Waking-Up Times, In Order
5am — Worth doing perhaps once or twice in life, for the novelty if nothing else. Possibly you have been invited to spend the day ice-fishing with a very wise old man, or want to see what a sunrise looks like from the top of a volcano. Fine, splendid, etc. It will hurt like the devil, of course, but you can spend the rest of the week recovering, and ultimately will do no more damage than a single bullet wound.
5:30am — You are a doctor of some kind? You have, perhaps, very small children? Several of them, and all vanishingly small? Small, they are Borrowers, your children? They sleep three abreast in the shell of an acorn and take their daily bath in the dew from a tulip? You have trouble finding them in the morning, so you must wake up very early and go a-hunting through the shadows in your humble cottage until they can be safely gathered up and confined to their playpen, which is an old orange peel? Yours is a hard life, and a strange one; but we each of us have a task to perform, and I wish you good luck with yours. You are the only doctor in town? There is no one else who can help you carry the burden of doctoring every family in a twelve-mile radius, that you must wake up even before train conductors? I am sorry for you — proud of you, but sorry too.
6am — Be careful — be wary — as the saying goes, “The early riser is conceited in the morning and stupid in the afternoon.” Might you have purchased what felt like a virtuous start to the day at the expense of the rest of it? My God, what time are you going to have lunch?
6:30am — I know perfectly well what you think of me. You object to my parasitism, my cut-rate methods, you would despise me if you ever troubled yourself sufficiently to form a lasting opinion on my account — and I will never get out of Casablanca. Well, that only shows what you know. I am getting out. After tonight I’m through with the whole business. What have you to say to that?
7am — Look at you! How marvelous to look at you! How wonderful, how fine it is to look at you! What good it does me to look at you! I can feel my eyes ensleeken, grow velvet, my ears fat and happy. How I like to look at you, growing like a splendid vegetable, tall in God’s green garden. You’re an effective character. Things happen just as they ought to, just when they ought to, when you’re around.
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7:30am — You know when to go to bed — but you also know what it is to feel — I don’t know what it is exactly but somehow when I see you I feel a little bit like crying, and a little bit like I might never need to cry again. We don’t need to talk but if you’d like to say anything, I’d be very glad to talk to you, about anything in the world.
8am — Good, good, good. Hello, good morning, how was your weekend, nice to see you, everything in order here, papers all stamped, yes yes the niceties, of course, doors smoothly open, welcome in, see you soon, everything soon, morning all paper, everything of course, good to yours.
8:30am — You’re a man who likes his pleasure, but you know when to buckle down and begin the work in earnest. You have one simple deep green robe, bordered with white fur, which hangs so loosely on your figure that the capacious breast is bared, as if disdaining artifice; your head wears no other covering than a holly wreath; your face is genial, your eye sparkling, your hand open, your voice cheery, your demeanor unconstrained — I have never seen the like of you before! I would like to shake your hand and fry you an egg!
9am — Have you missed something? No, everything does seems as it should be, in its right place, but — have you missed something? Are you sure you haven’t forgotten something, or — or something?
9:30am — Clocks won’t strike, a match won’t light; a man ain’t fit to live with, and a woman’s a sorry sight. Perhaps you were killed last night, or a wizard has taken a pet against you? Better luck tomorrow, maybe.
10am — Oh, I am sorry — I am terribly sorry — but they’ve all gone, every last one of them — I’m sorry, but you just missed them. I’m very sorry but you’ve missed everybody.
[Image via Wikimedia Commons]