other. (It was so bad that scar tissue formed, leaving them perpetually swollen until I had them taken out two years later, another surgery that tangentially resulted in my losing the 20 pounds I had gained back. Neither is something I would recommend, but it was one way to keep it tight during the years of guzzling beers and going way too hard on the all-you-can-eat cafeterias and late-night pizzas.)

In the first three or so weeks, I hadn’t been able to eat much or sleep hardly at all, due to the excruciating pain, though I was experiencing a level of exhaustion and boredom-induced malaise where sleep would have been an excellent reprieve, not to mention a key facet in my ultimate recovery.

When I returned to campus I was still very ill, but had decided to try and academically raw-dog my way through the rest of the semester so it wouldn’t be a complete wash. To do this and stop feeling like complete shit, I needed to sleep, which I desperately wanted to do, and not party, which I couldn’t have done if I’d had the desire to try.

So I got heavy into Twin Peaks, as one does, plowing through the first season DVD disc by DVD disc that I’d get through the mail from Netflix, on nights when my roommate and other friends would go out to bong beers and hopefully sow some wild oats.

To his credit, my roommate was careful to try and not wake me when he came in at whatever hour. I’d usually at least stir and ask him how the night went as he drunkenly stripped down to his knickers and climbed up onto the top bunk, because I’ve always been an extremely light sleeper in particular, and a poor all-around sleeper in general. I also had some serious FOMO, and wanted to know what kind of crazy things had happened that I hadn’t been around to participate in or witness.

On this night, though, I didn’t remember him coming in. Though I did wake at some point when a pillow fell out of his bed and hit my foot, which was poking out of the covers, because I love nothing more than having cold feet.

I got out of bed to toss it back into his. This was met with a muffled sound from a female voice who, um, apparently had her mouth full. A woman he’d been pursuing for quite some time, and since we had all been rooting for him, me to the point I told him mostly in jest I’d bake him a Funfetti cake if ever he ended up hooking up with her, which, goddamnit, I was now going to have to do, apparently (I still owe him that cake, actually), I flashed a thumbs up with a smile and said, “As you were,” then climbed back into my bottom bunk.

I’m sure plenty of people have hooked up while Twin Peaks was on — I don’t know, David Duchovny cross-dressing can get you in all kinds of moods you can’t pretend to fully understand — but it seemed like a strange choice to me. One made mostly on my account, though, I assume, as they likely hadn’t wanted to wake me by turning it off and putting on a Sisqo CD or something.

I turned the volume up a couple clicks just in case other noises might interfere, and, out of politeness, continued watching the episode that was on, though I had no recollection at which point during it I had drifted off.

The woman made a swift exit. Guess I killed the mood by, you know, being awake. Catching a glimpse of her performing the art of fellatio on one of my best friends probably hadn’t helped. She did tell me she hoped I’d feel better soon on her way out, though. Could’ve been because if that were the case my roommate wouldn’t have felt bad kicking me out to sleep on the floor of another friend or whatever while he performed his sock-on-the-door activities. You never fully know a person’s motives, you know?

My roommate apologized and I apologized back.

“Least I have a cake coming my way,” he said.

“I was hoping you’d forget,” I said.

“Absolutely not,” he said. “Mind if we put on Lost, though? I have no idea what’s going on in this show.”

“You were trying to figure that out what was going on in Twin Peaks instead of focusing on, you know — all that? And also, you don’t know what’s going on in this show but you do know what’s going on on Lost?”

“Not really and also not really.”

We settled on SportsCenter.

Just before falling into another iteration of a slightly fitful slumber, I wished I was somewhere else, not a twin bed in a box of a shared room in Pennsylvania, and that I was with someone in particular who used to be very special to me, who was then far away in more ways than just the physical sense.

It seemed my wish had come partially true in the way wishes sometimes tend to do: She was not there, of course, for one thing, and I was not anywhere I really wanted to be. But I was indeed somewhere else.

I took a quick look around and deduced that I was in the basement laundry room of what I assumed and hoped was the old dorm building I lived in, three floors up. (If I had left the building, things were gonna get even weirder.) This took me a few minutes, as I rarely ventured to that laundry room, choosing instead to let my filthy clothing pile up until a weekend or holiday visit home.

I was on a very uncomfortable, threadbare couch.

And I was completely naked.

I’d gone to bed in a T-shirt and basketball shorts over boxer briefs.

I had not been, as previously established, drinking, so a rolling blackout could be ruled out as causation. I had not even taken any sleeping aids. While home for my month-long respite, I had taken Trazodone a few times without having been prescribed it. My mom had hooked that up from her supply, but had then looked more into it and found that a side effect could be getting an endless erection that will not go away without the assistance of surgery. Seemed like too much to risk for a few winks of sleep, so I stopped messing with that immediately, though I admit it had worked wonders.

My extremely uneducated hypothesis is that the mono had probably done something to my circadian rhythm, which was white-dude-with-two-left-feet bad to begin with, but I didn’t have much time to consider why or how I’d gotten where I’d gotten.

I had to focus all my groggy mettle on figuring out how to get back to my room, navigating several floors with nobody, or at least as few people as possible, seeing me completely naked.

First move was to hit the cardboard lost and found box, which was, unsurprisingly, empty. College kids will do anything for a buck, including “donating” plasma. So it was not at all above any of us to raid that box at the end of the week and see if we could get any kickbacks from Plato’s Closet.

Next up was a dive through the washers and dryers that did not prove fruitful, aside from a single pink no-show sock which wasn’t going to do me much good at all. Not to be a braggart or anything. And besides, a pink sock tugged snuggly over my genitals would probably make for an even weirder scene than just going for it in the full-on buff.

Which I resigned myself to do.

I took a deep breath and sprinted, in all my borderline-emaciated glory, up the several flights of stairs to my dorm floor, almost knocking down an unsuspecting co-ed carrying a couple coffees. It’d have been nice to be in the stage of my life I’m at now where I might’ve just accepted this awkward interaction for what it was and tried to diffuse it by saying something like, “This is absolutely not where I parked my car,” or, “Oh my god, I am so sorry,” but instead I just kept going and made a note to avoid this specific person like the plague for the rest of the semester and probably the entirety of my collegiate career.

After making it through that gauntlet, I realized that since I was completely naked, I did not have my room keys on me — unless I’d really gone full send and embarked on a brand new explorational journey while asleep — which included the key I needed to gain access to the floor. I had absolutely no idea what time it was, only that it was early in the morning on a Saturday, and that most of the degenerates on my floor would not be awake for at least the next couple hours.

So I, dick swinging, began banging on the door with all my might.

After what could have been a mere 30 seconds that felt like the better part of an hour, a friend of mine came out of his room and looked blearily at the full-glass door that I’d begun to consider trying to kick in with bare feet, or sprinting straight through like the Kool-Aid Man.

He began to laugh hysterically, especially when he saw the pleading look in my eyes, gave me the finger motion to wait just a second, then flipped me off, cackling all the while, and returned to his room. Came out with his cell phone and snapped a quick picture while I held both my hands over my dick. (I submitted it for consideration as the hero image for the family Christmas card the next year, but it was swiftly vetoed without due process.)

Finally, he opened the door and said, “Scott, what the fuck?”

“Thanks, dude,” I said, “Thank you so much,” and sprinted to my door. Which was locked. I started to bang on it to no avail, my friend watching me the entire time. I banged some more. Then some more. Long enough for others to start poking their heads out their doors and laughing hysterically, asking me what had happened. The friend who had let me in came back with a pair of sweat shorts, handed them to me, told me to put them on and that I could just go ahead and keep them. Then he invited me back to his room where we could wait for my roommate to return.

He gave me the first beer I’d had since the Mono had taken hold more than a month ago. If you’ve ever gone a month off the sauce during which you also dropped 20 pounds, I can tell you that your first drink once you cannonball off the wagon is going to be a real treat, no matter the time of day.

He remains one of my closest friends to this day.

As does my then-roommate, who eventually came back to tell stories of his travels. The woman he’d been engaged in a dalliance with that I had unwittingly witnessed had successfully kicked her roommate out of her dorm for the evening and used her siren’s call or whatever to get him to traipse through the late-spring snow over to her place, and he, as any of us would have, had gone for it — taking so much care to not wake me yet again that he hadn’t even glanced in the direction of my bed on his way out. So we’ll never know if I was gone before he left or after.

To this day, that night remains a mystery. And also a beginning. Many sleepwalking occasions would ensue through the years to come, and hilarious, albeit almost always embarrassing, anecdotes tended to come with them. At a certain point in my life, it seems even my subconscious would do inadvisable things in the interest of a vaguely entertaining story potentially coming from them.

I still think the mono was the catalyst for it all. Could have been some karmic retribution for my contracting it without knowing it then spreading it, via having the dumb luck to smooch several women in my building over a period of time when it was probably incubating, playing a part in setting forth an epidemic throughout Niagara Hall and beyond — not to mention the other completely innocent bystanders I impacted while apparently still carrying it that summer. I had kissed that woman who was and is now very far from me when we were rekindling things (I blew it in grandiose and regrettable fashion), which resulted in many on her school’s volleyball team coming down with the sickness.

I don’t, to my knowledge, sleepwalk now, and haven’t for more than a decade. Though it’s hard to really tell. I live alone and have for a very long time, so if I’m doing it and ending up back in my bed, there’s really no way of knowing.

But I still go to bed most nights wishing I was somewhere else, with a different person who remains special to me, but is now far, far away because I pushed her there.

I don’t sleep well.

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Scott Muska
I THOUGHT THIS WAS WORTH SHARING

I write books (for fun, and you can find them on Amazon), ads (for a living) and some other stuff (that seems to magically show up on the internet).