“Talking in your sleep was never so funny. . . . [Adam Lennard’s] nighttime alter-ego is rude and crude and certainly sounds insane.” ABC News (online) on the Sleep Talkin’ Man blog
Karen Slavick met Adam Lennard in 1991 on a Kibbutz in Israel, where he declared his love for her by passing out in her bed while he waited for her to return from a midnight swim. Understandably, she never forgot him. Over a decade later, they rekindled their romance and marriedbut then he fell asleep again, and all hell broke loose. Though he’s a romantic and mild-mannered Englishman by day, Adam quickly morphs into the uproariously foul-mouthed, vegetarian-hating, wildlife-obsessed character beloved by millions as Sleep Talkin’ Man. And Karen has the audio tapes to prove it. Sleep Talkin’ Man collects the best of his questionable wisdom along with tales from blog readers, and stories of how love can bloomeven when your beloved is a nocturnal maniac. By turns crude and charming, Sleep Talkin’ Man is a hilariously candid journey into one man’s dreamland.
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"This is my story. It starts with me. And it ends with me. And everything in the middle is about me. Greatest fucking story ever written."
My husband is a lovely person.
I feel compelled to repeat these words every time I talk to someone about, or meet someone who has heard about, Adam's sleep talking. You see, about three-and-a-half years ago, I suddenly discovered that the sweet, mild-mannered Englishman with whom I share my life has a very different side to him that is only revealed when he goes to sleep. By day, Adam is delightful: kind, generous, clever, romantic, insightful, humble, respectful, infinitely likeable. You'd love him. But at night, the man who chatters at my side is ruthlessly cutting, profoundly egomaniacal, bizarrely perverse. In short, the antithesis of his waking self.
So before you go poking around in this book, please take my word for it that Sleep Talkin' Man — the alter ego, the insult comic, the baby-juggling donkey jockey — is an aspect of my husband that he reserves entirely for his sleeping hours. Adam does not wish to exterminate all vegetarians, he does not spend his days lobbing the c-bomb at everyone in his sphere, and he does not have a badger trained to attack on command (although, that could be pretty handy sometimes). So what is Sleep Talkin' Man? Where does he come from? Is he a monster comprised of the darkest elements of Adam's soul, kept repressed and hidden from the waking world? Is he the spectre of obnoxious, self-obsessed men everywhere crying out to be heard? Is he the cynical, embittered spirit of Charles Bukowski? We'll probably never know. Best to just enjoy him while he's around, and be thankful he's not running the nation.
As far as anyone knows, Adam had never really talked in his sleep before I came along. His parents had never heard him. His former wife of eight years never heard him. He does have an old girlfriend from university who came forward and reported that Adam used to randomly swear in his sleep now and then, but nothing more elaborate than that. So it would appear that Sleep Talkin' Man was born late one February night in 2009.
The end of that evening had gone the way of most of our evenings: Adam had given me a kiss goodnight, snuggled down into covers, and was asleep within ten seconds. I had gazed down at him in envy, sighed, and turned my attention to an online Killer Sudoku puzzle, hoping it wasn't going to be another one of my insomniacal nights.
About half an hour had passed like that. I was still doing my puzzle, waiting for sleepiness to steal over me. The flat was silent except for Adam's steady rhythmic breathing and the ticking of the kitchen clock. Suddenly, Adam reached up, patted my head and intoned, "Yeeeesssss. Sleeeeeeep." OK, perhaps this was a bit peculiar. But it was relevant, and good advice, so I didn't think much of it.
A few minutes later, he declared quite emphatically into the silence, "Enough with the cheese. Enough!" Well, sure, I do eat a lot of cheese. I'm not ashamed to admit it. But my cheese consumption hardly seemed worthy of such scorn. I started to giggle, and then to laugh out loud. Not surprisingly, my guffaws roused him from his mumbling slumber. When I relayed what had happened, I'm not sure that he actually believed me, but he giggled along anyway.
It was a few weeks before I heard from Adam's sleeping self again. "Little people are FUNNY!" he muttered in my ear during an afternoon nap. Yikes, I thought, I guess my husband is not quite as politically correct in his sleep as he is in his waking life.
It was in mid-July though, still very early days, when Sleep Talkin' Man fully revealed his true colors. It was a peaceful, silent night, when out of the darkness I heard, "Consider yourself fired ... dickhead." Whoa. This was the first indication that I was spending my nights with a truly different animal than the man I had married. First of all, I'm pretty confident that, until that moment, Adam had never uttered the word "dickhead" in his life. Not because he's averse to swearing when the situation calls for it, but as an Englishman from an upper-middle class background, he'd be far more inclined to use the traditional "wanker" or "tosser" when out to demean. And on top of that, I couldn't imagine Adam could ever sack someone with such obnoxious yet effortless aplomb. That was when I started to think of Adam's sleep talking as the words of not the Adam I knew, but of someone else entirely. And he could be a real, well, dickhead.
From that point on, Adam talked in his sleep more and more frequently. It started out every couple of weeks. Then it was every few nights. Then nearly every night. And finally, loads every single night. Sleep Talkin' Man came to have such a strong, individual presence in our life, we began to think of him as an entirely separate entity, a sort of third spouse who, instead of helping around the house or earning money for the family, provides us with regular, if unusual, comic relief.
Sleep Talkin' Man's appearance in my life also kicked off an eye-opening education in British slang. Never from Adam alone would I have been exposed to the infinite ways in which the English can employ our shared mother tongue to patronize and humiliate. The "C word" alone — used much more liberally in the United Kingdom, and generally as an insult to men rather than women — has been demonstrated by STM (as we call him for short) to have inexhaustible application.
(When putting this book together, we had to decide whether to leave the words exactly as STM spoke them, or make them more American-friendly. We settled for keeping the language intact, although we did convert to American spellings. So as you read, keep in mind, my fellow Americans, that "pissed" means drunk, "knickers" are panties, "cunt" is not as bad as you're used to, and if you come across a completely bewildering word or phrase, well, it's probably one of those silly British things. I've included a handy glossary of Britishisms in the back of the book, for those occasions when context just isn't enough.)
From the beginning, I was enjoying Adam's sleep talking far too much to keep it to myself. Skype sessions with my friends and family back in the United States always began with an update of the latest and greatest from STM. Meeting new people, I always found a way to work the subject in at parties, at the grocery store, to anyone who'd listen. I just couldn't get enough of it. I loved Adam's sleep talking so much, I decided to share it with the world, via a blog. And now, it's come to you in this book. I hope you get even a fraction of the delight reading STM's words of wisdom that I got from hearing them uttered in the night. Or, if nothing else, I hope you come away with a truly shattering insult to use in just the right moment, awake or asleep.
"I'm so happy I could shit a puppy.
* * *
So this is what it feels like to be a gummy bear! I can't walk though, I have to rock. I think I'll call myself BerNARD. Not BERnard. BerNARD. And I'll be a golden gummy bear.
* * *
Even my reflection is jealous of me.
* * *
You know, it would be easier to kill the vegetarians than invite them to dinner. Bloody fucking lentils.
* * *
Congratulations. You may now wipe your face on my butt cheeks."
"Well, fuck you! Fuck you, Amazon. You don't KNOW me. I kill puppies. Suggest something for me NOW then, you shit-spreading bastard-Doh! Bathtub fairy lights! Mmm, pretty.
* * *
You really are life's wet patch. An embarrassing little stain that no one wants to admit to ... or sleep on.
* * *
I'm sorry. I'm gonna have to bag up all my nasal hair. It'll take me hours, but, it will be worth it! Breathe in, breathe out I didn't fucking say breathe in again!
* * *
I've got a great game. You get a car, and a house. A good life. Then shit happens, you lose everything. I'm gonna call it Grand Theft Divorce."
"A tense moment at the farmyard roller disco competition ... Everyone's waiting for chicken to get her skates on ... Will she perform, or will she chicken out?
* * *
I shit gold, piss silver, and puke bronze. I don't need a medal to tell me how fucking awesome I am. Got that, bitches?
* * *
Go on, cry motherfucker. I'm gonna dip my dim sum in your tears.
Watch out! I've got a hot-pant leg-warmer moment coming on."
"If at first you don't find love ... Google harder!
* * *
You know what's missing from your pictures? Artistic fucking talent. Now get a proper job, you loser.
* * *
I'd rather peel off my skin and bathe my weeping raw flesh in a bath of vinegar than spend any time with you. But that's just my opinion. Don't take it personally.
* * *
Handle with care: contains awesomeness.
* * *
You really are two l-don't-cares short of a fuck-off."
"I hope you guys don't mind, but I brought my vegetarian substitute. Would you mind cooking that roast leg of lamb for me? Just don't let your veggie burgers touch it. Thank you.
* * *
Badger tickling: proceed with caution.
* * *
There's a little bit of me that's just a little bit excited. A little flu bit. No, you CAN'T SEE I
* * *
I am simply far too busy being passive aggressive to give a shit about you.
* * *
Yeah, you can find it on www.uselessfiicldngpieceofcockshitesuckingtitfuck.com."
"You're gonna have to shave your pubes. It's like fighting an army of permed spider legs down there, and I'm gonna lose. I'm gonna lose.
* * *
I'm in a totally zen-like state ... Can't you tell how fucking zen I am?!
* * *
You got an issue with my goat, you got an issue with me. Come on, goat. We're going somewhere where we're welcome. Baaaaah.
* * *
Seriously, what am I going to do with a dead rat? Honestly. Your presents are getting worse and worse."
"Fuck it. I'm gonna build a fetish costume for my chicken."
"Shhhhhhhhh. I'm telling you: Your voice, my ears. A bad combination."
You may be wondering how I get any sleep with Adam chattering the night away. In truth, it's not as bad as it sounds: First of all, Adam does all of his talking for a night in one stint. Even if he comes out with, say, six quotes, it's all within a fifteen-minute period. So, it's not as if I'm being awakened every hour by his prattling on. And then there's my chronic insomnia. Often when STM makes his appearance, I have been lying there wide-eyed and alert for a while, desperate for any distraction. On such nights, Adam's sleep talking is a gift that breaks the monotony of those long sleepless hours (which may help to answer the question of how I can be so amused by STM, instead of wanting to, say, slap some duct tape over his mouth). Of course, there are occasions that his sleep talking does wake me from a sound sleep. But by now, I am as attuned to it as a mother to the late-night cries of a child; no matter how deeply I am under, when STM appears I immediately snap awake. There is no practical reason for this, mind you, as I have the recorder going all night. But I love hearing STM's pronouncements first hand, and besides, if I'm awake, I can hold the recorder right near his head for maximum audio quality. Conveniently, Adam's sleep talking sessions are always preceded by a couple of quiet little groans or whimpers, which immediately wake me up and give me the five seconds I need to achieve full alertness, grab the recorder, and assume the position. Amazingly, the loudest snoring from either Adam or Molly the little beagle doesn't disturb my slumber in the slightest, and yet the tiniest "hrmph" has me instantly primed and ready for action!
I know what you're thinking: How did a nice girl like me end up with a digital recorder permanently installed on the bedside table? Well, when Adam first started talking in his sleep, it was so novel and surprising for me that those early quotes were stamped indelibly on my memory. After those first few times, though, it was clear that I soon wouldn't be able to keep it all in my head anymore, so I started keeping a written log for myself. Over time, Adam became more prolific, offering a number of quotes in one night, and I could no longer trust my memory to make it until morning. So, the moment he would start jabbering, I'd immediately pop open the computer and start typing away furiously, trying to keep up with his quick-fire pace. This approach had a number of issues:
1. It was stressful. You try taking dictation at top speed in the dead of night!
2. As surreptitiously as I tried to type, Adam would start incorporating the sounds of the typing into his dreams (clip-clop of horses, applause, rain). This was amusing, but always ultimately resulted in him waking up.
3. I was reluctant to go to sleep AT ALL, in case I missed anything.
Once I took note of that last one, I knew something had to change. And that's how I ended up with my trusty little Olympus. Now I press the red button every night before we go to sleep, and snuggle down for as a good a night sleep as my chronic insomnia will allow. I still hear everything STM comes out with first hand, because Adam's sleep talking invariably wakes me, but now I can just lay back, stress-free, and giggle into my pillow.
For the geeks out there — or otherwise interested folks — here's how it works. First of all, the recorder is sound-activated. So I'm not faced with eight hours of oblivion to go through every morning. I end up with somewhere between thirty to sixty minutes. Of course, most of that is not sleep talking; it's Adam and me having a final chat, the heater kicking on, Molly snoring loudly, the subtle creak of the bed every time one of us turns over, and a host of other nighttime noises. I certainly don't have the time or patience to sit and listen through all that once a day. Instead, I LOOK through the recording. I open the mp3 file in music editing software, and look through the waves to find the sleep talking. After three years of doing this, I can identify with barely a glance the pattern of a throat clear, a snore, a sigh, a truck rumbling past. ... So, amongst all of that, I find the actual sleep-talking quotes and create separate little audio clips of each. At the moment that I'm writing this, I've got 1,735 of them.
Having a recorder going from bedtime until morning every night has a further benefit, one that has nothing to do with Adam's sleep talking: it captures many lovely little moments in our relationship. I'm a hoarder of sentimental crap of all sorts, and my inability to delete audio files of our late-night and early-morning conversations is no different. In fact, I even have a recording of a conversation of us talking about me having recordings of our conversations!
KARE: You know what's nice? If you die, I'll have all these recordings of us talking.
ADAM: What? No! "Do you know what would be nice? If you die ..."
KAREN: No, that's not the part that's nice —
ADAM: Imagine if your tape recorder shut off right then.
KAREN: Let me try it differently: If you die, you know what would be ... nice? Even though that's horrible, that you're dead, what would be nice apart from that? That I'd have all these recordings of us talking.
ADAM: Listen: "I just thought of something really wonderful, which is no matter what happens to you, I'll always have recordings of us talking."
KAREN: Yeah, that's a better job.
ADAM: "You know what would be nice? If you die ..." You wake me up, to tell me it would be nice if 1 died.
KAREN: But you know what will be really ironic, is listening to this conversation then.
ADAM: You'll be like, "Yeah, this really IS nice!"
"Good morning. I just wanted to be the first person to call you a twat. Enjoy your day.
* * *
Oooh. You know what would be good? Ass bags. Big bags full of ass.
* * *
You know, you're not some precious flower. And if you were I'd be a weed and grow next to you and CHOKE YOU TO FUCKING DEATH! ... Love you.
* * *
Don't worry. I'll find it. That s what I do, find things. I find you annoying. See?"(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Sleep Talkin' Man"
Copyright © 2013 Karen Slavick-Lennard.
Excerpted by permission of Grove Atlantic, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I have been following the Sleep Talkin Man blog for a few years, laughing daily at STM. this book was a terrific shot in the arm of all his crazy off-the- wall humor in one place. My wife came in the room because of my guffaws and now she is reading it with me. It is great medicine--my wife says it is exercise too for my abdominals what with all the laughter. I really enjoyed its zaniness,