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The line is Bill Murray as Venkman in Ghostbusters:

I find her interesting because she's a client and because she sleeps above her covers. Four feet above her covers!

I was thirteen or so when I saw the movie...I assumed that "sleeping above her covers" meant something dirty, or otherwise adult, and that I'd learn what it meant eventually. I didn't.

Any thoughts?

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    I love that the first thing that turns up in a Google search for "Sleep above covers" is the admonition that Good boys always sleep with their hands above the covers... presumably because it's proof that they're not fooling around with themselves. – Catija Feb 11 '15 at 18:53
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    Venkman says this as a response to Ray calling Dana his "girlfriend". - Ray: "Your girlfriend lives in the corner penthouse of Spook Central." Venkman: "She's not my girlfriend. I find her interesting because she's a client and because she sleeps above her covers, four feet above her covers. She barks, she drools, she claws!" - I always understood the joke as Venkman naming (ridiculous) non-sexual reasons why he is interested in her. – Oliver_C Feb 11 '15 at 18:58
  • I think than in movie Bill Murray saw Sigourney levitating above her bed. But I think it was only three feet. – Anderson Feb 11 '15 at 18:58
  • I'm not really sure what the question is here? – DForck42 Feb 12 '15 at 22:09
  • Well, a joke has a premise and a counter-premise that subverts it. If the joke had been "I find her interesting because she's an independent woman...independent of her arms and limbs!!!" it would be clear. In the joke, "sleeping above her covers" has to have an independent meaning that the "four feet above her covers!" serves to subvert. My question is "what is that independent meaning?" – Chris B. Behrens Feb 13 '15 at 14:48
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Dana was levitating above the bed, Exorcist-style, in an earlier scene. That's how I always interpreted the joke.

Setup: "She sleeps above her covers." That seems like a curiously uninteresting reason to like someone.

Punchline: "FOUR FEET above her covers!" The lady can levitate over her bed! Now THAT'S fascinating!!

  • I think we all understand the joke... the question is, What is (or is there) a meaning behind the phrase "someone who sleeps above the covers"?. – Catija Feb 11 '15 at 20:15
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    Oh. Got it. I never took it to mean anything in particular. I just thought it was a setup for the joke. – BrettFromLA Feb 11 '15 at 20:17
  • Yeah, same here. :) – Catija Feb 11 '15 at 20:19
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    I'm with you on this one Brett ... setup and punchline. No need to read more into it. Remember, this is a comedy movie ... it needs to be funny. – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Feb 11 '15 at 21:30
  • But the setup has to mean something that can stand alone from the punchline. I'm starting to wonder maybe if this had a meaning in the Chicago area and the writers didn't realize that it was regional... – Chris B. Behrens Feb 13 '15 at 14:50
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There is a concept that if you sleep under the covers, you are more insecure and need the covers to not only keep you warm but keep you safe. Like when you're a child and your parents "tuck you into bed". There's that feeling of security, like being wrapped up safe and warm in the womb.

However, if you sleep above the covers, it's an indication that you don't need the security, because you're "self-secure". You have no insecurities, you're more outgoing and open to adventure.

So, there's that bit of "sexual freedom" that can be culled from the knowledge that someone sleeps above the covers, coupled with the fact that she does literally levitate above the bed.

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    If you sleep above the covers, you don't have to make the bed in the morning. – tcrosley Feb 12 '15 at 1:09
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"She sleeps above the covers", in the normal world, means that she sleeps on top of the blankets/sheets - not hiding under the covers. This is the ambiguity that is exploited to make it a joke.

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