Crow's-Feet Chronicles: Hamsters and night owls
By Cindy Baker Burnett
Oct 2, 2017
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I married a man with the insides of a hamster eight years ago. He functions throughout the day pretty well. When the sun goes down, his body goes on alert. Lanny engages his neck pillow and starts to forage for food and drink. The TV tuner flips channels like a Charlie Chaplin movie on fast-forward. Sometimes he goes to the shop and turns on his electric drill or fiddles with the lawn mower until he gets it started. He flips on the truck radio for “company.”


Or he nudges Jackson out of a sound sleep, and Jackson eventually starts barking to be let out. Lanny calls people in time zones where they have been asleep for three hours to ask, “What time is it there?”


With his stomach full and the night behind him, he makes a noisy entrance into the bathroom, where he flushes, hums, and gargles like a volcano ready to blow. He hits the bed with a bounce, wraps the entire king-size blanket around his body, and dozes off. Jackson will awaken him in two hours.


It’s something you don’t discuss before you get married---and you should. It’s like being married to a man who is hooked up to a NordicTrack from midnight to 5 a.m.


Some people say they can’t tell the difference between a day person and a night person. Grow up! All you have to do is go to an overnight supermarket and it will hit you right between the eyes. They slip into the store at some ungodly hour in a wrinkled warm-up suit, no socks, and sunglasses, even though the sun set four hours ago. They grab the first cart by the door, even if it has a piece of lettuce caught in the seat.


Their first words to the cashier are, “What time do you close?” They never squeeze fruit or read labels. They just toss the stuff into the cart.


There’s inattentiveness about nighttime shoppers, like they just popped in during a commercial for a bag of chips and a case of Monster drinks. They don’t care what they buy. They just stand in front of a bunch of boxes that say “Just add water,” close their eyes, and grab one.


They will buy a tabloid at the checkout even if the headline reads “Why Angelina Cried on Her Wedding Night” and they know the answer will be “Room service was closed.”


Normal humans consume three meals a day in some kind of pattern. Except nocturnal people and Frenchmen. For some reason, they put nine or ten hours between lunch and dinner. Just because animals dine fashionably late, I see no reason to stand around a party table eating bait off a Ritz cracker in anticipation of a meal that will be served at 10:30 at night. It’s unnatural.


Humans are losing their work-all-day/sleep-all-night patterns. More and more of our businesses and social pleasures are staying open twenty-four hours a day to accommodate the night people. They can bank, bowl, shop, pray, do their laundry, see a movie, eat and drink, get married, gamble, fly to New York, have a baby, or have their spouses arrested. The services are all there for them.


When I was a kid, I had a hamster called Edgar. Edgar was a real charmer. During the day he would coil up in a ball at the side of his cage with all the personality of a Brillo pad. You couldn’t wake him up. At night when I was in bed, I could hear him running around that squeaky wheel like he was leading the pack at Boston. It was a wheel to nowhere, but those little feet would go nonstop all night long.


I don’t know if Edgar was male or female. But that hamster and Lanny would have been kindred spirits.