Simon leaned over the bunk bed. “Sometimes when I'm trying to sleep, my legs feel all twingey, like I want to shake them. Do you legs ever do that, Matthew?”
“Um, no.” I said, from under my covers. I was hiding there in case there were spiders roaming around the bedroom.
Simon climbed out of bed. “I'm going to go ask Mom.”
I slipped out of bed and followed Simon to the top of the stairs. If Mom or Dad asked, I could tell them that I was just making sure Simon could make the trip on his weak legs.
Simon went downstairs, and I crouched down so I could hear the conversation.
“Mom,” Simon said, “my legs feel strange. Whenever I lay down they feel all twingy. And I want to shake them.”
I wondered if Simon was exaggerating. We often came up with bizarre reasons to get out of bed, but somehow it sounded real to me.
“I’m sorry, son,” Mom said, “try resting some more.”
“But that’s what makes them feel weird!” Simon protested. “Every time I lie down!”
Dad was watching the TV, but at this comment he looked over. “Sounds like restless leg to me.”
“He’s too young to have restless legs, dear,” Mom said.
“He might be having a growing spurt or something,” Dad said. “You know what my mom used to swear by?” Dad asked, and then waited for somebody to ask him. Mom and Simon just looked at him.
“She used to say, and I know this is going to sound weird,” Dad said, “She used to say that if you put a bar of soap between your sheets, then it will fix your legs.
“WHAT!” Simon said, and it seemed he was a bit too surprised.
“You’re making that up,” Mom said, smiling. It was nice to see Mom poking fun at Dad.
“I am not,” Dad said seriously, “She used to have the same problem when she was pregnant, and a bar of soap did the trick every time.
“I am not putting a bar of soap between…” Simon began
But Mom’s patience had about run out. “Simon, if your legs are really bothering you, try the soap thing, otherwise, you’re just going to have to live with it.”
Simon stood there for a moment, and then started back upstairs.
“We have soap in the bathroom,” Dad called after Simon, “I promise, it really works.”
Simon came up the stairs.
“Can you believe that?” Simon asked me as we made our way back to bed. “Whoever heard of something that crazy?”
“It doesn’t sound that crazy to me.” I said. Putting soap between the sheets didn’t make sense, but it didn’t exactly sound crazy.
“What?” Simon asked, “Do you mean you would you do it if your legs hurt?”
I shrugged as I got back in bed. “Sure,” I said. “It’s not that big of a deal – especially if your legs are really hurting.”
Simon stood there for a while. After much deliberation, he went to get a bar of soap. When he got back, he climbed back into bed and lay still for a while.
“So, do you think I’m supposed to take it out of the wrapper?” he asked down from the top bunk.
“Hmmm,” I said. “I’d try it first with the wrapper on, and then if that doesn’t work, you can take the wrapper off.”
There was some shuffling on the top bunk, and then Simon called down, “The wrapper pokes.”
I couldn’t figure out why he felt I wanted a play-by-play of his soap experiment. “Then take it off,” I said.
There were some unwrapping noises, and then pieces of soap wrapper fluttered off the side of the bed and landed gently on the floor.
“That’s not any better,” Simon said after a minute. “Now I’m all itchy.”
I couldn’t figure out why Simon’s legs would itch, just because he had a bar of soap between the sheets. We used soap in the tub, it’s not like it should irritate his skin.
“Try moving your legs away from the soap.” I suggested.
“They’re not next to the soap,” Simon said. But I heard him shuffling his legs.
“That just makes it worse!” he said, finally. “It’s getting sweaty down there.”
“Let me take a look.” I suggested, and started to get out of bed.
“NO!” Simon shouted, and there was some shuffling coming from the top of the bunk.
“What is wrong with you?” I asked, completely confused.
I stood on the edge of my bed, and looked at Simon He had the covers pulled up to his chin and he looked embarrassed.
“What exactly did you think Dad told you to do?” I asked.
“What do you mean?” Simon asked.
“I mean you do realize that he told you to put a bar of soap between your sheets, right?” I asked.
Simon’s eyes bugged out.
“Wait a minute…” I said, and then suddenly I realized what had happened. I burst out laughing. “You mean you thought…” I couldn’t finish the sentence because I was laughing so hard. I fell to my bed.
“Be quiet, Matthew.” I heard Simon say from up top. There were more sounds of adjusting, but I couldn’t stop laughing.
Simon jumped out of bed, the soap held in his right hand between a single finger and his thumb.
“Make sure and throw that away!” I hissed after him, still laughing.
When he came back, I could finally finish my sentence “You thought she said ‘cheeks’, didn’t you?”
“Be quiet, Matthew,” was all Simon would say.