The flip flop flings against the flesh of my feet. Left says flip; right says flop. Flip-flop-Flip-flop: alternating pitches, a third apart, like the bouncing bass notes on a Hawaiian ukulele song. When you hear a sound repeat often enough, like walking in flip flops, you end up not noticing it at all; like the chiming of the clock in our family room; like the lady sitting next to you in church breathing heavy through a whistling nostril. She’s used to it. You’re not. Or the guy two rows back from us in the movie theatre last month who snored through the show. Kind of an expensive nap. And really irritating for the rest of us. Don’t you think snoring on certain levels should wake the snorer up? I know I wake up sometimes and think to myself, “Golly, it’s awfully quiet in here.” I think it’s really weird that the people we are closest to know certain things about us that we just don’t know ourselves; such as how we sleep. I’ve listened to our kids talk so much about our sleeping habits that I once asked them to record me sleeping so I would know what they were talking about. None of them ever did. I think they were embarrassed for me. I think they still are.
When they were making sleeping assignments for Stake Girls Camp two years ago I had to be candid with Kathy Wood, our Stake Camp Director. The cabins sleep 16, which is really great. Right?
“Uh…” I was a new Young Womens president and was trying to find my definition with the girls, trying to make myself fit somewhere respectably between mature and deeply spiritual and fun with a little pinch of crazy.
“Uh, I have a little problem Kathy.” I know Kathy pretty well, which is a blessing. I know she fits really soundly in the ideal and hard to achieve “fun and really spiritual” category, and I know she knows and likes me.
“I’m afraid I’ll keep the girls awake with my snoring. I’m afraid I’ll take a dive in the coolness department when I keep them awake with my snoring. Either that or I won’t get any sleep cuz I’m afraid I’ll keep them awake with my snoring. I keep my own kids awake. Dang this deviated septum of mine! I think we need a separate cabin for snorers. We can call it the Snoratorium.”
So Kathy, much to her credit, and maybe because some of her counselors have the same problem, did just that: she created the Snoratorium in the sleeping rooms behind the kitchen. She arranged for our campsite to be close by. So every night after we made our Smores and did our figurative jigs around the campfire, I sat in my canvas camp chair in the middle of the cabin where most of our girls slept. While they situated their worn out bodies on their blow up air mattresses I sang them songs, plucking the strings of my guitar like a ticking clock, like a pendulum swinging back and forth, back and forth…you are getting sleeeeeepy.
After I could hear the rhythmic pulse of 16 girls sound asleep I would slip on over to the Snoratorium and get some rest.
One night, it must have been around 1 am, the whole campground was sawing logs. I was down to the really quiet songs from my repertoire. I tried to finish every night by singing a hymn, feeling like it left a kind of musical blessing on my girls before I tiptoed out. So I am halfway through the second chorus of How Great Thou Art… “Then sings my soul – My Savior God to Thee – How great thou….” Suddenly one of the girls, who’s name shall go unmentioned, a girl not in our ward but who was visiting, threw her blanket off the top bunk she was sleeping on. She let out a triple-nasty word, which shall also go unmentioned but which began with the letter between e and g in the alphabet, followed by a grumbled… “Why is it so *@#%! hot in here?!” I sprang from my seat, banging my guitar on the table in front of me, stung and startled and feeling really responsible for the protection of the other girls’ soft skinned ears. I immediately called the name of the unmentioned, moving toward her as she started climbing off her top bunk. It didn’t take long for me to realize she was still asleep. I gently helped her return to her bunk, opened the window a little wider beside her, and asked her to sleep gently and softly and gracefully. And quietly. Actually, she didn’t hear me. I asked God to help her do that.
I felt like I needed to open the door and let the nasty out, (like these girls didn’t hear this kind of stuff every day at school). I actually tried to apply my powers of energy to shoo the bad out the door and beckon the good fresh mountain air in with a wave of my hands; to cleanse the space where my young innocents were situated in a mode of sweet repose. After enough time had passed and the girls who had stirred were back to their steadily paced breathing, I picked up my guitar and sang I Am a Child of God, feeling like we needed another blessing on the place. When I was done I tucked my instrument in its canvas pouch and ever-so-slowly zzzzipped it shut. You know how long it takes to silently zip a guitar gig bag? I placed it in its corner in the cabin; walked to each set of beds and whispered a little prayer for each of my girls, then slipped out the door. Outside, walking along the gravelly path under the shifting light of the moon through the trees, I got to thinking.
Maybe next time, I thought, we should suggest they create another isolated cabin.
We’ll call it the Swearatorium.