I often like to joke that if there was a sleeping event in the Olympics, I would take home the gold for America. (My friends with sleep apnea and insomnia almost never laugh at this. Go figure.) I’m one of those lucky folks who can easily get their eight or nine hours and wake up feeling refreshed despite having a number of vivid and bizarre dreams throughout the night. I fight crime, I fly, I get my freak on with decidedly odd individuals. (Peter Lorre? Been there, tapped that.) Like most people, I wake up with a smile on my face after one of the erotic ones. However, I have this other kind of dream that brings me even greater pleasure.
In the wee small hours, I restore and remodel historic homes across the country. These plaster-and-wood nocturnal activities begin the moment my dream self walks into a house and finds it…lacking. It even happens with the haunted ones in my nightmares. Suddenly, like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, new walls, floors, cabinets, fixtures, molding and windows appear to complete a room or an entire building.
All action ceases while I change these things over and over again until everything is precisely the way I want it. Just last night, for example, my brain took a run-down antebellum mansion in New Orleans, added decorative tiles in the bathrooms and granite counter tops in the kitchen, replaced the roof on the breezeway, and installed a beautiful claw-foot tub in the master bath. A little paint went a long way towards freshening things up; the living room was a nice butter yellow, the parlor a warm peach.
The marble fireplace mantels in all the rooms were thoroughly cleaned. The cypress floors were sanded and polished to a shine. When I woke up, I felt satisfied in an almost sexual way. And it’s not just properties eligible for nomination to the National Register of Historic Places. No, during a gunfight with several kidnappers in a 1970s split level last month, I took some time out to replace the worn shag carpeting. That avocado green was really distracting; I couldn’t shoot straight because of my mounting frustration with its hideous condition. I went with a patterned Berber, killed the ringleader and ultimately saved the day.
When I go to bed, I don’t wonder if I’ll be undressing George Clooney tonight. Nope, I’m concerned about other things. Like whether or not glass-front cabinets, despite being historically accurate, are worth the smudges and mess. In case you’re wondering, I haven’t done any work in other countries yet. I’m really looking forward to my first European commission. Hopefully it will be a palace in Spain, because I want to learn how to work Moorish architecture into everyday life.