Recently retired, the hippie-chondriac dusts cobwebs from his old high school yearbook.

A picture shows hair halfway down his back. The caption reads: “Most likely to be a mattress tester.”

“Weird,” he says, recalling a 40-year career in sales.

At his retirement party, he dressed as the comedian Gallagher who famously smashed watermelon with a sledgehammer. Only the hippie-chondriac used a sledge to smash his alarm clock.

Nearing age 70, he finds habits die hard. He still wakes at 5 each morning, like for work. Now, though, his commute is to the kitchen to brew coffee.

Nine is not his new midnight. He often stays up to 10.

When he wakes in the middle of the night, he switches on TV infomercials for such “must-haves” as the Thighmaster and the Peg Egg foot grater.

His neighbor, Bob, a fellow baby boomer, is also a light sleeper. Both men spent four decades in the anti-nap culture — “I could no more nap than Queen Elizabeth could do standup comedy,” the hippie-chondriac says, worried lack of sleep will make him sick and fat.

“If you see my light on,” he says, “come over and play board games.”

The hippie-chondriac especially wants to play a game he designed in the first years of retirement when he couldn’t figure out what to do with his new abundance of time.

“Bored the board game,” he says with a chuckle.

For now, though, he needs to learn to nap — to make up for spending wee hours with the foot grater.

He decides to study sleep. What better use for his time? Checking out cute girls in his yearbook and sleuthing on the internet to see how they look now?

He orders a stack of used books from an online store. He pours over half of them and gets Bob to check out the other half. Both men fall asleep.

“We may have found our solution,” Bob says, laughing.

The books, though, do provide nuggets of wisdom. The authors agree seven hours of sleep (or more) is the magic number. Less than five is the gateway to sick and fat.

“Sleep is your new job,” one author writes. “It will boost your immune system. Keep weight down. Lower risk of diabetes and heart disease. Reduce stress.”

“And the desire to smash alarm clocks,” the hippie-chondriac says.

The author also promises adequate sleep will improve mood and decision-making skills.

The hippie-chondriac tries an experiment.

If he gets six hours of sleep, he will take a one-hour nap. He might sleep. Or he might lie there, eyes closed, the whole 60 minutes.

The first “nap” he spends an hour thinking about the $753 million B-21 Raider nuclear stealth bomber and inflation reaching a 40-year high.

The smart phone alarm sounds. If the sledgehammer hadn’t been so far away, out in the garage, under a pile of used books ...

The hippie-chondriac rises. Even though it is the middle of the afternoon, he calls Bob. The men get together and play Bored. They almost make it to the end of the game without falling asleep.

Contact Jeff Petersen at

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