It's in my blood, you know. My grandpa was a farmer from a long line of them. He was a man who limped everywhere because as a kid, he shot off his pinkie toe with a rifle. A man who could find water with a sliver of apple wood, or catch a bat by throwing a hat into the air.
My grandpa had a million stories, including the one about hauling a fallen tree back to school after the teacher sent him out to fetch a switch. And another about the time he earned a whole quarter by biting the head off a mouse.
My grandpa worked from sun to sun, toiling on the farm and driving a school bus. So, yeah. It's in my blood.
Except, maybe, for the part where you work tirelessly in blazing heat or bitter cold. And, my God, especially the part where you get up before the birds and go outside to do stuff.
But other than that, I'm a farmer through and through.
He was a farmer all his life, it's true. But my grandpa didn't care for early mornings any more than I do. Mere roosters weren't enough to rattle him from his bed (which he crawled into the night before with just a brick wrapped in flannel for warmth. And presumably grandma, but I don't like to think about that.) No, this hard man, who milked cows, wrestled pigs and chucked bales of hay onto a horse-driven rack had to get himself a windup alarm clock and place it in a metal bucket on the other side of the room. That and only that was enough of a clamor to rouse him enough so that the matter of farming could get under way.
So, when I say it's in my blood, I don't mean just the love of an honest day's work. I mean the absolute, uncompromising disdain for any hour that isn't noon or later when it comes to waking up. And let's just never mind that my father was a mailman who never missed his appointed rounds a single time and who was said to whistle while he worked.
They say it skips a generation, like baldness or the ability to raise one eyebrow.
I go to work around 3 p.m. each day. On more than a few occasions, I've overslept.
During Daylight Sucking Time, I wake up just in time to see the sun go down.
I once killed a telemarketer for calling the house at 11 a.m.
No, I didn't do that. I simply maimed him. But you get my drift. Mornings and I don't care for one another. I don't like them and they don't like me. If I'm required to get out of bed at a cruel hour — say 10 a.m. — the house better be on fire. And even then, if the flames haven't yet spread from the kitchen to the bedroom, don't wake me. I'll take my chances.
I was miserable as a kid in school. As if getting out of bed in the morning wasn't bad enough, I was expected to dress myself before going outside. Many were the mornings I showed up at Brookside Elementary School wearing mismatched socks, an inside-out sweater and no pants. Other kids laughed at me. I mean, they probably did. I don't really know. Because the very minute I got seated at my tiny desk, I put my head down and went to sleep until recess.
I'm pretty sure I graduated from Brookside only because my teachers wanted me and my nakedness gone from their classrooms. And thanks to that generosity, I made it all the way to my junior year in high school before I quit (true story) because I couldn't take getting up for my first class at 9 a.m. anymore. I finished my schooling at night and then went on to become CEO of a Fortune 500 company (entirely untrue) even though I missed every single board meeting because those Wall Street nerds insist on having them before 1 p.m.
I detest mornings, is what I just spent 500 words explaining to you. But I'm not a rock star or the pope or Charlie Sheen. Every once in a while, I have to suck it up and rise before noon for a funeral or a wedding or some other damn thing people do just to inconvenience me. Fortunately, after decades of battering cheap department store alarm clocks into so many shards of chirping plastic, I found a way to get it done. Technology has come through for me again, in the form of a smart phone app that requires me to do math before I'm allowed to hit the snooze alarm.
No, really. If you haven't heard of this, you should probably check it out for the snoozer in your life. It's called Alarm Clock Xtreme and it will get even the most committed sleeper out of bed. Just to earn the right for eight minutes of snooze time, I have to answer two math questions. I have it set on the easiest math level, but still. You'd be surprised at how daunting 28+23 looks when two-thirds of your brain still resides in the land of dreams. Is that simple addition? Or the Pythagorean Theorem?
To disable the hateful alarm (I set mine to play the "Godfather" or "Halloween" theme, depending on my mood) I have to perform two more math problems and invent five new swear words. Because even if I get the math right in my head, my fingers invariably punch the wrong keys due to the fact that one of my eyes and both of my hands remain asleep. And with the wrong answer entered, the alarm just keeps on wailing, reminding me to never take sides with anyone against the family or that some child killer is coming back to Haddonfield to kill me.
After all that math and all of the swearing, I'm wide awake. Furious, but wide awake. Which is exactly the point of this wonderful/wretched gadget that wakes me in spite of my best efforts to defy it. And I thought you should know all of this, given that tomorrow is Thanksgiving and you're no doubt wondering if I'll make it to dinner. The answer is yes, my slaving friend. Because of Alarm Clock Xtreme, I'll be there well before the turkey is on the table. No problem.
I mean, you were going to invite me. Right?
Mark LaFlamme is a Sun Journal staff writer. You can invite him to Thanksgiving dinner (he'll do the after-dinner cleanup) at email@example.com.