What do you do at four in the morning when you can't sleep? Get up and make a cup of coffee? Turn on the tv? Lay in bed and listen to the tickticktick in your head? I wish I had that luxury. What I hear (until the birds come out) is the remnants of a Rob Zombie concert at least five years in the past that makes my brain think I am sleeping next to a low roaring ocean. It was Ozzy, and Priest, and (my personal favorite of the day) Rob Zombie and it was a good ninety degrees out. It was one of those shows with a million bands, scorching sun and blacktop. I remember wondering how cool the kids wearing black denim accessorised by silver chains thought they looked when the rest of us took cover under the tiniest slice of shade. I don't begrudge Mr. Zombie (if that is his real name!) my hearing, not even on a beautiful May 1st morning like this in Western New York.
I started to hear the birds around five and then I noticed how light it was getting. Definitely not nighttime anymore. I left the windows open last night and had gone outside several times to do what guys and dogs sometimes go outside in the middle of the night to do: pee. The moon was full, the stars were bright, and the clouds were scarce. It was beautifully warm out. Eventually I settled down on the couch and hugged my pillow and thought of a girl I used to know. The thoughts and stress that had been banging around my head slowly subsided and I finally relaxed and let go of my awakened state. When I opened my eyes again it was 7:20 and an absolutely beautiful morning. Sometimes I don't mind starting my day at four o'clock. It is crazy early when you have no reason to be up but after lying in bed for an hour what the heck is the difference? But not this day. This day I went back to sleep and woke up thinking about pancakes.
Hunter S. Thompson wrote a great piece about breakfast, what he called his psychic anchor of the day. He had been invited to the White House for breakfast by Jimmy Carter, a meal that, for Hunter, had a measure of solemnity to it. To wit:
"I like to eat breakfast alone, and almost never before noon. Breakfast is a personal ritual that can only be properly observed alone, and in a spirit of genuine excess. The food factor should always be massive: four Bloody Marys, two grapefruits, a pot of coffee, Rangoon crepes, a half-pound either of sausage, bacon or corned beef hash with diced chilies, a Spanish omelette or eggs Benedict, a quart of milk, a chopped lemon for random seasoning, and something like a slice of key lime pie, and two margaritas...for dessert. All of which should be dealt with outside, in the warmth of a hot sun, and preferably stone naked."
That is a mighty fine breakfast, more of a Las Vegas breakfast, but mighty fine indeed. I'm gonna have to try the diced chilies in the corned beef hash. Maybe the best breakfast I ever had was when me and my pal Ralph decided to drive to the ocean one crazy summer morning. We stopped at a rustic motel for the night (I say rustic, Ralph says rat-trap) and the next morning I drank a beer under the cool of a pine tree, my elbows leaning on the roof of the car, in a state of wonderment that I was waking up in the Adirondack Mountains. We drove into Lake Placid and had breakfast on a deck overlooking the lake. I don't recall what I had but for sure it didn't matter. It was a vacation breakfast and I was eating it outside.
These are the things I think about when I am up at four a.m. I finally got around to eating four eggs, sausage, corned beef hash, Simply Potatoes homefries and a double espresso in that cool coffee mug. And now I'm hungry again.