Yogi Berra once said, “I take a two hour nap from one to four.” Funny, but naps have gotten a bad rap lately, only appreciated by exhausted moms desperate for a break from fussy babies, or kindergarten teachers praying for an after-lunch moment of quiet.
I love naps. But one afternoon I neglected to close the bedroom door and was awakened by the sound of Mrs. Chatterbox talking to our son, CJ. In response to his questions I heard her say, “Dad? He’s taking a nap….No, he isn’t sick….Really, there isn’t anything wrong with him; he just likes to take naps.”
Another time my mother called after I’d dozed off. When I woke and came downstairs Mrs. C. said, “Your mother called and wanted to know where you were.”
“Did you tell her I was taking a nap?”
“I told her you’d gone on an errand.”
“Why didn’t you tell her the truth?”
“It was the middle of the day. I didn’t want her worrying about you.”
“Is that the real reason? Are you ashamed that I enjoy an afternoon nap?” I asked.
I was prepared to remind her that I usually rise early to go swimming and generally stay awake much later than she does in the evening, and I was shamefully eager to remind her that she often falls asleep on the couch during the afternoons. She was too smart to answer, but she’d clearly given her answer.
I was prompted to ask friends and acquaintances about their napping habits. You’d have thought I’d asked a roomful of guys to raise a hand if they had a small penis. I was treated to snickers and eye-rolling, and it was suggested that I should have my testosterone level checked, as if naps were somehow unmanly. No one would admit to taking regular afternoon snoozes, not even the wizened men I swim with.
I began wondering if I belonged to a little discussed minority—closet nappers—perhaps the last bastion of acceptable prejudice. I reflected on popular sayings that maligned me and my fellow nappers, such as the shame associated with being caught napping on the job. The media delights to show us disturbing pictures of Congressmen napping in the House Chamber, or Senators dozing off at hearings. And God help the pilot unnecessarily criticized for falling asleep at the controls, or the poor bus driver who decides to catch a few winks while driving a load of screaming kids home from school. Even someone as esteemed as Oliver Wendell Holmes demeaned himself by writing, “I don’t generally feel anything until noon, then it’s time for my nap.”
After much consideration I’ve decided to make a significant change in my life. In the afternoons I will not longer be taking naps. Naps are bad. They indicate laziness and sloth. Instead, I will endorse a less condemned pursuit. From this point forward I will partake of a revered activity endorsed by many cultures around the world. Instead of a nap, I will be taking a two hour afternoon siesta.
Please don’t call between one and four.