I think I got some of that from my grandmother. I have fond memories of her watching late night movies. She was a fan of the classic monsters: Dracula, Frankenstein, The Wolfman.
She’d get a real charge over the stranger getting dropped off by the locals miles from the castle, but still adamant about seeing “The Doctor.” And it would have made her night for someone to fling open the door with the vampire hiding behind it and knock his fangs out.
My mother was another late nighter. She’d videotape shows in the afternoon and catch up on them through the night. I’d sometimes wonder if she and my Dad passed each other on the stairs — he was an early riser.
So I think it’s fair to say I came to it honestly. I longed for summer vacation to arrive so I could stay up late and watch reruns of SCTV and Benny Hill. I still get a thrill remembering when the UHF stations would conclude their programming day by reciting their broadcast frequencies and playing the national anthem. I reminisce about the patterns, kids these days just have no idea.
I still dig the music that introduced the “Million Dollar Movie” that followed the 11 p.m. news. So much so I researched it to find it was “The Chase” from Dominic Frontiere’s soundtrack for “The Stuntman,” itself a fine example of a “Million Dollar Movie.” You likely know exactly what I’m talking about, it wasn’t only in the Philadelphia market.
Those were skills that served me well in the newspaper industry. Four to midnight were my working hours for much of the first 20 years of my career. And, once the paper was put to bed, a late-night hamburger and beer with the newsroom was the perfect nightcap.
Things began to change over the last 10 years, however, as deadlines shifted and I found myself working morning hours. With a nearly two-hour rail commute, I started waking up when I used to go to bed.
For a while, I’d make it to the end of the late-night talk shows. Then, the end of the monologue. Now, I’m lucky if I make it through the news. Even when I do, it’s a fight. Just last night, watching a James Bond film — a surefire way to keep me going — I had to throw in the towel.
Worse, gone are the days I could sleep in. Like many, in my youth I could sleep to noon. Now, I’m up at the crack of dawn. Not because I have to. I just am.
Sure, there’s plenty to appreciate in the morning. I enjoy the sunrise and my morning coffee, the time to relax before starting the day and a chance to read the news. I’ve taken to a brisk morning walk. But I miss the nighttime.
I miss the quiet in the house after everyone has gone to bed. Listening to the night sounds while the world sleeps. There’s a peacefulness to it, the clock ticking away, accompanied by the low hum of the appliances. Staying up late gives me a sense of getting away with something. It’s the sound of procrastination— putting off the trials and tribulations of tomorrow by borrowing a few more hours today.
I’m not one to get hung up on age, but I’m having a tough time coming to terms with fighting to stay awake at 9:30 at night. Much less being woken back up because my snoring is drowning out the television. It just doesn’t seem right. You finally get to a point in your life where you can do what you want, you are no longer capable of doing it.
Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t necessarily expect to still be closing joints at this point. But I think making the 11 o’clock news isn’t too much to ask.
Chris Six is a freelance writer and consultant. Learn more at cdsix.com