“Just resting my eyes”

Informant :

So actually, “just resting my eyes”  when I’m taking a little nap, I actually got that from, do you remember, your great-uncle, Dennis?

Well his wife, Rita, she used to work at the hospital. And they have late shifts, sometimes. She was working 3:00 to 11:00 at night. So at night she would call him and say “Now Dennis, I’m driving home.”

In case… she had car trouble or just to have someone know where you are. And every time or almost every time, he’d be asleep when she got home.

So she woke him up and said, “You’re supposed to be listening for me!”

And Uncle Dennis said, “I heard you come in the drive. I was just resting my eyes.”


Papa, my grandfather, the informant, told me the story behind this family expression, over the phone after I explained to him and my grandma what I was looking for, in terms of folklore. I saw both of them over Easter. Papa takes at least one nap a day and if someone accidentally wakes him up he often says “I was just resting my eyes” to make them feel better or because he knows we think it is funny. The informant told me this one on one on the phone.



It has become a family proverb, but started, ironically enough, as a well-worded excuse for negligence.



Informant 2, age 22, accountant

Another family expression that Papa always says and now I’ve heard the cousins say is “I’m just resting my eyes.” when they’re actually asleep. But I don’t know when that started.