Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Sunday and Tuesday, Chimp and Orangutan, Cadillac and Tom's

Morning. Finally landed here, at the Cadillac Cafe. I set off for Tosi's, which ordinarily opens at the civilized hour of 6:00, only to realize, on arriving at the empty parking lot and dark windows, that this was Sunday. Of course it was Sunday, that was why I was heading out early: I wanted to get my breakfast-and-writing time in before the morning sit at KCC. But on Sunday Tosi's doesn't open until 7:00, when half the useful day is over. Where else would be open?

Well, no place I wanted to go. I know, night owls feel oppressed by morning people, but let me tell you, the feeling is mutual: to someone who wakes up brimming over with energy and eager to do things at five in the morning, it seems like the whole world is tailored to night owls. Nothing is open. A glorious beautiful morning opens up, it's full daylight, and everyone else in the world, inexplicably, is sleeping. The number of things you can actually do is pretty limited.

So I drove to the ATM, and deposited some massage checks, and then decided I'd drive over to Northeast, KCC's neck of the woods, and see if there was anyplace opening at 7:00 over there. I seemed to remember some places out Alberta or Killingsworth way. By that time it would be close to 7:00, and I'd be that much closer to where I had to be at 9:00.

Nothing. Broad daylight and not a soul on the streets. Downright eerie. Then a gleam of hope came to me: the Cadillac! A little upscale for me, the sort of place where the silverware all matches and the coffee packs too much punch, but at 7:00 on Sunday you can't be choosy. At least they know how to scramble an egg.

So here I am at the window, looking out at trees, across the way, leafing out in the annual Spring insurrection. A yellow chrysanthemum glows on my table. The coffee tastes wonderful, so I have be stern with myself: only two cups of this yuppie-style coffee, or else my hands will be trembly during my massages this afternoon. My equanimity returns. I'm full of good will, even towards night-owls. They didn't ask for their strange affliction. My mind wanders off into wondering about the evolutionary advantages of the variation: did you want some of the primate-group wakeful at night, to keep an ear out for tigers? Did the night-owls wander around, on the night-time savannah, or did they stay put? Did they yearn for an all-night diner? Did they get so bored that they prodded the alpha, to make him wake up enough to take a swipe at them? The stars, the stars must have been glorious.

I come back to this world, this strange world we've made for ourselves. People in ones and twos, scattered about the cafe, drawn to each other's proximity but carefully avoiding getting so close that they might have to speak to each other, or, God forbid, touch each other. No careless nestling and nuzzling together for us, no sleeping together in a huddle, tuning our nervous systems to each other, learning to know each other's smell and heartbeat in the night. No, we keep our distance, surrounded by invisible spheres of personal space, masters of our own loneliness, each of us our own lieutenantless alpha, our own hiveless queen. Well. It keeps me in work: but I wonder how long it can last.

And now it's Tuesday, and I'm at Tom's. Never remembered to post the above. Sunday and Monday have become my busy days.

I had to go, but even as I went, I was dissatisfied with those last couple sentences. Chimps may be our closest relatives, but we have other close relatives that are far less gregarious and tribal. Orangutans would spread themselves farther than people in a breakfast restaurant. Socially, they resemble no ape more closely than 21st Century Americans: either solitary, or serially couple-bonding, with the closest ties being between mother and child. And remember they're the cleverest of the apes, after us. And, like us, they don't go into heat (or are in heat all the time, depending on how you look at it.)

But when I watch either chimps or orangutans, my main sense of how they differ from us is the speed at which they live. Turn the dial faster than “human” and you get chimps, quick, busy, sociable, and chattery: turn it slower than “human” and you get orangutans, slow, deliberate, solitary, and taciturn.

Well. Today is an orangutan day: dark, slow, and sad, pregnant with rain and regret. But though the sky is dark, the colors of Spring are rising and glowing in spite of it. It will come, after all, at least one more time.


Joyce Ellen Davis said...

Oh, my, Dale.... I love how your mind works, and that you manage to write it down so well!

Dale said...


Pica said...


YourFireAnt said...

I call it Earlywakeism. Discrimination against those who wake early (either that or earlysleepism).



marly youmans said...

Alas, I think I am aging out of nightowldom. I wrote one of my novels entirely in the middle of the night, and that may have broken me, as I didn't get many hours of sleep for some months.

And I find that I wake now much earlier than I ever have before. Perhaps one can change! You may be a night owl yet.

Anne said...

I'm making a study of oldness -- since that's where I am. When I was young I sometimes slept late, but not very enthusiastically. Now that I'm 80 (and for years prior) I can't keep my eyes open after 10 pm and they won't stay closed past about 5:30 am. But each time of day has its pleasures. I'm quite fond of 4:30 in the afternoon (wine time)

Kat said...

Ah, lovely. This: "tuning our nervous systems to each other, learning to know each other's smell and heartbeat in the night," made me think of being at Tassajara and how by the end of the summer I could tell who was walking behind me, or who I was passing, both of us dark-robed, before dawn, without raising my eyes. All that time spent sitting silently together attuning us into a strange intimacy.

Zhoen said...

I'm one of those loner introverts, glad not to have to huddle with stinky neighbors for warmth, or chatter with them when I am inside my own thoughts.

Night owls and larks live at the edges, and the world lets them have it to themselves, as there is not room for everyone at the ends. Inconvenient for them, but extremes have their compensations.

carolee said...

night owl is my strange affliction & i always stay on the look-out for tigers. but let me say this: morning? i can tolerate you all waking earlier, but can't you bumble around like the rest of us? why so damn cheerful about it? ;)

Lucy said...

I thought about gorillas the other day, out in the sunshine, how they can be busy grazing and socialising and then can't seem to stop themselves rolling over on their backs and just luxuriating and looking at the sky. I keep doing that when I'm supposed to be gardening! But I'm rather inclined to agree with Zhoen about not caring for too much huddling.

I'm more lark than owl, always was but especially as I get older. I think it does come and go at different times in life, and varies with the season and the light. There does seem to be a general agreement that night owls, like extroverts, are more rock-and-roll than their counterparts. Not doing late nights and tiring of company makes one a dreary party-pooper when young - nowadays I don't give a stuff about that anyway.

You wouldn't have much luck hereabouts finding a place to get any kind of breakfast anywhere, I like the idea of going out for early scrambled eggs... :~)

Murr Brewster said...

Well, if you're between Alberta and Killingsworth, you're in my territory, but not my time frame. If you want a very late breakfast, drop in. I don't love the night so much as I have a huge talent for sleeping in, and so I'm not tired till after two.

Dale said...

Hey, that's right, we were going to have breakfast once upon a time!