Its midnight, so I announce to my roommate Laura, Im going to bed.
Good idea, she says, heading for her room. Me, too.
An hour later, while foraging in the kitchen for Lucky Charms and smoked salmon, I run into Laura, who is sewing buttons onto a T-shirt in the design of a swan.
I was just going to brush my teeth, she offers.
Oh, yeah, I say. Me, too.
2 a.m.: Laura and I rendezvous in the living room because she has discovered a website about kittens that she must share with me, and I have decided that its high time I start my laundry, and does Laura have any quarters? She doesnt. No one in my apartment ever has quarters. We go on a quarter hunt.
Circa 3 a.m.: I am all ready for bedteeth brushed, face washed, quarters foundbut I am not in bed. No, no. I am draped around my mirror, plucking my eyebrows, because, in my sleep-deprived state, I am traumatized by the very idea of going to bed with sub-par eyebrows.
Somewhere in the neighborhood of 4 a.m.: I drift off to sleep. A mere five hours later, my alarm goes off. I consider skipping class and/or killing myself. Ultimately I choose life, but only because my eyebrows are extremely thin today and I want to show them off.
Our other roommate, Rebecca, does not understand my problem. Dont you like sleep? she asks. And the answer is, of course! I love sleep. I love sleep in the way that I love unicorns, hot people, and daydreaming about ballerinas.
I just cant stand the process of going to sleep. I am a firm believer in inertia. When Im awake, I like to stay awake. And when Im asleep, I like to stay asleep. Ideally for days at a time.
The truth is, Im far too lazy to go to sleep. This cant come as any surprise; Im too lazy to do most things that are good for me (go to the gym, read Moby Dick, eat vegetables although thats less a result of laziness and more a result of pure revulsion). The act of moving from waking to sleeping is one of the greatest trials of my days. Plus, I can never shake off the conviction that if I just stay awake, I am bound to get some work done. No, really. Any minute now.
Of course, I never do any work late at night. Instead, I just slump at my computer and repeatedly refresh my e-mail inbox, as though someone else is awake at 4 a.m. and has vital information to share with me (IMPORTANT: The sun is about to rise!). Occasionally, in moments of folly, I will even send e-mails, though this inevitably results in tragedy.
Admit it: at times, you, too, have foolishly sent off e-mails in the early morning hours, then awoken the next day to realize that A) you dont really know what you wrote, and B) it was probably either wildly offensive or inappropriately emotional.
You would never, at 3 p.m., after a long day of classes, sit down with an after-school snack and decide, I really need to e-mail my ex-boyfriend to tell him that I still think of him with great fondness, or, This stranger on Facebook likes Neutral Milk Hotel! I should definitely get in touch with her so we can discuss our shared interests! Yet, a mere 12 hours later, it strikes you as perfectly normal, even desirable, to dispatch such missives.
It would also never occur to you, at 3 p.m., to sew buttons in the shape of a large water bird onto a T-shirt. Nighttime messes with the best of us.
What we need, really, is what we had when we were five years old, which made going to bed so easy, so straightforward, so carefree: parents. Parents are great for marching into your room, forcibly dragging you away from your Lego game, stuffing your body into pajamas, turning off your light, and yelling at you if you come back downstairs to eat just one more cookie, or read just one more story, or send just one more stupid e-mail which you will certainly live to regret. Parents do not put up with that shit.
Sometimes I will try to exert this sort of helpful influence over Laura, in that I will stride into our living room and say with great purpose, Its bedtime!
To which she will reply, Do you want to make popcorn and watch my Buffy DVD?
My answer, always, is yes.