Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Forty Winks.

When you’re a baby, it’s pretty simple. You don’t have much control over it. You’re constantly being bundled up and then placed in warm and cozy spots much of the time, so it’s natural that you would sleep a lot. You can’t walk around, talk, do much at all really, except poop, laugh and scream. So why not sleep most of the day away? But as you become able to do more, you tend to want to sleep less and less. In your early childhood, however, you’re forced into napping, daily. It's called naptime, and most of the time, it's boring and it sucks. You don’t really want to sleep, because being awake is much more interesting. You’re learning new things every second. That’s why you see kids passed out in awkward and uncomfortable looking positions all the time, even sometimes with a toy still in their hand. They just had to keep going until they absolutely couldn’t go anymore.

“Must… continue… playing… errrgh…zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz


Even though, for the most part, the daily forced naps come to an end in your mid-childhood, forcing you to go to bed eventually becomes a form of punishment. I remember being sent to bed once when it was still sunny outside. How can I sleep when it’s so bright out? I want to play! Man, that sucked, but I’m sure I did something awful to deserve it. One of the main goals in your life as a child is to not have to go to bed, ever. Ultimately, every night is a challenge to try and stay up late, past your bedtime. You’re really not sure what goes on after you’ve gone to bed, but you assume that it must be really great. Probably it involves candy and all sorts of unsupervised mayhem. After all, your parents make it sound so edgy and dangerous, like things might start exploding at any moment. You’ll even try distracting them some nights, thinking that, maybe if they don’t see a clock, they’ll never know. But somehow, they always do. And then they make it sound like what you’re doing is upsetting the very balance of nature.

“What are you doing up! It’s past your bedtime! GO TO BED!”

Your bedtime is really one of the most important cool factors that you’ve got as a child to set you apart from the pack. It’s one of the key ingredients that can make you cooler than the other kids, whether or not you get to stay up later than them. Even the kid with the absolute coolest toys is a loser next to the kid that can stay up well past the ‘Cosby Show’.

“And then the white haired man came out and addressed the court. His name was Matlock, and only the chosen children could remain awake to see him appear at night.”

And so you’re constantly haggling with your parents over your bedtime. You go to school and conduct surveys and polls and bring the results back home to use as leverage.

“Well, Mother and Father, I have polled most of the students in my grade, and the results, I’m afraid, are quite shocking. Both Timothy Carcoozle and Finnegan Gentilly have stated that they have nine p.m. bedtimes, which puts my eight thirty p.m. well below the average. I mean, if you want to remain well below the average level of awesomeness amongst the parents in our general scholastic region, then, I guess we can just keep things the way that they are.”

Most likely you falsified some (or all) of your research and are nearly completely bluffing (in reality, ol’ Carcoozle goes to bed at eight p.m.). Your parents will call you on this bluff and threaten to call the Carcoozles to check Timothy’s bedtime. After some careful and long negotiations, your parents realize that it’s already 7:32 p.m., and thus past your bedtime, and yell at you to go to bed. So you go to bed that night, two minutes later than usual, victorious. Just wait until they hear about this tomorrow.

At some point, someone in the school yard becomes everyone’s hero, by claiming to have stayed up all night, one night so long ago. You’ve never heard of such a thing before. Staying up? All night? It sounds unbelievable! Suddenly you understand why you are alive. And that’s the ultimate achievement in childhood, really, to stay up so long that when the morning comes, you don’t have to get up, because you’re already up. You never went down. You’re still up. Constant up. And so you organize a sleepover with a friend, during which you plan to stay up all night. And truthfully, as that magical night progresses, it is likely you both slept through a whole chunk of it, but you both lie to yourselves and everyone else and say that you stayed up all night anyways. For weeks afterwards, you will tell stories about eating candy so late that it tasted even better and pretend to have understood what the hell was so funny about what Johnny Carson was saying. You’ve never felt so alive. You didn’t really do anything at all, but just staying up was good enough. Life was up, a natural high. Being up was better than being down. Being awake trumped being asleep every time.

So where did that magic go? Now everyone seems to have a different opinion about sleep. They want to sleep, or even worse, sometimes, they want to nap. People want to have not just one, but two bedtimes? You used to want zero bedtimes! Daytime sleep used to be a punishment. When did it become a reward? What a crock of poo. Much too often I hear people saying that they need a nap. Sometimes, they could really use a nap. How do you use a nap? One thing is certain, in order to use it and fulfill your need, first you have to take a nap. Doesn’t that just sound wrong? Taking a nap sounds like you’re breaking some kind of law, like you’re some kind of sleep thief. It’s as if somewhere there is a sleep guardian trying to protect his big reserve of naps that he normally would only keep for infants and cats. Because, you see, as children, naps are given to you.

“You’re a real grouchy wouchy boy, you need to have a nap. Here, have one. Now.”
“Where’s the baby?”
“He’s having a nap.”

But now, as a grown up, you have to sneak by and try and take one!

“Shhh! Keep it down will ya’? I’m trying to take a nap!”
“Oh, I didn’t realize, good luck. It’s usually easier to take one on the sofa.”
“That’s where I’m going, Bob Ross is on.”

For some people, a nap isn’t even good enough. Some people like to take it to the extreme. Some people require a POWERNAP. I guess this is a way for a lazy person to take a nap, without feeling like a lazy person. Sounds like you’re getting something done, doesn’t it? But, have you ever seen someone at their desk at work taking a powernap? They don’t look like they’re getting things done. They look like they just dropped dead on their desk. And how about how cruddy someone looks after a powernap? They certainly don’t look powerful. They look like they had the shit kicked out of them. Big crease on their face, hair messed up, breath smelling like ass, bags under the eyes which in turn are full of eye crusties, little bit of dried up drool on the cheek, and usually they look sort of confused… oh yeah, right, they’re just rarin’ to go, full power, blast off. What a bag of shit.

“You look tired, are you sure you’re ok?”
“Well, to be honest, I haven’t had a real night of sleep in a few days, but don’t worry, I just took a !!!!POWERNAP!!!!”

And then.

“Oh, in that case, doctor Pooterwhap, here’s your scalpel, let’s cut this bastard open.” or
“Oh, in that case, captain Zingfarb, let’s get this plane off the ground.” or
“Oh, in that case, Edward Scissorhands, go ahead and cut my hair.”

And then followed by.

“No problem. Let’s do this. But, wait, have you got any gum? I’ve got that nasty nap taste in my mouth.”

What makes sleep qualify as a nap anyways, and when should it just be considered as plain old sleep? Some think it’s the location of the sleep, like bed means sleep, sofa means nap. Others assume that it’s the length of the sleep, like short bursts of sleep are thus considered as naps. Some feel that it's the time of day, but what about those who work night shifts? I guess it could be a combination of all of those factors that turn sleep into a nap. Let’s just play it by ear. But what if one night you toss and turn a lot, and barely sleep at all? So you go to the sofa and try to doze off in front of the television? Could each of these short bursts be considered as naps?

“Geez Bill, you look like shit, did you sleep okay last night?”
“I didn’t sleep at all. I did take a series of naps though.”
“Oh, then get back to work, asshole.”

I guess sleep should be considered a nap if it occurs outside of your usual sleep schedule. But napping is for suckers. They never make you feel better, they make you feel like continuing your nap. Rather than confuse yourself and others around you, just go to sleep once per day, at your regular bedtime. If you are really tired from a long day of pretending to work and surfing the internet, and absolutely must go to sleep, then please commit to something, for once in your life, and just sleep all the way through to the following morning. Sometimes you may have stayed up way too late the night before, and your body is trying to act like strict parents, by telling your brain to punish you with daytime sleep.

“I can’t believe I stayed up so late past my bedtime when I told me not to. I barely made it to work on time. That’s it, go to my room! I’m going to bed without supper tonight!”

When you commit to an absurdly early bedtime at home, keep it safe, by putting up a reminder on the wall before you fall asleep stating that “YOU ARE JUST NAPPING”, because, in case you don’t sleep all the way through until morning, there really is nothing worse than waking up at eight at night and thinking that you’re going to be late for work, forgetting momentarily that you fell asleep mid-afternoon, and that it is still today, and not yet tomorrow morning. These dangers can also be easily avoided by simply not napping. I repeat that napping is for suckers.

Now, admittedly, sometimes naps are completely out of our control. Your body sentences you to random naps, no matter where you are currently located. These accidental naps don’t always happen in the home, or at opportune moments, unfortunately, and can become a great nuisance, or even great danger, if you don’t do your best to avoid them. Some examples of bad naps could be:

- Behind the wheel of a car
- Face down in a hot bowl of soup
- In the middle of a crosswalk
- Partway into a daredevil type of action stunt spectacular
- During intercourse
- Halfway into a cartwheel
- While skydiving (prior to pulling the ripcord)
- During a job interview
- While scuba diving or snorkelling
- In class or at work
- After eating a salami sandwich (now known as ‘Nightmare Sandwich’)
- While participating in the ‘Showcase Showdown’ (on ‘The Price is Right’)
- On a crowded bus (and then you fall over onto the asshole beside you)
- In an airplane bathroom (during a poop)
- During a competitive paintball tournament
- On an escalator
- While tandem kayaking through white water rapids
- Mid-sentence
- Atop a mechanical or living bull
- While bobbing for apples at a Halloween party (in costume)
- In a time machine
- After entering Thunderdome

Two men enter, one man leaves.

Bad smells, physical activity, bright lights, uncomfortable positions, self slaps in the face, fasting, loud music, caffeine, speed, big ol’ somersaults or lighting your hair on fire, are all decent ways of trying to stay awake when you feel yourself nodding off into an accidental nap. But, what I find works the best, is to focus on a time in your life when all you wanted to do was stay up late, and never go to sleep, before responsibility, before anything. Think of what being awake must have felt like then. Think about how every moment is a gift that you should cherish. Ninety-five percent of the time, this will cause you to gently drift off into a deep sleep even faster, but at least that way you fall asleep to happy thoughts. Did I mention that napping is for suckers?

That’s it. I could sure use a nap.

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