After waking up like a damp gazebo one morning, Lloyd Zandberg reckons that summer is not for him.
A week ago it was still cold enough to wear a scarf, but suddenly, without warning, it got hot. Summer had pounced unexpectedly.
Since I moved from Swakopmund back to the city of my birth, Windhoek, life has only been good to me. I’ve had a cold, sure, and I got lost once while chasing a buy-in-bulk toilet paper deal across town. I lived near the breadline for a week and had to eat mielie pap every day. But whenever trouble pokes out its nasty little head, I give it a whack and rumble on. I haven’t yet had to make a late-night call to a lawyer I don’t have, or take a dodgy cash loan. No crisis, then. On top of all this good fortune, I’ve also met great people and made some new friends. Some of those friends are even allowed to come around, drink coffee, braai and sleep over if they feel like it.
The happiness couldn’t last though, could it? This past weekend I hit a speed bump. You see, summer is not for me. I can’t be hot; it’s not good for my mental health. And as soon as it gets warmer than 15° C, I break into an anxious sweat like a tail-ender squaring up against Kagiso Rabada. A week ago it was still cold enough to wear a scarf, but suddenly, without warning, it got hot. Summer had pounced unexpectedly – in the middle of winter. I’m an insomniac. I’m not one of those people who brush their teeth, drink a glass of water, walk to the bedroom, switch off the lights, fumble around for a minute and start snoring. To get me to fall asleep is impossible. Imagine you had to paint the roof of a school hall using just one litre of paint – that impossible. And while I’m lying in bed trying to fall asleep, that’s exactly what I’m thinking about: How I’ll paint that whole roof with just one litre! One of my new friends is called Jana. Her husband Danie also struggles to sleep. His insomnia is even worse than mine. He once went eight days without sleep! I saw him on day eight and he looked like a milk tart without a crust, all wobbly and a little grey. Eventually he went to see a sleep specialist – his marriage was at stake. The specialist stuttered a bit, Danie told me, but he knew all about sleep. A pill was prescribed and it worked like a charm. Maybe too well, according to Jana, who says that the place where Danie pops that pill is the place where he’ll fall asleep. When they go out these days, they take an inflatable mattress in the boot. Just in case.
So we’re busy having a braai and a few drinks over the weekend. It’s jolly. Eventually the sun slips away and soon the guests start slipping away, too. Danie pops his pill and settles down on his blow-up mattress next to the fridge. Soon he’s a goner. Finally the only things still standing are me and the fire. But then the fire beds down and I’m still nowhere near sleepy. I’m kind of like Usain Bolt after he’s just won the 100 metres: slightly out of breath but keen for more! I’m tired, yes, but my brain doesn’t want to know about it. I chase the Sandman for a while, but soon even he turns in. Gatvol, I get up and go looking for Danie’s box of pills. I find the box and read the prescription on the back. Sounds okay. When I’m fed up, I’m prone to being impulsive. How bad can one sleeping pill be? I’ll wake up eventually, surely? My backlog of sleep is getting serious, this must be a good plan… I swallow the pill, yawn a bit and soon I’m dead to the world.
I wake up in a weird position, wedged between the dining room table and the sliding door into the garden. I feel like a gazebo that has been stuffed back into its bag while still damp. I’m sweaty, uncomfortable, annoyed – and hot. “How long did I sleep for?” I ask Jana. “Right through spring!” she replies with a smirk. Ouch.