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The Column

ICFS Disorder and Celebrity Kid Growth
8/25/02

It’s 2 AM and I’m staring at my alarm clock. 2:01. 2:02. 2:03. I have to get up in six hours, and all I can think about is how no one ever says anything when tv kids grow five years in one season. I know I’d notice if that happened in my family.

When I don’t have to wake up until noon, I can drift off right away. But when I know that I have less than eight hours, it’s impossible to do anything other than lie there and wonder why I can’t sleep. 2:05. Crap.

There are several stages of “I can’t friggin sleep” (known to most doctors as ICFS). The first is wondering why I’m so awake. I think of all the ways that I could be productive instead of wasting my time laying down. I could do the dishes. I have some email I haven’t gotten to yet. Maybe I can write next week’s column. So I sit up, but I’m too tired to do anything.

Once I’m up, I’m exhausted. I remember how comfortable my bed is. The dishes don’t really need to be done now. And I can barely keep my head up to check my e-mail, let alone write a column. After wasting a few more minutes debating with myself ala Cameron Frye (“He’ll keep calling me…”), I go back to bed. Now it’s 2:15. That was real productive.

I never understood why there are 24 hours in a day. We’ve obviously made some sort of mistake, since we lose a quarter of a day every year. And February having just 28 days is ridiculous. There are seven months with 31 days. Take two of those days and give them to February and then you’ve got five months with 31 and seven months with 30. And rearrange the whole thing so months with 30 days and months with 31 days alternate. Wouldn’t that be easier to remember? These are the things I think about when I’m trying to sleep.

Certainly they had to have noticed Andy on Family Ties. That kid turned seven overnight. How could they miss that? And the Keatons were supposed to be good parents.

The next stage of ICFS is drifting into deep thought for a few minutes at a time. Deep thought patches are the worst because every time you snap out of one, you’re as wide-awake as you were when you started. And it’s frustrating to realize you just wasted four minutes trying to remember who you sat next to in sixth grade.

I sat next to a girl I had a crush on in sixth grade. Which was strange for me because it wasn’t until halfway through sixth grade that I knew I actually liked girls. Maybe I knew it at the beginning of sixth grade, but didn’t admit it until a few months later. 2:29. Crap.

It is now time for my patented head turn. I’ll lie in one position for ten or fifteen minutes, and since it’s not doing anything for me, I figure that turning in the opposite direction is the answer. Hmmm. Now I’m facing the wall instead of my desk. That’s much better.

My biggest problem is that the room is pitch black so I can’t even stare at the ceiling. I tried, but with the lights off it looks just like my desk. Or maybe it is my desk. I don’t even know which way I’m facing anymore.

If I keep my eyes open long enough, they adjust to the light. There’s a little glimmer across the room. Is that my laptop? Maybe the light from my printer? Did I leave my printer on? Man, that’ll show up on my electric bill! Should I get up to turn it off? No, I’m too tired. Maybe if I just turn my head. What was that girl’s name, anyway? 2:47. Ahhhhhh!

When I finally do fall asleep, I won’t be able to wake up. The alarm goes off and I can’t get out of bed. Some mornings, it hurts to wake up. Especially if I forget which way I’m facing.

Little Richie on Family Matters may have been the worst case of tv growth. Not only did he gain ten years in two months, he also hit puberty and started dating. Now there’s a kid who started liking girls before sixth grade. Though he was probably 35 by the time he got there.

I don’t know that I’m reaching the sleep point as it happens, but I slowly fade out of consciousness. This would be wonderful if I knew it was there - I can imagine that if you were conscious of sleep, it would feel wonderful. But I try not to let myself realize I am falling asleep, since the second I’m awake enough to realize anything, I’m too awake to fall asleep anymore. And that’s another ten minutes of tired that I will never get back.

Maybe I should get up and write that column. If I could only find my desk.

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