Friday, April 16, 2004

Sleep Deprivation

Do you remember those first few times you stayed awake later than you were supposed to? Like all night!

The first time I stayed up all night I watched the WCVB-TV Channel 5, Boston, broadcast of "Five All Night" starring George Fennel. Uncle George, as he came to be known, was a hero to underage stoners, third-shift workers, and adult insomniacs throughout metropolitan Boston. This was the first all-night broadcast of television in the Boston market.

Uncle George would sit in a high director's chair, backlit, in a cowboy hat, so all you saw was a silhouette. He chatted about this and that and gossiped about the movie being shown, and he spoke in that early-70s FM radio voice: very controlled and serious, but ironic and fun-loving at the same time (I recall Tommy Hadjis at WBCN-FM). The broadcast was mostly old movies, and I saw more Charlie Chan movies watching Five All Night than I thought existed.

Later in life the all-nighters were usually connected to a long road-trip or a party. Rarely did I watch television. Then came the professional commitments when a crisis could require a thirty-hour day. Until yesterday, my last all-nighter fell into this category: trying to get a newly-installed computer network in Warsaw, Poland, to function properly. It was just as fruitful as an all-night party, without the benefit of the drugs and drunk English girls.

The night before last began the newest chapter in my life: the arrival of an infant daughter. No previous experiences with staying up all night prepared me for this. Sure, those earlier all-nighters included this same double-vision and this feeling that the inside of my face is sandpaper; but, I never had sleep deprivation bring me so much joy.

There is nothing better than being awoken by the sound of a tiny infant calling for you.

Ooops . . . there she is now . . .