Matter of Laugh or Death
By Bill Dunn
Interesting observations on this thing we call life
DOZE WERE THE DAYS
Our teenage daughter asked if she could attend a party that would not be over until 1:00 a.m. My wife and I immediately began laughing hysterically, a reaction our daughter interpreted as meaning, “No way, Missy! You’re not staying out past 10 p.m. until you’re 30 years old!”
However, we were really laughing at the absurd notion that at 1 a.m. anyone would want to be doing anything other than entering into his third or fourth hour of sleep.
It wasn’t always like this. There was a time in the B.C. era (before children) when my wife and I enjoyed going to parties with our friends and coming home in the wee hours of the morning.
And, of course, back in my college days, the night did not even begin until 1 a.m. I can remember (sort of, it’s a little hazy) watching “Saturday Night Live,” and when the show was over, turning to my buddies and saying, “OK, what do you wanna do tonight? Where should we go?”
Back in those days, sleep was optional. Well, not exactly optional. I knew I would have to crash at some point, but I could usually postpone it until my first class on Monday morning. (I had a deal with my professor: if I didn’t snore too loudly, he would give me partial credit for at least showing up. I was on my own, though, during exams.)
At that time in my life, sleeping was a necessary evil. It was nothing more than a chore I had to face every once in a while, like doing laundry. (There were a couple of key differences: sleeping had to be done every few days, while laundry had to be done every few months—and passing out on the couch did not require a pocketful of quarters.)
Now that my wife and I are in our 40s and the parents of two teenagers (it’s not fair, we’re outnumbered, two to two), sleeping has become our most favorite activity in the whole world. And I mean most favorite, if you get my drift.
The change occurred when our first child was born. I think some sort of complex bio-chemical reaction takes place during the birthing process. While exiting the birth canal, the little baby grabs ahold of all the mother’s “energy hormones” and yanks them out of her body. (I think the energy hormones splash onto the floor along with all the other slime.)
At that point in time, of course, the mother is exhausted. Who wouldn’t be after going through labor for 100 hours? (And even if she was in labor for only, say, eight hours, it surely felt like 100.) But what the mother doesn’t realize, is from that moment forward, she will never again have any energy. The devious little infant yanked it all out of her. No matter how many more years she lives, that poor woman will spend every waking hour wishing she could lay down and take a nap.
The problem has been compounded in recent decades, ever since our culture decided husbands must be present to witness the birth. Now that the father is so close to the action, the baby is able to latch onto all of his “energy hormones” and yank them out of his body. Even though there is no direct physical contact between father and child at the moment of birth, the infant employs a complex bio-chemical process, I believe it’s called “electromagnetic reverse osmosis,” to drain the vim and vigor out of dear ol’ dad.
As soon as the baby is born, the father suddenly develops the urge to have a few beers and then take a nap. From that moment forward, those two desires will dominate his every waking hour, no matter how many more years he lives.
By the way, I understand the doctors and nurses who help deliver babies are immune to this process, as all of their “energy hormones” were already yanked out of their bodies years ago during their medical training.
After my wife and I finally stopped laughing, our daughter tried a different angle. She said, “Well, if you’re worried about me driving home from the party at 1 a.m., you can come pick me up.” This set off another round of hysterical laughter, as we both envisioned how well we would be able to drive while in the middle of deep R.E.M. sleep. The police would cite us for, not “D.U.I.” (Driving Under the Influence), but instead “D.U.” (Driving Unconscious.)
Our daughter continued to press for an answer, but after all that laughing, I was tired. I promised her a decision after I took a nap. She immediately complained, “Oh great! I’ll be 30 years old by then!”
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