Oliver, Who Would Not Sleep

After my swim this morning, I chatted it up with a nice lady in the locker room. She told me that she has a compulsion to always use the same locker every day and I told her that similarly, at work, there is only one toilet that I feel comfortable using. It’s the security of habit.

Then, as things do, the talk turned to the weather, and I told her it felt like last weekend’s rain just up and washed away the summer, because it has been so unseasonably cool for the past week. Then, I proceeded to muse about how it’s also disheartening that the days are getting shorter, because it’s still dark when I leave my house at 5:45 in the morning. Even though I only do this three days a week, it’s just too early.

“Oh, I know!” she said, “I got up at 5:30 in the morning every year for 30 years of work! These days, when I don’t get up until six, it’s like sleeping in!”

Her subtle jab about being up earlier than I was, and doing it for longer than I’ve been alive, reminded me of something from college my friend dubbed “The Tired Game.” It’s when you try and one-up someone by proving that you got less sleep than them. Extra points if it was because you were working on some project for school and even more extra points if you didn’t start that project until the day before it was due. Finishing a project before the deadline and getting restorative, restful sleep merited disqualification from the game. We even had a slogan: “Sleep is for the weak.”

I’ve never been good at The Tired Game. I need my eight hours every night. In my college years, I could push that to five or six sometimes, but that meant that there would be a nap somewhere in the middle of the day. (It’s true, the most important thing I learned in college is that naps are not just for kindergarteners.)

The thing about The Tired Game is that no matter how much you hate it, it’s hard not to play along with it when it gets started. I had to suppress the urge to fight back with a statement like, “Yes, you did get up pre-dawn every day for 30 years, but I’ve already completed my hour of swimming, and here you are just arriving.”


“Yes, but do you stay at work until 8:00 every night?” (I’m actually only at work until 5, but 8 sounds better.)


“Yes, sleeping in until 6 is nice, but sleeping in until 9 is better.”


“Don’t worry, you’ll sleep when you’re dead, which, by the looks of the lines in your face, should be any day now.”

But, that would be slightly rude, and it would mean I was succumbing to The Tired Game, a game I wish not to play, because the quality of work you do in a day is more important than how many hours you spent doing it. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some blogs to read, crosswords to finish, and minesweeper to master.

12 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by stilettoheights on August 22, 2007 at 1:16 pm

    you could always do the ever popular…

    “Your dumb” then you punch her in the throat and run away…

    that’ll teach her.

  2. Posted by 3carnations on August 22, 2007 at 3:18 pm

    I think you actually won without realizing it. You leave the house at 5:45, while she used to wake up at 5:30. I assume you get up more than 15 minutes before you leave the house…

  3. Posted by Tinetastic on August 22, 2007 at 4:04 pm

    I was told the other day in a game of one-up-man-ship the response “Yeah, your face.” always win. I always thought “Yeah, your mom.” did but he told me “your mom.” can beat by “your face.” every time.

  4. Posted by -R- on August 22, 2007 at 4:13 pm

    I don’t get the title reference.

    I need 8 hours a sleep every night too. I don’t ever get it though, which is why I am always grumpy and always playing The Tired Game. But only in my head.

  5. Posted by stefanie on August 22, 2007 at 6:49 pm

    Ha. That last one is my favorite.

    I wonder sometimes how much better I would feel if I routinely got eight hours of sleep a night. Here I am thinking my grown-up self really needs only seven, but obviously it’s not working so well for me.

  6. Posted by Kirsten on August 23, 2007 at 2:47 am

    the tired game is making me tired just thinking about it.

    i’m off to get 8 hours, i guess i lose.

  7. Posted by Aaron on August 23, 2007 at 2:51 pm

    I always win at this game, because I always hold the trump card:

    “Yeah, man, I got like, five hours of sleep. I’m exhausted.”

    “Tired, really? That’s funny, because I’VE BEEN UP ALL NIGHT.”

    Third shift, wins every time.

  8. Posted by lizgwiz on August 23, 2007 at 3:00 pm

    I NEVER get enough sleep and, consequently, I am too tired to even play the Tired Game.

    Do I win?

  9. Posted by Hope V on August 23, 2007 at 3:36 pm

    “Don’t worry, you’ll sleep when you’re dead, which, by the looks of the lines in your face, should be any day now.”

    HAHAHAHAHAHA- that was awesome.

    My friend and I were just talking about something similar yesterday- the “you don’t understand”. Like when someone is telling you how stressed/overworked/tired etc they are and you try to simpathize (cause that’s what they wanted by telling you right?) and they say something like “no, no, you don’t understand”. Ok then, if I “don’t understand” you should either a) go whine to someone who apparently does or b) shut the pie hole and go suffer your Worlds Greatest Misery ALONE. I hate it. It makes me lose all sympathy for the person involved.

  10. Posted by Hope V on August 23, 2007 at 3:42 pm

    Reading the above I realized that…boy I sound bitter… ๐Ÿ™‚ Probably because I only got 7 hours of sleep last night and I NEED 8. And I normally get 8. Cause I’m boring and go to bed by 11 even on weekends. ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. Posted by Noelle on August 23, 2007 at 4:35 pm

    Stiletto – I’ll keep that in mind if I run into her again on Friday!

    3 carn – Actually, I’m like a machine. I’ve got my time down to 5 minutes and out the door. It’s all about pre-packing the night before. Usually it works.

    tine – I’ll have to see if that works.

    -r- A few weeks ago I decided that I would steal all my title names from songs, books, movies, or albums. I couldn’t think of anything good, so I just looked up a random title on Powells.com

    stefanie – no matter what you try and convince your body, it always thinks that it knows best.

    kir – the great thing is that when you lose, you win!

    aaron – always twisting it into something evil and wonderful, I suppose.

    liz – I think you might have just figured out the secret, anyway…

    hope – That doesn’t sound too bitter. I think the “you don’t understand” game is also a grave annoyance.

  12. Posted by Merez on August 23, 2007 at 7:50 pm

    Work smarter not harder.
    Do you have a “The Tiredest Game” where you compete with adages?

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