a man with narcolepsy falling asleep in his soup

Diving in Your Soup

Picture this: Sicily 1956...Oh, wait. That’s a Golden Girls story. Presuming you all know the TV show The Golden Girls?

Anyway, let’s try to picture this instead: Cannes in France where it was 1998, I think? Just like the film festival, they have a multimedia festival there. It's a huge fair by the Mediterranean Sea, in front of the harbor, with a lovely walking promenade with palm trees and along the yachts of the rich and famous. A perfect picture.

Powering through the week

My narcolepsy was recently diagnosed but it couldn’t stop me from doing things I probably should not have. Working 4 days on that fair representing a Dutch artist with some computer children games we made shouldn’t be that hard, right?

I loved every minute of it but it wore me out totally. I skipped most of the after parties since I needed to sleep. Maybe “needed” in capitals?

Somehow I made it through the week, with a little nap at lunchtime or leaving our booth for a small walk. Up to a certain level, I’m able to fight my sleep attacks. It's not easy but it's doable. I was happy when it was Friday morning. Knowing it was our last day, I already felt I was going to sleep the whole weekend before driving back to Holland.

A fancy dinner invitation

Halfway through that morning, a message arrived that the Bobos of the big record company were flying over and invited us for a dinner in a fancy restaurant. Needless to say, I was excited! Up to that point I felt cataplexy right there under the surface. But luckily it stayed there.

So far, so good. It was a long day, after all, with happy hour at 15:00 where we needed to socialize. No rest at all so I was glad when the time came to go to the restaurant. As we arrived and met the director and his staff, I was so happy to go sit on that chair.

Then came the sleep attacks

But the battle began. One sleep attack after the other, the moment I could finally relax. Worst of all, you needed to wait for your food until it was served and that took quite a long time. By the time we had a plate of soup on the table, I was already far gone and ended up with my head diving in the soup!

Now, my colleague knew what was going on and lifted my head by my hair, and quite hilariously dropped it next to the plate while explaining to the table not to worry. I was aware of what was happening but the embarrassment made it continue into cataplexy, so no response from me.

The waitress was running around in a panic, yelling for an ambulance! Oh my God! I felt so awkward! At a highlight of my career, I’m swimming in the soup!

Now, 22 years later, I can laugh about it and it makes a great story at birthday parties. With the best part of all, it is a true story!

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