Monday, February 2, 2009


Two mornings ago, around 5:40 am, I woke up to Samantha, my girlfriend, stroking my arm, looking at me. "Give her your arm, Daddy." I looked at her with my eyes half-open. She has a tendency to mumble in her sleep, waking me up every other night with some nonsense whose gist I can barely recount for her over breakfast. Sam's one of the lucky 4% of adults whose parasomniatic condition has transgressed the bounds of puberty.

"What?" My first instinct was that this was another, albeit more pronounced episode; however, this time I could not reconcile my girlfriend's wide-open eyes, which had looked at me with such tender knowingness each of the three times she had orgasmed the night before, now staring at me in the twilight, thinking I was someone else. Yes, I was relieved she did not call me by her ex-boyfriend's name, although Sam did recall Rick nightmarishly chasing her that same night, his genital-less crotch covered in embryonic fluid like newborn Neo in The Matrix.

I sat up slightly to make sure her eyes were indeed open. She looked straight at me. "It's okay, Daddy. Give her your red arm." Sam looked into my gaze, stroked my arm gently one last time, and then lied back down. Within ten seconds she was silently sleeping again, this time her eyelids shut tight.

It's hard to explain what it's like for your girlfriend to look you square in the face and not just imagine for fun, nor simply mistake in the shadows of a hallway, but know with certainty that you are her daddy. I speculated that Samantha, a pre-med graduate student, had manifested a scenario in which her overweight, diabetic father needed her help, but Sam, never overreaching, knew her limitations and was simply assisting the nurse with the insulin injection.

As silly as it might sound, I couldn't look at Sam the same way in the morning. Her stranger's eyes penetrated me during that episode, and I was having trouble believing that she recognized me in her waking life. I asked her to say my name when we woke up. She said "Laci," (pronounced "Lutzi") the name I go by. I told her what had happened and she could summon the dream, but had no memory of the details or context. I tried kissing her, but morning kisses are always hesitant for fear of bad breath, and so I gave up indentifying the familiar curvature of her wet, puckered lips that she would never press to her father's.

I knew that it was in my head, and that it was unfair to blame Samantha for her somniloquy. But I also knew that it was something else. Her eyes open, piercing mine without recognition reminded me of childhood dreams I had of my father before my parents' temporary separation. Those dreams led me to distance myself from him for fear he would leave. My doubt about Samantha now comes from the feeling that we have grown close too fast, and that my hesitation to say "I love you" is not fear nor an unwillingness to open up. It is my better judgment protecting her and me from inertia and complacency, and from the dreams I know I have of others.

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