The worst two times of the day for me are the two 4 o’clocks. I hate 4 o’clock in the morning; it’s too late to go back to sleep and it’s too early to get up and I loathe 4 PM; it’s neither afternoon nor evening. Take a look at what bugs me about these two tedious times of day and I know you’ll agree:
4:00 is the image I dread most on my nightstand digital clock. If I wake and see an eerie glowing 4:00 I know I won’t be able to go back to sleep and it’s too damn early to get up. What are we supposed to do? The paper’s not here yet, there’s nothing on TV and NPR hasn’t begun their day yet, even in our time zone. If I turn on my lamp to read I know I’ve unconsciously begun my day, it’s way too early and I’ll be asleep by 8 PM tonight. Is this any way to live?
Let’s look at our options at 4 AM:
1. You can lay in the dark with your eyes closed and try to fall back to sleep. I find that my mind races, I toss and turn and I’m unable to find a comfortable position. The odds that I will actually go back to sleep are about a hundred to one.
2. You can get up and begin you day. And do what? Take a long hot shower, surf the internet, read you’re email, work a puzzle. Whoopee! You’ll get through the morning alright but your chin will hit the soup tonight at dinner.
3. Try to rouse your partner for some hanky-panky. Although this is a desirable option it won’t fill the amount of time you have on your hands. If you succeed, and I seriously doubt you will, what are going to do at 4:03?
4. Turn on the light and get back into the novel you were so engrossed in just 6 hours earlier. This works except the outcome is the same as option 2. You’ve actually begun your day, just at a somewhat slower pace.
Way back when I used to earn my living this was the clock-watcher’s hour, too early to go home, yet too late to do anything. You were too mentally burned-out to tackle anything hard so you just sat and stared at the clock or in today’s world your computer screen. Now that I’m retired I find I’m faced with same dilemma. It’s too early for cocktails, too early to start dinner yet it’s too late to go anywhere or do any of those chores I’ve already postponed. I hate this time of day and I can’t figure out what I‘m supposed to be doing.
Our options at 4 PM seem to be:
1. Declare 4:00 PM to be cocktail hour or the official start of the cocktail time of day. This is the option I most frequently exercise. It fills the time but I really piss off my wife when I’m too tipsy to barbeque or to enjoy her thoughtfully prepared dinners. Also, I’m asleep by 8:00 PM, and will wake up at 4:00 AM the next morning perpetuating this endless cycle.
2. Take a nap. I haven’t learned how to do this yet. I want to put on my jammies, brush my teeth and curl up under the covers when I go to sleep. Just sleeping ad hoc in your clothes without a full commitment to a night’s rest seems wrong to me somehow.
3. Watch Oprah. I’ve done this and I’m now positive that this option facilitates option number 1. I’ve tried Oprah sober and I’d rather have a root canal than deal with her. She’s a high-maintenance diva trying too hard to convince her viewers and herself that she’s just a simple country girl from Mississippi who somehow stumbled into the big time. What a hypocrite! Oprah is definitely not an option for me.
4. Channel surf. Try to find something interesting on TV. Cable and satellite service providers have given us hundreds of channels of totally boring and bad stuff. Your job, if you are to accept it, is to try to find something interesting, educational or amusing on TV at this time of day. I’m an expert on this option but I always end up re-watching reruns of Anthony Bourdain on the Travel Channel. But, with remote in hand, I’ll keep searching for something better, one channel at a time.
I know I’ve not been of any help to you with solutions to this pressing issue nor have I presented any viable options to solve this problem I’m now calling this the “4 o’clock doldrums”. Maybe we should form a task force and get some Obama stimulus money to study and finally and answer this really important question … what the hell are we supposed to be doing at 4 o’clock?
©2009 by Bob Rockwell