It was a chance to impress my potential in-laws. Would I blow it?
February 1, 2006
Just days after graduating from college, I drove with my girlfriend from Rhode Island to Piseco Lake, a quiet haven in the Adirondack mountains of New York, to stay with her family at their longtime vacation hermitage.
The author and his wife.
Photo by mother-in-law Carolyn Fulks
The family “camp” is a cabin nestled in a grove of hardwoods on the shore of the lake. As we arrived in the failing light of the late-spring evening, I was too anxious to notice the cabin’s quaint charm and its beautiful surroundings.
All I could see were the thin walls and the crowded sleeping arrangements.
Of course, I had been warned that privacy was going to be at a minimum, but I didn’t know I had signed up for a weekend with the Waltons. No noise louder than the creeping of a spider would go unnoticed – and I snore as if I were calling Thor down from Valhalla.
This was going to be a problem.
The family had been coming to camp for seven decades, and the first visit was something of a rite of passage for new boyfriends. I couldn’t spend my initiation weekend destroying the otherwise blissful sleep of my beloved’s family!
Throughout the evening, I tried to formulate a plan with no success. I was feeling frantic as I brushed my teeth, climbed the stairs and crawled into the creaky top bunk in the loft. Burning with anticipated mortification, I decided I would wait for everyone else to go to sleep before I let myself drift off.
That was much more easily said than done, because I was exhausted. But as an experienced snorer, I knew I could at least sleep on my stomach to limit the volume of my growls and snorts. I just had to find a way to prevent myself from rolling onto my back during the night.
I turned over onto my stomach, producing, despite my best efforts, a series of loud creaks from the springs of my bunk (a noise which must have been infinitely more horrifying to my hosts than my snoring ever could be). The creaks continued as I flopped around in a soup of Strawberry Shortcake sheets and Star Wars pillowcases, attempting to surround myself with pillows and blankets.
Of course, being on my stomach, I had no way to determine the quality of my work. All I could do was have faith in my abilities to stay on my stomach and try to fall asleep with my face smothered in a pillow.
Within seconds, I began gagging on the dust that the seemingly pristine pillowcase concealed, and was forced to turn my face to one side. My throat scratching ominously and eyes tearing in the first signs of what I knew would be a massive dust-allergy reaction, I resigned myself to my fate and went to sleep.
I woke up the next morning lying on my back. Voices drifted up from the porch. Drawn by the smell of fresh coffee, I gingerly crawled out of my nest and made my way downstairs to join the family.
Everyone graciously bid me good morning and asked how I had slept. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary. Could my plan have worked? Was it possible I had been too tired to snore? Hope lived up to its reputation and sprang eternal.
I sat down in one of the cozy rocking chairs on the porch and started to sip my coffee.
As I relaxed into what has become one of my favorite summer pastimes – watching the lake come to life in the morning – my potential mother-in-law leaned forward and asked in a deliberately casual voice, “Have you ever tried sleeping on your stomach, Rick?”
It all worked out for Richard Coduri. He married the girl and continues to enjoy summer weekends at the family camp.