Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Had your zzzzz?s today?


By BETTY BELL

The strange background whish you hear is likely the collective sigh of relief that naps are now A-OK. Napping, according to the gospel of CNN, is well on its way to becoming a national attribute.

What a turnaround! When I was your age I remember how humiliated I'd be when I'd get caught napping. Back then, vigor was the thing—vigor was number one in determining social stature, and everyone took great care not to be caught with mouth agape. Today, sadly, bottled water trumps vigor. Even sadder, it doesn't look hopeful that we'll collectively sign onto a twelve-step recovery program and stop pyramiding empty water bottles and make a feeble start at saving the planet.

Nap acceptance has come upon us largely unnoticed, though already a few enlightened Corporates—CEOs—are sanctioning the mid-day nap for their valued contributors, a contributor being a payroll person a rung above a WalMart associate. A scattering of these enlightened Corporates have begun to dedicate small spaces in which contributors may retire for forty winks. I haven't actually seen such a space, but what I envision is a coffin-sized room with enough head clearance to sit up. I see it diffused with enough light to dispel any dread of dead, and I see it comfortably padded and with a ceiling dreamily studded with stars. Likely there's a pillow guaranteed to cradle one's neck in rapturous comfort, and there's a stack of disposable pillow covers for the following shifts. In this "Nappy," a contributor may seek rejuvenation for 10, 15, perhaps even 20 minutes without ever having to punch-out.

Though Corporates are as frightfully frightened of unions as ever, the enlightened among them have discovered bottom-line benefits in the midday nap for it has been determined by those whose determination counts that a midday nap not only increases productivity, but it was often accompanied by a marked increase in civility. It's too early to tell, but at the end of the day there may be less domestic violence as well. For sure, security is more secure. Who among the refreshed, just-napped Annies would get her gun to bop-off her Corporate?

When I was your age and vigor was still number one, I'd sneak in a nap now and then, though it was never close to an addiction. When I did succumb it wouldn't be from diminished vigor following exceptionally athletic endeavors, rather, these infrequent naps invariably followed a night of excessive exuberance when in the morning I had to scrabble off the side of the bed with a huge pumpkin skewed on my neck.

Nap acceptance is still so new that if you haven't turned to NOTP news—News Other Than Paris—perhaps this is the first you've heard of it. The young won't see it as any big deal, but those in transition, starting about age 55, will welcome this universal acceptance. Transition time is the self-conscious time when naps strike more often, but the acceptance isn't quite there. It's uncomfortable to be caught napping until after transition—somewhere around 75. After 75 it becomes clear that one's transitioned friends nap regularly, and they're thoughtful enough not to ring one another between 1 and 5 p.m. For the fully transitioned, phone lines go dead after lunch.

Few among us haven't logged a share of inappropriate naps: the too-long-a-sermon nap ... the yet another school-assembly nap about just saying no to yet another sin ... the company mid-afternoon meeting nap ... the Grandma going on and on about her African violets nap. I still feel a clutch at my heart remembering my Granny's African violet naps.

And few among haven't logged an extraordinarily inappropriate nap or two. Here's one I'll own up to: Once upon a time in the years I was paid to fly, during a series of summers I flew regularly to salt Lake City either to collect or deliver passengers. Sometimes I wouldn't have a passenger on one segment, and if it was going to Salt Lake I didn't have a problem. But if I had to dead-head home on a scorching July or August afternoon, when I'd get about half-way back over the same-old, same-old route, and if it was late afternoon and the sun was big in my windscreen, despite my intense intention to stay awake, my head would drop like a two-pound sinker. I do not think these time-outs lasted longer than a bagfull of seconds—but, my, they were profound, and, my, when my eyes popped open the resurrection was divine.




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