Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Little-Known History of Sleep

Sleep has not always been this corrupt. My great-grandma shared wonderful stories of Sleep; they were the stories of her great-great-grandma, so many years before the dark legacy of Thomas Edison. It was a time when Sleep was honest and hard-working. You could close your eyes at night and rest, because you knew, you could depend on Sleep.
The problems began with the tantalizing theory of electricity, capturing inventors' fancies, swelling and escalating and all too soon giving way to the incandescent light bulb. Then it was only a matter of time before Sleep sold out to big money opportunities.

It organized itself into an impermeable union, guaranteeing less work and higher wages. Funded by shady, under-handed lobbying in Washington, the Sleep Union pushed for legislation that eight hours minimum be the standard for human survival. And yet, at the same time, dirty money slipped through the ledgers of “sleeping pill”pharmaceuticals and home security systems, bribing Sleep to underperform.

Today it’s hard to imagine Sleep as anything other than the selfish, lazy, self-righteous mercenary that it's become. But there was a time, oh for the sake of all that is decent, there was a time, when Sleep gave an honest night's work.

The Union lost control of its constituency, and Sleep simply refused any compromise. No longer would Sleep fill its late night hours with constructive housework. “Clean your own hearths!” went the slogan, pasted up overnight on walls and street signs all over the countryside. (Up to this point, there had been no chimney sweeps.)

Then it was the outrageous compensation Sleep demanded in households with infants. Parents could no longer comply with the steep, requisite "gratuities" for Sleep to rock the cradles of restless babies, and newborns quit sleeping through the night. (This is when nannies became huge in England.)

The errant load of laundry in the washer would never make it to the dryer, and you could no longer drift into dreamland amidst thoughts of forgetting to lock the door, because gone were the protective instincts of Sleep and its diligent night-time routine.

And then, as white collar crime inevitably stumbles into the rougher crowds of back alley dealings, Sleep even sold its soul to the Term Papers, Underbed Monsters, and Roiling Thoughts that it had spent centuries valiantly battling.

Obsessed with the profits of a newfound capitalism, Sleep laid off the Sand Man whose gritty threats had coaxed eyes to close for centuries, and sold off the Counting Sheep for chops and mutton.

My great-grandma would get so worked up in the re-telling that she would solemnly swear at the injustice of Sleep's corrupt ways.

“Just you wait,” she would say. “Just you wait, Sleep, because one of these days, I am going to R.I.P."

"And I’m coming for you.”

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