I am a sacrament meeting narcoleptic. Let me be clear: I am not speaking of the bobble-head variety, which betrays some sense of propriety in the tacit acknowledgement that one should at least attempt to retain consciousness (you know, “avoiding the appearance”…), nor is it the podium strain, which is a very light sleep that can be easily remedied by a list of buzzwords such as “Zelph,” “Paul H. Dunn,” or any story involving three mysteriously helpful strangers and a surreptitious allusion to food storage.
I cannot relate to either. I simply come to my senses having lost twenty minutes of my life with no recollection of even feeling sleepy in the first place. I miss friends’ and relatives’ talks, I fast through the sacrament, and I have even been known to “give up the ghost” while actively singing a hymn (forgive the expression, but I could not come up with another that so adequately conveys the suddenness of the process). I never remember fighting it. To me, it’s more like time travel than anything else.

The meeting’s comparative spirituality, degree of interest, or entertainment value do not appear to be factors. More temporal concerns such as the temperature of the chapel, the previous night’s amount of sleep, or the current contents of my stomach (or lack thereof) are likewise unrelated. Furthermore, I am not noticeably affected in any other setting.

I suspect a simple Pavlovian phenomenon. In my undergraduate days I routinely whooped it up too much on Saturday nights (Saturday is a special day) and ended up paying for it in church the following morning. However, even though I’ve long since kicked the Saturday habit, I still have Sunday flashbacks (kids, just say no). I can walk into a sacrament meeting at any time of day, well rested and enthusiastic about finding hidden spiritual treasures in even “Starfish,” “Footprints,” or “I Found My Friend,” and yet the moment the meeting begins the nap equivalent of my salivary gland never fails to function as conditioned.

I am not proud of this ailment (it annoys my wife particularly), but I have tried everything — I doubt that even a special coffee dispensation would help me. I know that I cannot blame Pavlov for my simplicity of mind, but I have to project my rage somewhere (and DKL already has enough rage emitted in his general direction). I worry that my problem is going to keep me from the first resurrection, not because it makes me unworthy, but because I’ll surely sleep through it.