We spent the summers of 2006 and 2007 in Amman, Jordan (read all about it on My Adventures in Jordan, here). The first summer, Jeremy was the assistant director (read: glorified babysitter) of Brigham Young University's Arabic study abroad program, held at Jordan University. In 2007, he was the director, all by himself. That meant that he spent a lot of time on campus at JU:
(though not necessarily watching random military bands practice),
attending Iran-Iraq soccer games with students:
and other such intense responsibilities. He didn't spend nearly enough time hanging out with Miriam and the neighbor kids:
or sightseeing downtown:
or puzzling over bizarrely shaped eggplants at Carrefour:
or chilling with Miriam on a street corner in Jebel Webdeh, drinking Coke:
Really, though, he was very busy. Being in charge of a few dozen college-age human beings is not the most predictable job even in the best of circumstances. When it's in a foreign country and the students are doing their best to dive into the culture and experience it to the fullest, lots of things can happen. Fortunately, nothing too major did. He had to take a student to the hospital in the middle of the night for a bad case of food poisoning, and deal with the aftermath of a groping incident that took place on campus, but otherwise, it was the day-to-day details that kept him working hard and invariably exhausted by the end of the day.
There is such a thing as being too tired to sleep, so one night Jeremy decided to take a sleeping pill to help things along. I think it was an Ambien pill that had been left behind by someone who had come from the US to visit us and used it to combat jet lag. In any case, it wasn't your average Tylenol PM or whatever.
Jeremy had never taken a strong sleeping pill before, but he assumed it would work like its weaker, Tylenol-manufactured cousins. So he took the pill about half an hour before he was actually planning to go to bed. I remember him walking down the hall to the kitchen swallow it with a drink of water.
It couldn't have been more than three minutes later when he came staggering back down the hall, unsteady on his feet and mumbling about going to bed. I honestly thought he was just exaggerating - Jeremy is such a joker that sometimes it's hard to tell when he's really being serious. The sleeping pill couldn't possibly have worked so strongly and so quickly...right?
I decided to play along with his little act and so I followed him into the bedroom. He had managed to make it to the bed, but only barely. One arm and one leg were still hanging off the edge. Just to humor him in his ridiculous little act, I pushed him all the way onto the bed and then took off his glasses, which he had not removed before collapsing onto the pillow.
If this was a joke - and I thought it was - Jeremy was doing a great job of hamming it up. He was entirely dead weight as I tried to arrange the covers over him, and he didn't respond to me even though I was laughing at his little prank. Then he kicked it up another notch, and started to mumble in a very sleepy voice.
"These are my friends," he said, gesturing sloppily at the pillows on the bed. "They're aaaaaall my friends." He said a few more unintelligible things, and then: "At night, the black swan lady comes and visits the friends."
At that point, I was more scared than amused, but I really did think he was still joking. I laughed nervously and said something like, "OK, Jeremy, very funny. I get it. Can you stop kidding around now?" He didn't respond. He was already asleep.
The next morning, I told Jeremy he did a good job of freaking me right the heck out the night before, and would he please not do that again? Especially the part about the black swan lady.
He had no idea what I was talking about. The last thing he remembered was walking out of the kitchen and down the hall after taking the sleeping pill.
I'm really glad I wrote it all off at the time as just Jeremy goofing around, because if I had known he was seriously that impaired by taking a sleeping pill, I probably would have called a doctor, or at the very least, locked him in the room and slept somewhere else.
Because the black swan lady who visits her pillow friends sounds like one acquaintance I can afford not to make.