Thursday, January 24, 2008


One of the hazards of being in the public eye is that embarrassing moments have a way of catching up with you.

I’m not talking about the really stupid shit that inevitably comes back to haunt certain celebrities. Face it, if you’re going to dangle your kid over the rail of a hotel balcony (à la Michael Jackson), or fall into the Britney Spears / Lindsay Lohan Cycle o’ Personal Destruction, you’re throwing raw meat to the Tabloid Lions. No, I’m talking about little a celebrity Booger-Shot, or perhaps falling asleep at an inopportune time, as did Bill Clinton at a Martin Luther King Day observance this week.

All kinds of delightfully snarky Humor Opportunities come bubbling up to the surface here. “I had a dream, too...just now!” “Who’s the Nappy-Head now?” But admit it: Who can blame Bill for falling asleep during a frickin’ speech?

I don’t care who was speaking or who was being honored. Fact is, listening to someone standing behind a lectern and bloviating is a more powerful soporific than a fistful of Ambien. Take it from me, an inveterate Speech Sleeper.

I cannot tell you how many times I have dozed off during corporate meetings. Sitting in a warm room full of bored salespeople, listening to someone drone on and on in front of a screen filled with the PowerPoint Page from Perdition - the kind with 800 bullet points and 276 graphs crammed into a single fucking slide - will have me checking my eyelids for pinholes faster than you can say “NyQuil Nightcap.” And after lunch? Fuhgeddaboudit.

It gets downright embarrassing if I start to snore...because I can snore loudly enough to knock picture frames down from the wall. It’s hard to fly under the radar when your mouth drops open and you start sounding like a fully-loaded Boeing 747 at takeoff. The little dribble of sleep-spittle is an added bonus.

One time, during High Holiday services - a time when Lengthy Pulpit Orations abound - I fell asleep so soundly that, had it not been for SWMBO’s lightning-fast reflexes, I would have suffered a Minor Public Humiliation. She reached out and grabbed me just in time to keep me from toppling right out of the pew into the aisle. [At least it wasn’t our rabbi doing the talking.]

On Yom Kippur, when I lead the Musaf service, I have to exert a special effort to keep from being “Clintonized” as I sit on the bimah during the rabbi’s Yizkor sermon. It’s typically a long one: the Rabbinic Money Shot as it were, the Big Deal toward which everything in the previous year has been building, the Tearjerker of Tearjerkers. And as absorbing and emotionally engaging as it may be, I have to fight to keep my eyes open. It just wouldn’t do to fall asleep in front of two thousand people...even if it does not involve toppling over.

[At least I don’t have to worry about being caught napping on the bimah on Yom Kippur and having a video slapped up on YouTube. No photography on Yomim Tovim.]

So have a little rachmones for Bill Clinton. It could happen to you!

Sleeping Beauty
Mr. Debonair takes an impromptu snooze while out shopping.

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