Something curious is happening to me. I hope it’s nothing to be too concerned about. I’m not napping as much as I used to. For most of my life, if I was on the couch watching a TV show, I’d nod off within five minutes. But a couple of weeks back, I made it through the entire Super Bowl wide awake. Not even Peyton Manning can say that.
This past month I did not take a single nap. Even the dog wondered what happened to our siesta. He kept following me around the house as if to say, “Hey, I’m 80 in dog years. It’s almost 2 p.m. Let’s stretch out and do this.”
Napping has never been a problem. When I was a high school teacher, I actually fell asleep in class while proctoring a statewide exam. The kids were very polite. “I hope we didn’t disturb you yesterday, Mr. Wolfsie,” said one of my students. “We tried to cheat as quietly as we could.”
Until recently, I could take a quick snooze while having dinner with friends, sitting at red lights, waiting for my wife to put on makeup, letting the dog relieve himself, and waiting at fast food drive-up windows and in checkout lines. Anywhere.
As a result of grabbing the occasional 40 winks, I have missed a few events that, in retrospect, I probably should have stayed awake for. Here are the top three:
1. My 65th birthday party (I wish they had screamed “Surprise!” louder)
3. The end of my interview with Governor Evan Bayh
Mary Ellen has never quite understood the value of a nap. Personally, I think women are afraid they’re going to miss something. Like a sale, or a beautiful sunset, or the plot of a movie. Men don’t care about stuff like this. On the rare occasion when Mary Ellen has fallen asleep during the day, she has awakened with an apology and an explanation for her behavior. “I don’t know what happened. I must be coming down with something!” I always had a different attitude when awakening from a short slumber: “Man, that was great. I’m getting better and better at this all the time.”
My inability to nap recently came up during my recent annual physical, but there was some confusion in the conversation. “How are you sleeping?” asked Dr. Ross
“It’s been rough,” I told him. “Sometimes I’m awake for 8 or 10 hours in a row.”
“TEN HOURS?” he gasped. “We need to do some testing. How long has this been going on?”
“Do you just toss and turn in bed?”
“Well, I’m not in bed. That’s the problem. I’m out driving the car, watching the news or cooking. Sometimes I’m in the garage operating heavy machinery.”
“This is very troubling, Dick. So you don’t sleep all night?
“No, I sleep great at night. It’s all day that I can’t sleep.”
Dr. Ross was very helpful once I straightened out the misunderstanding. He said I had to accept that men experience changes in their bodily rhythms as they mature. “I want you to go home this afternoon and really think about that,” he said. I told him I’d have to sleep on it. Which meant, of course, it would have to wait until that night.
The problem is that there are now two more hours each day when I need to find something to keep me busy. I think I have found the perfect online service to do just that. It must really work, or they couldn’t call it Napster.