By The Big Guy
I’m a night person. Always have been. I’m pretty sure this is due in part to the fact that my parents were still making me go to bed at 7pm when I was eight years old. Why? Maybe my pediatrician told then that growing children need twelve hours of sleep a night. Maybe my parents liked to go to bed at 8pm. Maybe they just didn’t like me. I have no idea. Imagine if you will lying in bed in the middle of summer two hours before sunset trying to fall asleep. The windows are wide open and you can hear all the kids with normal pediatricians still outside playing tag. Oh, and it’s hot and there’s an electric fan doing its best to lower the temperature of the bedroom from 92 all the way down to 90. Good times. Good times.
I think that my late night habit grew out of always worrying about what I might be missing. It always seemed that even when my parents finally pushed back bed time I always had friends that got to stay up later than I did. They were getting to see that last hour of prime time television or even, holy cow, Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show. Obviously you realize this was back before you could watch whatever you wanted whenever you wanted, although I’m willing to bet it’s not nearly as much fun watching Jimmy Fallon at 4 in the afternoon.
For me, all this added up to the belief that sleeping was a waste of time. Who needed to sleep? Stupid pediatricians ruined my childhood and I decided to prove them wrong. One Friday night, age twelve, I decided to just skip sleeping. After my parents were in bed and out cold I sneaked myself into the living room, turned on the TV and watched it until there was nothing left to watch. Yes, also back there in the dark ages television stopped late at night and did not start again until the following morning. Hard to believe, huh? The last show ended, they played the national anthem while you watched a film of the American flag waving in the wind and then…nothing. At that point I turned on the radio and listened to the all night disc jockey make jokes and read car dealer commercials between playing the hits. Eventually the sky began to lighten. I had made it until morning. Still alive and doing fine, except for the incredible buzzing in my head. I was probably just in desperate need of sleep, but I had met the challenge and I never needed to do it again.
The best part of eventually (allegedly) growing up was that no one could tell me when to go to sleep except me, although having to hold down a full time job which, on more occasions than I would like, had to begin at 5 in the morning certainly got in the way of my perfect day. Now that gainful employment is a part of my past I seem to have settled into a rather comfortable 10am to 2am period of consciousness. Unfortunately the overnight rest period is filled with a series of wake up calls some of which find me filling the time sending emails on my iPhone. People frequently remark to me when they see the time stamp. The standard answer is always “we never close.” And I’ve always figured that anyone who can actually sleep through the night by time they’re in their late sixties is probably an alcoholic. Warren Zevon said, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” and at this point that seems a very reasonable time to catch up.