No sleep 'til San Diego
Ever been so exhausted, it's actually easier to stay awake than go to sleep. I'm in that mode right now, having *just* finished a project -- and only four hours to go before my early morning flight. I've calculated my odds of making this flight if I attempt to sleep, and they are not promising. Looking back on my long history of all-nighters (my preferred method of work), and I can't help but remember the time an old pal and myself, when we were about 19 or 20, decided to stay up all night and all through the next day on a lark. Actually, it was partially inspired by a coupon for a free 24-pack of Mountain Dew, which we acquired early in the evening at Omni. And we had both gotten up unusually early that day, so we figured we were already most of the way there. In order to accomplish our goal, we took advantage of every resource the grand southwest suburbs offered us: the Denny's, the 24-hour "BIG" K-Mart, Jewel, Dominicks and the like, all in the name of cheap entertainment and overstimulation. But as we slammed Dews in the Dunkin Donuts parking lot around 5 a.m., exhaustion was clearly setting in. We needed something different. So we decided to do something most in the southwest burbs never do -- drive north. Hinsdale was our destination. Neither or us had ever been, but we heard it was magical. And it was. There were rich folks in jogging clothes walking small, well-manicured dogs. There were hired gardeners pulling out sprinklers. And most remarkable, there was no garbage anywhere. Except for a single abandoned hub cap, which we removed from the road and properly disposed of. At some point after that, we decided we'd done everything -- except go to a junkyard. So we did that too. It was around 8:30 a.m., and we were the only ones there. We sat quietly in a rusted, broken down, half-dismantled car for about 40 minutes, our eyes drifting steadily out of focus as flies and gnats woke up to set about swarming the tiny pools of standing water in old tires, dented hoods, and loose hub caps. Then we decided we should buy pool rafts and sail them down the I & M Canal. Selecting the pool rafts took several hours, of driving back and forth between stores to find the best deal and the sturdiest raft. And just after we set the rafts in water, around 3 p.m., we cracked open what would be our last Dews. We had finally arrived at that glorious moment that had seemed so unlikely at one time, but now was ours to enjoy. The boat ride was our victory lap, it was our spike in the endzone, it was our circling the bases as the lights explode around us. And of course, once our moment in the sun was over, we docked our rafts at Dellwood Park, and two twelve year olds pulled knives on us. Pocket knives, mind you, but they believed the illusion that they were somehow capable of harming us. When they demanded money, we made a rather generous offer of whatever few sips were left of our cans of Dew, but when they pressed the issue, we explained that we had been awake for close to 40 hours and we were approaching very fragile mental states. We explained the gravity of the potential conflict-induced temporary psychosis; they backed off, not really understanding what we just said, probably realizing at that moment they could have been watching cartoons instead of dealing with these weirdos who stank of canal water. And so ends my tale, for it is time to refill my diet coke and take a shower. If I survive the shower, and the drive to Midway, it will be a miracle.