My rockstar kid brother phoned from NYC to chide me about my holiday plans, which, prior to his reprimand, included locking myself in my home office and knocking out a chapter or two of my second greatest American novel. He could sense the agitation in my voice, which I explained came from the fact that I was on deadline. He replied with the facile, if mildly brilliant retort “You have to get off the deadline and onto the lifeline.” Mind you, this is coming from a man who has spent his entire professional life unconscious until noon, so the lifeline, like the L train into Manhattan, apparently runs late. I mentioned this to him. He defended his hours by pointing out he’s a Californian living on New York time, meaning it’s operationally 9 a.m. when he’s groping for the snooze button at lunchtime. If I were to use a similar cover for my chronic oversleeping, I’d have to claim being a native of, oh, say, Japan (this is fitting, seeing as I’m big in Japan according to my Web stats, despite my lagging action-figure sales). If this was the case, I could wander into the office at 2 p.m. and simply say “Konichi wa, suckas!” and all would be understood.
In point of fact, I did this for the private thrill of irritating Lenny, an ambitious intern that managing editor Omarzu and I forced out in a power block once he started showing up pre-9 a.m. and openly criticizing our need for R.E.M. sleep. When he started filing our assignments before we did (and in better English) we decided to upgrade to his attitudinal status officially from “chutzpah” to “hubris” to facilitate his ouster in accordance with the tenets of Greek drama, which still rules the hearts of the Occident. At one point, we considered creating a twilight attitude we called “chubris,” but, alas, neologisms aren’t AP style and Omarzu fears the gods of the Associated Press more than fear itself. The notion perished in a flurry of backspaces. Now, we sleep on guiltless pillows.
In a dream: I was overseas as an embed for the Lumaville Daily Echo and I roomed with a chap who claimed his doctor recommended that he drink a full cup of black coffee before he hit his bunk because he was such a deep sleeper he otherwise risked slipping into a coma. On the last night of our junket, some of us journos thought it would be a hoot to substitute his “meth mud,” as he called it, with a decaf. He not only slipped into a coma, he apparently slipped into the light. We spent three weeks in an Absurdistan pokey before the autopsy exonerated us on account of a brain aneurism. I still feel a bit cheeky about the incident, despite the fact that it occurred only in the recesses of my unconscious. I’ve tried to incite the dream again so that I may rectify my actions and spare my phantom colleague his decaffeinated death. The dream never comes – I’m simply left pining for sleep, writhing in the twilight and inevitably oversleeping within a hair’s breadth of my deadline. I wrestle myself awake and arrive panting and unkempt at the office only to be greeted a moment later by Omarzu, who saunters in and greets me with “Konichi wa, sucka!”