There is an evil that lurks among us. It could be sitting next to you at the DMV. It could be at your workplace. It could be at your school, or at your church. It could even be in your home. That sneaky, pernicious evil is…morning people. Shiver.
We’re not talking about everyone who is upright and functioning early in the morning, not at all. We’re talking about the people who like to be up early in the morning. The people who are happy and productive in the morning, and incredibly judgmental of anyone who isn’t.
That isn’t me. I learned early on that Jesus did not want me for a sunbeam. If he had, then he wouldn’t have made nighttime so much more interesting to me than daytime. I honestly can’t think of anything about early mornings and daytime that trumps my affection for nighttime. In the words of that song whose name I can’t remember, “The girl can’t help it, she’s made that way.”
Maybe it was because I was born at night and just naturally thought that was when everything started, or maybe it is because I’m descended from lots of other night people, but daytime never seemed as interesting or fun as nighttime. My happiest memories are largely at night, like looking for the first star at night from the nursery window or seeing the city lights spread out through the valley like some glittering dragon when driving down from the mountains or going to my first concert. And I can generally count on getting a second wind of energy in the evening. In fact, if I find myself tired at 8pm, it is a sign of illness.
Unfortunately, there are also several morning people skulking about in my family tree as well—just waiting to crash the party. Both of my grandmothers were morning people. My dad is a morning person by nature and a morning, noon, and night person by vocation. And then there is my sister. Jenelle. Dear, sweet Jenelle. I love her dearly, but that little morning troll has been waking me up since she was born. And she derives a great deal of evil glee from waking me up, cackling while she does it—that just adds insult to injury.
The thing I find so grating about morning people is not simply that their internal clock is set differently than mine (although that is enough to make them annoying), but that the circadian fluke that makes them prefer mornings over nights gives them the mistaken idea that they are morally superior to us night people rather than just being different from us. And that is really annoying, especially in the morning when I haven’t had sufficient coffee to fend off those perky bastards.
And then morning people like to talk, in that smug, morally superior tone, about all the things night people miss out on when we are not up with the sun and loving it. I have been told, way too many times, that I’m missing the best part of the day. But that doesn’t quite make sense to me because “best part of the day” is something of a preference rather than an empirical fact hammered out in granite. And, whether or not the morning is the “best part of the day” also depends on what kind of activity you are engaged in. Something tells me astronomers might disagree about morning being so damn great.
So that got me thinking about all the events and activities that work best with my time of day—nighttime. There is a whole world of stuff you miss out on if you are strictly an early-to-bed-early-to-rise person. Here are a few of those things.
• Late night movie premieres. This last week the sixth Harry Potter movie came out and scores of people waited in lines for hours to be among the first to see it at 12:01am. While it is true that you could see the same movie at another time of day, you can’t say you were one of the first ones to see it. And, being one of the first ones to see it means you will ultimately be able to influence how successful the movie will be and if other people will even bother to go see it. For example, if the hardcore fans who go to the midnight showing don’t like the film, well, it doesn’t bode well for how the film will do with the rest of the viewing public.
• Shooting stars. When I lived in Riverside, California we would drive out to the desert to see meteor showers. If you haven’t gotten to see the natural fireworks of shooting stars all jostling for place in a meteor shower, well, you are seriously missing out. Generally, we saw the best shows around 2 or 3am which is technically morning but I counted it as night because I hadn’t been to bed yet and it was dark. Meteor showers don’t happen only at 2am, but you can’t see them during daylight hours.
• Christmas tree lightings. You can drink hot chocolate and sing Christmas songs any old time of day, but if you are going to make a party of it and light the Christmas tree with pomp and circumstance, it has to be at night. During the day you just don’t have that same dramatic moment when you flip the switch and everyone oohs and aahs and says how pretty the tree looks with all the glowing lights—that requires nighttime. Oh, and caroling tends to be more of a nighttime festivity too.
• Aurora borealis. Another of nature’s wonders frequently missed by the morning brigade are the Northern Lights, Aurora Borealis. Up in the north country, especially during the winter, you can see the Northern Lights dance and pulse across the night sky in bluish-greens and reds. It is spectacular and, once again, you can see it only at night. It also helps you see them if you are in the sticks with no city lights to interfere.
• Trick-or-treating. One of my favorite times of year is fall and Halloween plays a big part in why I love fall. Sure fall gives you sweater weather, apple-picking, and longer nights, but trick-or-treating on Halloween night is the one night of the year when all the usual rules for little kids take a holiday. We got to dress up in disguises, run around the neighborhood with at night, and demand candy from strangers—even on school nights. And all the carved pumpkins need nighttime to truly flaunt their flickering smiles at all the costumed kids.
• Saturday Night Live. The cast and quality of SNL have varied a lot over the years, and yet this late-night icon holds on. This is the venue where politicians make appearances to seem approachable (Sarah Palin, Barak Obama, Al Sharpton) and musicians go to get maximum exposure for their music (like Brandon Flowers of The Killers wearing feathers and looking like a strung-out ostrich). Janet Jackson showed up there to poke fun at herself and rebuild her image after her infamous Super Bowl performance as did Rob Lowe after his sex scandal. Occasionally, SNL even does something funny or controversial that will be talked about the next morning.
• Bonfires and ghost stories. I’m not a happy camper. Most of the time, if I can help it, I’m not a camper at all. But if one must camp, then you might as well soak up the fun of staring into a campfire, roasting marshmallows, and trying to scare one another with ghost stories. Not really a daylight activity. Nighttime frees you from what is to the possibility of what might be, like one-handed murderers who killed a whole family of campers in these very woods on a night just like this while the family sat around the fire eating s’mores and telling stories…
• Drive-in theaters. I like going to regular movie theaters with stadium-style seating and rocker chairs with cup-holders and digital surround sound, but once in a while it is fun to go to the drive-in. The drive-in is a retro indulgence. You can bring your own snacks, wear your jammies to the show, get comfy with your pillows and blankets, carry on a running commentary with the rest of your car-mates about the film (like the folks from MST3K) without annoying the rest of the audience, and even snog. But if you want to enjoy the drive-in you have to wait for the sun to go down.
• Concerts. It is true that music concerts happen at all times of the day, but the bulk of them happen at night—especially the good ones. Whether you like the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, U2, Etta James, Elton John, Jewel, the Strawberry Alarm Clock, the Honey Dogs, My Chemical Romance, or anyone else, chances are most of those performances will be at night, especially if the band you want to see is the headliner.
• Nightclubs. You may not need it all that often, it may even be a once in a life event like a bachelorette or bachelor party, but if you need to shake your body down to the ground at a club, don’t plan on getting to the club before 11pm. Regardless of what kind of club it is, very few self-respecting clubs will really be hopping until late. So, if you want to get your freak on, salsa, swing, krunk, tango, thrash, or anything else, you will probably be up late. If Cinderella had been in New York, Miami, Hollywood, or Las Vegas, there is no way she would be leaving the ball at midnight, her fairy godmother would know better.
Those are a few of the things I like about night. There are lots more things to love, but that is just a sampling. So now I open it up to the rest of you night people out there, what do you think the best things about nighttime?
*I’m dedicating this post to Marnie the hairstylist, to Eric the PA, and to Margret the professional fundraiser. They have the souls of rock ‘n’ rollas even if their schedules and careers don’t always cooperate.