While relaxing just now, it occurred to me that I scrunch my face sometimes while sleeping. This led me to imagine what someone would think if they saw me sleeping with a scrunched up face. (vain, yes?) Would it look angry, afraid, worried, or maybe helpless?
Suddenly I recalled part of a story I read once. It went that two potential lovers would first meet nightly for 6 days, each taking turns sleeping while the other watched. They were watching for their lover's "true face" to be revealed, which supposedly happens while deeply sleeping. If they didn't like the "true face" they saw, they could leave immediately and the relationship/marriage was off. If, after the nights were up, they didn't see their lover's "true face," they could also leave.
Does anybody know what story is this from? Is this maybe some culture's actual marriage ritual that I heard somewhere? Am I, in fact, a total dork?
I am, in fact, a total dork.
Its from one of my favorite shows, of course: Babylon 5. I got a few of the details wrong. Delenn herself explains it better:
Delenn (to Sheridan): You see, when Minbari become close as we have become close...it is tradition that they spend three nights together. The male sleeps and the female watches.
Sheridan: Watches what?
Delenn: During the day, we all put on the face we think will do us the most good. But at a certain point in your sleep,as you relax, your true face is revealed. If the female approves of his true face, she will stay two more nights and continue to observe.
Sheridan: What if she doesn't like what she sees?
Delenn: Then they go their separate ways. If he insists she stay one more night, she can leave when he falls asleep, file a complaint with the Elders,even cut off his....His access to her family.
Sheridan: What if she does like what she sees?
Delenn: Later. History awaits.
Delenn (voice): Yes?
John: It's me. I heard you wanted to see me. I was just on my way to --- Delenn? [as he fails to see her]
The bedroom door slides open and Delenn strikes a vamp pose against the frame. She's wearing the little black dress again --- the occasion calls for a seductive air. John looks unsure of himself as she steps forward with a little smile.
Delenn: Where did you say you were going?
John: I was --- I was just going to --- nowhere that can't wait for a little while. [Pause.] Is there some occasion I should know about?
Delenn: No. I just thought when I finish getting ready, you could join me for dinner. We haven't gone out for dinner in a very long time. It, uh --- also occurred to me --- as I told you, it is tradition for Minbari to spend three nights together. The female...
John: ...watches, and the male sleeps until his true face is revealed, I know. [Steps closer.] Whatever you see in a face mashed against a pillow and drooling, I don't know, but I try not to be judgmental about alien cultures --- when they are dressed like that! [Delenn's laugh and smile light up the room.] But what does this have to do with, um...
Delenn: Our first night together was on the White Star. Our second, in your quarters before you left for Z'ha'dum. If we're going to be complete, you owe me a third night.
John [thinking]: Tonight? [She nods.] That's --- that's going to be a bad time. I've got late meetings.
Delenn [smiling]: I can wait.
John: Something is up, isn't it?
She can't avoid it. She'd been hoping to leave this part for later, but it has to come out now. She steps away, turning so that her face won't betray her emotions.
Delenn: I'm going back to Minbar --- tomorrow. I may be there for some time.
John: I --- Anything serious? If I can help, I...
Delenn: No, no. Just some old business I must attend to. But it may, uh, take me away from here for some time. [Her hands clutch over her heart --- out of John's view.] It matters to me a great deal that we finish this, John.
John [steps up behind her, gently touching her arms]: All right. I'll, um --- be here at seven for dinner. [He catches the look on her face, and his own face echoes the worry.] I'll, uh, see you then.