the time i almost got myself killed for sleepwalking
In September of 2012, after a reading at the Cake Shop, I was pretty tired. I thought I would spend the night running around from one party or bar to the next after the reading. But I’d woken up at 4:30 that morning to watch bad Nickelodeon shows on Netflix with my daughter, then driven 5 ½ hours to NYC, spent a few hours at a little dive bar called the Blue & Gold and then a few more at the reading. I was by no means falling down drunk, but over the course of the evening I’d had 6 or 7 beers and I just wanted to get some rest. I walked with my dear old college friend and his lovely girlfriend the 7 or so blocks to his 5th floor walk-up apartment on St Marks Place where I was promised a couch to crash on for a bit before waking up early the next morning to drive home. We smoked a few cigarettes, laughed over some old stories we’ve told each other dozens of times, and I was feeling content and ready to get some much needed sleep.
Since I was a child, I have been known to sleepwalk. Most commonly this happens when some small auto-pilot region of my brain recognizes that I need to get myself to a bathroom and it tries to navigate me there without waking up the rest of my brain. It does not have a very good sense of direction. My mother claims to have found me just in time to prevent me from pissing into the clothes hamper, my sister’s bed, or a garbage pail on numerous occasions. So, a few hours after falling asleep, when the beer I’d consumed had made it’s way through my body and I was semi-awakened by the fullness of my bladder, my faulty half-conscious navigator decided to transport my body to a bathroom in an apartment, the layout of which even my fully-conscious mind had not yet memorized.
Since I was not fully awake, I do not remember exactly what happened next, but after a bit of crime scene reconstruction the next morning I feel as though I can make some fairly safe guesses. The kitchen in the apartment has three doorways, one of which leads into the living area where I’d been sleeping, the next leads into the bathroom and the last leads out into the 5th floor hallway. I chose door number 3. Finding myself in the hall, my mind sought to course-correct as best it could, but the thing about doors in hallways is that they mostly look alike. I must’ve walked a few steps before realizing that I was not in fact in a bathroom and then simply walked into the apartment to which I was nearest. Upon doing so I quickly noticed a bathroom to my left and felt safe in the assumption that I’d reached my intended destination.
I closed the door behind me and opted to drop my pants and have a seat. Ostensibly, I only had to pee, but I was tired and needed a break from all the walking I’d just done. I heard footsteps approaching the door and probably assumed that I’d awoken my friend or his girlfriend with my walking about. As seemingly no one had seen fit to equip any of the doors in this old building with locks, I put my hand on the doorknob just in case whoever was walking toward the bathroom didn’t know that it was already occupied. As I felt the doorknob start to turn in my hand, I pulled it closed and announced that I was in there. The pulling from the other side became more insistent, the doorknob slipped from my hands and the door flung open to reveal someone on the other side that was neither my friend or his girlfriend. In fact, I didn’t recall ever having met this person in my life.
What happened next is kind of a blur. The large man in his late 20s to early 30s demanded I get the fuck out. I was confused for a second and then suddenly realized what I’d done. I quickly stammered out an apology and a plea that he just close the door for a second while I reapplied my pants. He was insistent that I leave immediately and quickly became very hostile and threatening. He introduced me to his rather imposing dog which had squeezed itself into the tiny bathroom with me to see what all the commotion was about. The dog itself did not seem particularly concerned about my presence there, but nevertheless curiously poked its snout between my bare knees to sniff out the situation. The man, probably realizing that his dog was not providing the requisite amount of intimidation then brandished a very big, very sharp knife and angrily repeated his demands that I immediately vacate the premises. I was trapped, half-naked in the most compromising position a man can find himself. I tried to explain why I was there but I was still confused about all the facts myself. Even as I prepared to comply with his orders, he continued to threaten me with grave bodily harm. Another gentleman appeared in the doorway. Now there were two of them and a large dog between me and the apartment’s exit. The second fellow seemed to have a cooler head about the situation and understood that I’d simply wandered into the wrong apartment. He briefly reasoned with the knife guy and this gave me the out I needed to quickly pull up my pants and leap out into the hallway just as the door slammed behind me. I found my way back to my friend’s apartment, made it to the couch and immediately fell back into a sound sleep. I don’t think I remembered to flush.