In the Night Kitchen

This binge brought to you by Ambien

Are you cackling at today's stories about the middle-of-the-night adventures being reported by Ambien users? According to the Washington Post, Minnesota researchers have compiled numerous reports of people eating, talking, walking, and wreaking havoc while asleep. Other stories tell of people waking up surrounded by empty Doritos bags and half-eaten loaves of bread. The New York Times story on the study described a woman who gained 100 pounds before she was willing to consider her family's bizarre claims about her nighttime eating.

Morbidly funny though those stories are, they don't hold a candle to my favorite Ambien story of the week, penned for Salon by a woman whose shitheel of a boyfriend turned into Mr. Wonderful at the drop of a pill. The writer is so smitten with the Ambien version of her paramour that she holds out for some time, hoping that the real him turns out to be the alter-ego.

Sure, he was a critical jackass by the light of day, but by the warm glow of a small yellow pill and a single malt scotch, he was a gallant suitor, a crooner of sweet nothings, my accessible, chatty fiancé-to-be. He would call every weeknight around 11 p.m. and it was just like it was in the heady beginning of our romance. He would embarrass me with compliments. Tell me that he knew we would spend our lives together. Beg me to be patient with his daytime behavior.

And by then, his behavior begged forgiving. About six months into the relationship we spent a winter weekend at his uncle's house in Connecticut, where he virtually ignored me until the blessed hour when he could slip himself a Mickey. Then he would sidle into bed, cuddle and -- the ultimate aphrodisiac -- talk. We would talk and talk and talk -- about how much he hated the Degas ballerina series, about our similarly disorienting childhoods, about the infinite, exciting future in front of us. And then we would have the sweetest, nuzzliest sex. (Ambien muted his passion, transforming lovemaking into consummated cuddling. Ultimately, I preferred the rough sexual arrogance of his unmedicated state, but it was worth the sacrifice for these rare tender moments.) We were like pandas in heat.

Until the next day, when he would suggest I wear lower heels and we would have angry, argument-fueled sex.

(An aside: How many of you out there are having argument-fueled sex, and is it superior? I thought that was straight out of Hollywood's big book of clichés.)

While you've got that Salon daypass, check out the awesome essay there by Minneapolis novelist Ann Bauer, writing this time about getting a tattoo with a man she'd only recently met. Sounds too gimmicky for words, I know, but it's a terrific piece of writing about writing and other imponderables and it knocked me on my ass.

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