I Need Fifty-Nine Drinks



When I was 18 months old and napping one day, my aunt felt compelled to hold a mirror to my mouth to check my breathing and find out if I was still alive. I slept that deeply.

When I was an adolescent, my sister once poured a glass of water on my face while I was asleep. I didn’t wake up. This proved her hypothesis.

When I was in my thirties, two squalling babies kept me from REM sleep for a total of six years. I did not hurt them. They will make it up to me in my dotage by bringing me hazelnut lattes at The Home and helping me to change the channel when “The Price Is Right” is over.

As it turns out, too many people messed with a good thing.

Crushingly, this week, I can’t sleep.

Insomnia is largely unknown to me; ever since I first pledged to life and passed the initial hazing of swallowing multiple bowls of gummy rice cereal while strapped to a chair, sleep has been one of my favorite sorority sisters in the Delta Delta Gamma house.

But this week, sleep is a mo-fo, and it is my foe.

I know the cause of my open eyes. I know why my brain races. I know from whence my anxiety stems.

It’s a student, of course. I’d love to disclose all sorts of juicy details, but I daresay that’s unethical, even for someone of loose ethics like me. An abbreviated, anonymity-preserving profile of him might read: “batshit, narcissistic, delusional, illogical, excuse-making, sweet, sad, and, oh, yes, most likely alcoholic.”

All of you who have met this person in his many forms on the planet are nodding knowingly right about now, ja? This person, when you met an incarnation of him, caused you lost sleep, too, didn’t he?

But his presence in my life this academic year is teaching me all sorts of things I wasn’t aching to discover: he’s showing me how ill-equipped I am to deal with his pathologies—how easily the teacher role casts me as an enabler. He’s good, too. When I try to reset the boundaries a bit, drawing a pre-1989 line to send him back into East Berlin while I keep partying and buying truckloads of consumer goods over in West Berlin, he gets defensive and broken and lobs a few little rocks over at my wall. They take chinks out of me, too.

So all these hours when I’m not sleeping? I’m trying to figure out how to help both Gorbachev and me keep that all-important wall intact. I need the protection.

Dropping the labored metaphor, I can just say that he’s got me obsessing and has inspired an exhausting mania in my darker hours. I completely want him to miss the bus (see, he has a car or two, but can’t drive them, um, because doing that is expensive, so he has to take the bus. It’s not at all related to DUI issues.). I want him to miss the bus and miss class. Forever.

What’s getting me through this very minute of internal fretting and typing, this trying minute of 2:41 a.m., is the bear-hunting program I’m watching on Channel 10. All these guys in camouflage are kind of sad in their own way (and trust me, I can see the case for hunting…but baited bears?). They’re assuring themselves of their own worth with all their guns and gadgets, the same way poor Batshit and his delusions and drinking give him a skewed sense of validity. It’s all about wanting to feel that you’re powerful, that what you’re doing has a purpose, that you’ve got control over something, inn’t it?

Ooh, now that they’ve dropped the mighty beast, the shooters on the screen are urging me to buy an ATV trailer called the “Tail-gator.” Apparently, it can also help me drag carcasses out of the woods.

What I really need is an “Alkie-gator” to help me drag a student out of the classroom.

And fifty-nine gin and tonics to help me sleep.





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31 responses to “I Need Fifty-Nine Drinks”

  1. my4kids Avatar

    I take it he’s not your most favorite student? 🙂
    Sorry I couldn’t resist

  2. Lone Grey Squirrel Avatar
    Lone Grey Squirrel

    Hmmm. Maybe it would help to take him bear hunting and leave him to the bears. I am sure the bears ought to be able to draw the boundaries! ….or is that sort of radical solution frowned upon in the USA?

  3. liv Avatar

    You know, I’m kind of thinking that you could use this perhaps alcoholic kid to your advantage… befriend him, steal his hooch and then sleep?! no? no.

  4. kimber the wolfgrrrl Avatar
    kimber the wolfgrrrl

    Insomnia sucks, but insomnia inspired by fretful thinking sucks even more.

  5. Casdok Avatar

    Oh dear. Yes insomnia does suck.

  6. lime Avatar

    yeesh, he sounds just delightful to have around. how many weeks left in the term???

    i hope you sleep soon so batshit doesn’t take you into the cave of guano with him.

  7. Her Grace Avatar
    Her Grace

    I’m no help to you, except to say that Benadryl occasionally works (for the insomnia, not for the alcoholic student).

    I’m sorry. That situation sounds rough with a capital R.

  8. Franki Avatar

    people such as this are sleep terrorists. i wish you patience in dealing with him.

    and baited hunting is for pussies.

  9. Jazz Avatar

    He’s really not worth losing sleep over.

    Sit him down and tell him to back the F off.

  10. furiousBall Avatar

    Once again, you’re going to thank me for existing… I have this solved for you. Get a tranq dart gun. Next time this troublesome one comes around, shoot him. Then turn the gun on yourself. You’ll both rise restful and ready to face the day.

    You’re welcome.

    Seriously, this has to rank up there when I quoted Night Ranger back in the day. And by “back in the day” I mean like a few months ago.

  11. choochoo Avatar

    alcohol doesn’t really help me much with my insomnia. When I do fall asleep eventually, it sure does help me snore, though:D

    Oh, and my word verification is today is SXNOW… wtf? lol

  12. Maddy Avatar

    When sleep in missing or absent I find it’s always because my brain is in over-drive. HOpe you find cruise control soon.
    BEst wishes

  13. Theresa Avatar

    Whatever you do, don’t fail him or he might come back to haunt you next term…and please don’t tell me you are considering using bear-hunting tactics on the guy. 😉

  14. ana Avatar

    Insomnia can be a mighty pain in the ass, white you wait for something to drag him out of your class, how about that gin? It can help…it will help…

  15. frannie Avatar

    I wish I had some words of wisdom.

    but I don’t. sorry.

  16. CS Avatar

    I’ve been an insomniac for as long as I can remember. It sucls. But it doesn’t make sense to keep losing sleep over a student, no matter how pathological. Draw a line with him, and get some rest!

  17. SQT Avatar

    I have done the 48 hours thing with no sleep and it SUCKS! Drinking shots didn’t cut it so I ended up on medication. That sucks too.

    I wonder what would take your mind off of that student of yours? Me? I’d be fantasizing about how I could sabotage his car. Or his health. Whichever.

  18. August Avatar

    This is awful. Trying to deal with this kid on so little sleep will do you in.

    Hold tight, Joc. And let’s believe resolve is in the making.


  19. chelle Avatar

    I often wondered how a teacher/professor dealt with “those” students. I am sorry you are losing sleep over it. Egads the semester has only just begun. Hugs.

  20. Glamourpuss Avatar

    At the risk of teaching you to suck eggs and stating the bleedin’ obvious, I would say the following:

    As a teacher, one is principally an enabler, and good teachers care and want every student to do their best. But you can’t save anybody from themselves, and you can’t make anybody learn if they don’t want to.

    He is on his path, you are on yours, as with all encounters, you have something to teach each other, but it may not be the curriculum, and it may be a hard lesson about letting someone fail.

    As you say, all the time you try to make it right, you engage with him and unwittingly play along with his charade. Maybe you just need to stop playing, draw that line, and say, ‘Mate, you’re on your own; this is outside of my job description.’


  21. Tammie Jean Avatar
    Tammie Jean

    Lately I’ve been almost wishing for a little insomnia so I could get some stuff done at night when there’s no one to bother me.

    But I don’t envy your situation at all – I hope you can quiet your mind and get some rest…

  22. Diana Avatar

    So, so sorry. Insomnia is so aggrivating, especially if it’s due to the intrusion of Someone into your peace. I wish I had something of help to add, but I don’t.

    It’s the nature of The Beast.

    (Which, by the way, is the name of an extremely strong beer that would help you gain some sleep, not that that’d be healthy.)

  23. Keshi Avatar

    I think Im becoming an Insomniac real fast.


  24. steve Avatar

    I had one of those last semester, and alcoholism was also a factor. Dang, and it’s early in the semester. Too early. If you just want to talk, let me know.

  25. Claire Avatar

    What Glamourpuss said.
    I’m up nights right now due to ginormous amounts of snot. eewww!
    I can’t watch those hunting shows. I’m not precisely anti-hunting, but don’t see the point of blasting something out of a tree and then thinking “wow, I’m so manly”. If you were manly you’d just fight that bear with your bare hands, ya know? douchebags…

  26. Jazz Avatar

    There’s something for you in at my blog…

  27. Diesel Avatar

    Hey Jocelyn, send me an email, wouldja? I thought I had your address, but I done lost it. I’ve got something for you to sleep on. Diesel – at – mattresspolice.com.

  28. Dorky Dad Avatar
    Dorky Dad

    Can’t sleep? Welcome to my world. It sucks here.

    Bummer ’bout the student. Have I told you that I’m a part-time hitman?

  29. susan Avatar

    Sorry you have to deal with this guy. It can’t be easy. Eventually, he’ll go away and just be an tiny little blip on your otherwise spectacular life!

  30. Karen MEG Avatar
    Karen MEG

    Lack of sleep is rough, the couple of times I’ve experienced it was hell. Hope the situation with student gets better soon; I’m sure it’s a hazard of the job, and this is one of those cases that you’ve tried what you can. I’m also sure you’ve heard this before, but don’t let his problem become yours.

  31. Princess Pointful Avatar
    Princess Pointful

    Do you think that they ever have an idea of what kind of an impact they have on you?
    It’s really hard being that person who cares sometimes.

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