I asked some buddies at dinner the other night what time they get up, for I sense from early morning emails and texts that I am the last man in America to get out of bed.
The first guy, Jon, said 4:30, and the second guy, Big Wave Dave, said 3:30.
I immediately moved to the other end of the long table, full of red wines and bloody meats ... down to where other writers were, sensible people who sleep past sun-up.
"A guy down there gets up at 3:30 in the morning," I told Michael.
"That's sick," Michael said.
"Very sick," I agreed.
"I mean, I've been getting up at 5 ..." he said.
"But I have a couple of projects."
"That's sick," I said.
My buddy Siskin gets up at 5 too and keeps urging me to do so as well, bragging about how much he gets done. He writes on legal pads in super-tight handwriting that resembles the footprints of finches, a precision that's always eluded me.
Of course, lots of things elude me: the plot of "9 Chickweed Lane," this new "Annie," a remake that's as ill-fated as "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" a few years back.
Generally, I don't like remakes, sequels, animated movies, updated songs, jungle wars, tribute bands, clogs or any show with Katherine Heigl in it.
Other than that, I'm pretty easygoing. As long as I get my rest.
That's why I'm up each day at 7 sharp.
What time do you get up?
"At 5:30," said Bill.
"Wake up at 4:45," said Joe.
"Up by 4:45," reported Bob.
Of the dozen guys I surveyed, most over age 50, only one got up as late at 6:30. Almost all of them reported that they sleep worse than they did when they were younger. Most were in bed by 11. Bob seems to be some sort of vampire, in bed at midnight, up less than five hours later.
"We need less sleep when we're older," he explained. "We are actually more productive and accomplish more as we get wiser."
Who said anything about wiser, Bob?
* * * *
We sent my wife, Posh, off to New Orleans for a little anti-rehab the other day. She hadn't had enough alcohol lately ... hardly any at all, and it was starting to affect her behavior.
So we sent her off to New Orleans with the lovely and patient older daughter. We suspect to see them both again, though that is not guaranteed. New Orleans has a way of swallowing you in wonderful and mysterious ways.
Worrisome too was the suitcase Posh packed. A sizable thing, it could house a herd of cattle or a thousand pairs of boots (same thing?). Took three Teamsters and a forklift just to get it into the car. The process bent the forklift and killed the Teamsters. But she made her flight. Which is the important thing.
Posh needs this — it is almost an emergency situation. Like the rest of us, she has "holiday fatigue." The circles under her eyes were the same weird inky dark of Sylvester Stallone's hair. Her daughter insisted that she tag along on a business trip. If New Orleans doesn't lift your spirits, you have no spirits left.
New Orleans is decadent, creative, succulent, rotty, glimmering, literary, moody — a complete mess of a city, and possibly our very best. I'd rather go there than London or Paris. It is more musical than either of those, more impulsive.
That New Orleans even still exists is somewhat of a miracle, cradled as it is in the armpit of a significant river, just barely above the fish. Perhaps that explains New Orleans' festive nature and its appreciation for a rollicking good time. It lives like the fuse is burning.
So that's where we sent Posh and our daughter for a few days. They've reported back, from a magnificent table filled with oysters.
From New Orleans, the nation's funky little pearl.
* * *
So there you have it, another year, another lap around the sun.
Thankful are we for life's respites, for the clink of glasses around the table, for friends who share the intimacies of their lives, even when we don't ask them to.
Thankful are we for the lows life brings you, for without them, how can we appreciate the highs?
And thankful are we that we get to continue all this, the early mornings, the late nights, the extra time for friends and family feasts — even the texts at 4 a.m.
As another year passes, thankful for it all.