My Worst Sleepless Night

Lonely Planet has documented some of the world’s worst sleepless nights. Mine is nowhere near the caliber of those, but it’s all I’ve got.

I, twenty-one years old, stumbled back to the Clown and Bard hostel in Prague in the wee hours of the morning, having enjoyed yet another night of learning to love pivo. I was staying in the cheapest ($7 a night) bed they had–one of about thirty-five singles and bunks crammed into the attic (seventh floor walk-up–this after having to climb a San-Francisco-steep hill to get to the hostel in the first place), every one of them inhabited by a broke, stinky backpacker much like myself. Exhausted, I crawled into my little sleep-sheet and drifted off.

Moments later, someone else came in, waking me up, and fell into a bed a few down from mine. It was the extra-skinny, extra-pasty, barely-eighteen-year-old Irish kid who showed up the night before. He crashed into bed, moaning. Then he bolted up to the bathroom and puked for a while. Finally, he lurched his way back to bed and fell into a fitfull sort of sleep. I chose to ignore this, roll over, and try to go back to sleep, except that not a minute later, one of our dormmates, American and, by my guess, of Irish descent, stormed into the room.

“Charlie! What the hell are you doing?” He began thrashing the half-unconscious kid, whom he couldn’t have met more than twenty-four hours before, trying to pull him up out of bed, abusing him in terms I refuse to transcribe from the journal I kept at the time because I’d like to think of this as a family blog. In response to this treatment, Charlie started puking again. This didn’t make the American back away, though. (Nothing ever does.) It only made things worse. He challenged Charlie’s manhood and Irish blood in between physical assaults.

Throughout all of this, I lay totally still with my eyes closed. I’m not proud of this, and I probably wouldn’t do the same now, but I just didn’t want to get involved with an angry, drunken confrontation. Not that this excuses it, but there were probably a dozen other people in that room doing the same thing.

Finally, the American went back down to the bar, leaving Charlie alone to fall asleep in, presumably, his own filth. With the room quiet once again, I fell asleep myself.

It couldn’t have been too much later that I awoke to more moaning. I thought Charlie was having another bad episode, but upon rolling over and peering through barely open eyelids, I saw that it was actually the two female Korean students who had the beds next to mine having sex. I rolled back over the other way, unable to go back to sleep for fear of the next thing that might wake me up, and promised myself that in the next city I was springing for a private room.

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