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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Tuesday, April 23

Gapers Block

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You hear it all the time, whether it be about football head coaches, day laborers or the President of the United States. Well, not this President. But former ones.

"He/She is an early riser, up before the sun's even warm."

The granddaddy of this nation: "Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise."

Well, so what? Why do those few extra hours before 9am, when the traditional work day starts, matter so much more than those hours between, say, midnight and four a.m., when all the nerds are sleeping?

Throw me in with James Thurber: "Early to rise and early to bed makes a man healthy and wealthy and dead." Except I'll amend it: "Early to rise and early to bed, makes a man healthy, boring, dead and more likely than not celibate, so ha ha."

I'm not an early riser. Never have been. I hate getting up before 9 in the morning, and I think nobody in this great, God-fearing country should ever have to wake up before the sun does. I mean, that's just ridiculous. Why even have a sun if dudes are going to be waking up all willy-nilly, whenever they feel like? Seriously.

I rarely go to bed before 2:30 in the morning. A plurality of the time, I go to bed around 3:30 or 4. I get up at 8. So? Why the hell are all these early risers so much better than me?

They're not better. They're just weird. Unless there's a worm somewhere you're looking to suck out of the dirt, there is no excuse for waking up early enough to catch the raccoons in your trash by surprise.

Chicago, annoyingly, is an early riser's city. The City of Big Shoulders and what-not. The Merc traders have to get there at an obscene hour if they want to make any real money; the truck drivers and delivery guys that work the warehouse districts on the Near West and South Sides somehow get to work before they go to sleep. It seems like most of the city, slightly hung over, tries to get out and about around 7:30 in the morning, because they think its gives them some kind of "edge." Everyone except our aldermen, that is. I mean, what kind of advantage can there possibly be for the poor schmuck alderman sitting in his district office at 8am? An extra hour of people lining up to ask a favor or complain about a pothole? Besides, those fundraising dinners can go late.

Anyway, early risers are freaks. Literally. According to a study by Dr. Ying-Hui Fu and her colleagues at U-Cal-San-Fran, the propensity for rising early is probably due to a mutated gene that causes familial advanced sleep phase syndrome, or FASPS. Granted. Dr. Fu (or is it Dr. Ying-Hui? Because the back of Yao Ming's jersey says "Yao" not "Ming"...) is talking about people who go to bed at 7:30pm and get up at like two in the morning, but it's a slippery slope. If those people are mutants, the people who like getting up at five in the morning are just mildly freakish. I'll take that.

There is something noble about being a late-to-bed-er; the idea that despite fatigue, exhaustion, and nothing good on television, we keep going. We keep plodding forward. Just a few more drinks, another cigar, a few more pages of this book, a few more slow-motion viewings of the hallway scene from Unfaithful. Heroes we are, the sleep-deprived creatures of the night.

Besides, a lot goes on at night. For example — most crimes. So not only are we pushing ourselves to get more done before we go to sleep, we are absorbing a disproportionate amount of the violent crimes in our city. Makes life easier and more comfortable for the rest of you. Also, when it is 2 in the morning here, people in the Middle East and Europe are just starting their day, so we can conduct business with them, if we were so inclined. Which maybe if everybody was willing to do, we'd get a lot closer to understanding each others cultures. So thanks a lot, early risers. Way to be a roadblock to peace.

Let's not forget strip clubs. Many a stripper would be unable to support herself or her family were it not for the winners who hang out there at 2am on a weekday.

But let's not leave this to anecdotal evidence. It's time we night owls made a serious push to get the respect we deserve. So for your consumption, a comprehensive object comparative table:

Early RisersPro/ConNight Owls
Can Greet the Newspaper Boy(Night Owls +1) Can Chase off Gang Taggers
Eat Grapefruit to "start the day right" (Night Owls +1) Drink Quart of NyQuil a Week
Smile, stretch a lot (Night Owls +1) Sleepily Wave off Friendly Neighbors
Get Weather Report from Al Roker (Night Owls +50) Know all the Hilarious Infomercial Products
Get Errands Done Before Work (Early Risers +10) Have to Use Lunch Break to Get Root Canal
Beat Traffic To Get To Work (Push) Outwait Traffic To Get to Work
Make Their Beds Each Morning(Early Risers +1) Usually Sleep on Couch, Toilet
"Happy Hour" Only Option
for Weekday Drinking
(Night Owls +75)"Happy Hour" means the
period when the bartender falls
asleep and you serve yourself
Final Score: Early Risers 11, Night owls 128

Not even close. Maybe. (The math might be off, it was 4 in the morning when I did it.)

So I submit to you this:

"Late to Bed, Late To Wake, Makes A Person Gutsy, Lusty, and Less Freaking Insufferable."

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Concerned Reader / February 15, 2006 1:30 PM

Who is writing this column now? I am a confused, but loyal, reader.

Andrew / February 15, 2006 1:47 PM

CR, there are two writers, Ramsin and Richard. In his farewell column, Ramsin mentioned that he'd chime in on occasion when he could -- this is the first of those occasions.

brian / February 15, 2006 1:47 PM

The column is normally written by our new staffer, Richard Carnahan. However, Ramsin will sometimes drop in and write a column or two; he's still our valued friend.

a / February 15, 2006 7:37 PM

rich is better. i think ramsin's lost his edge.

mike / February 16, 2006 4:54 AM

It is nearly 5 in the morning and I am going to sleep. I agree with Ramsin and will add that there is no better feeling in the world than dreaming all the inconsistencies of morning news shows, morning traffic, and smiling, coffee-punched colleagues away, or, if working, know that you had the distinct pleasure of being alive while everybody else in your office, school, or dockyard drooled unconsciously on their overused pillows.

rock and roll

michelle / February 16, 2006 8:45 PM

i go to bed early because i simply love sleep and my employer requires me to be there at 7:45 a.m....BUT don't worry, i find PLENTY of time to watch the "Unfaithful" hallway scene in slo-mo.

van Moxie / February 21, 2006 9:53 AM

I've just begun to get over my shame and guilt about being a morning person by nature, despite years of forcing myself to be a rock n roll night owl because I thought it was "cool." Now this. Thanks a lot, mister. Way to set me back.


About the Author(s)

Ramsin Canon covers and works in politics in Chicago. If you have a tip, a borderline illegal leak, or a story that needs to be told, contact him at .

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