Going to sleep is something you’ll do a lot of. Practically every day. Except when you go backpacking across Europe – assuming you’ll be lucky enough to get to do that. I wasn’t. By the time my friends went traipsing across the Continent my family was poor and I had to paint houses, which was all fine and good. I wasn’t jealous of my friends or anything. They probably all caught some VD, which they deserved.

I’ll discuss VD’s another time.

The point is that we all sleep a lot – some more than others, which brings up an even bigger point. If you learn nothing else from this memo, learn that there is a huge range of normal in our species. Normal is a broad spectrum in humans. If you’re concerned that you’re not normal, you are. Consider the size of the universe and you’ll feel fine.  

Some people sleep ten or even twelve hours a day, while others sleep 4 or possibly even 2 hours. The extremes are extreme, of course, but it’s a range and it happens. In other words, you’re fine. Probably.

When I was your age[1], I listened to Simon and Garfunkel every night as I went to sleep.

Simon and Garfunkel was a popular musical duo in the 1960’s, which was a tumultuous time in America. We went from being modern to being postmodern, which is all a bunch of crap. Postmodernism is a word that some people made up to prove how much more special they were than their parents. You’ll probably come up with something similar. But nothing really changed in the 1960’s. Again, I’m talking about the broad spectrum here. Everyone back then wanted to have sex with everyone else. But that has always been true. Always. For a million years. But in the 1960’s, special white Americans started wanting to have sex with everyone all over the world – Asians and Latin Americans and Africans. Everyone. Except some Pacific Islanders, who hadn’t yet learned to honor their folk traditions by writing about them in English.

By the way, it’s normal to want to have sex with someone. Particularly once you’re happily married.

I wasn’t alive in the 1960’s, but I still wanted to have sex with women from other cultures. And look! You’re mother is Iranian, so it all worked out. You have Simon and Garfunkel to thank for that.

Anyway. I listened to their album every night when I was twelve. I had it on tape. I’ll discuss tapes another time. I would rewind the song Bridge Over Troubled Water over and over and over. Certain scary, sad things were happening in my house back then – all of which, it turns out, are unfortunately within that broad spectrum of normal – and that song, Bridge Over Troubled Water, comforted me as I went to sleep.

Art Garfunkel sings that song, but for some reason I thought Murphy Brown sang it.

Murphy Brown was the title character of a sitcom that ran from 1988 until 1998. Murphy Brown, played by Candace Bergen, was a middle-aged recovering alcoholic TV journalist who returned to her job after a stay at the Betty Ford clinic only to find that her knew producer was a brainy wiz-kid half her age. Poor Miles. He never stood a chance.

I was in love with Murphy Brown. And because I thought she sang Bridge Over Troubled Water, every night as I drifted off to sleep, I imagined she was singing it to me.

I was a fat, although very tan, 12 year old, and I was in love with a middle-aged recovering alcoholic. For what it’s worth, Candace Bergen was one of the most beautiful women in Hollywood in her day, although she was never physically my type. I prefer darker women from other cultures, like Iran or Mexico, because I am a postmodernist.

Anyway. Here’s the thing about going to sleep: it’s usually dark and silent, and you’re usually alone. And if you can’t sleep right away you’re left to think about your life, your day, even if you’re only 12. And if your life is sad and scary just then, as sometimes it will be (I’m so sorry), then going to sleep will also feel sad and scary and lonesome. I know that for certain, because when I was a fat, albeit tan, 12 year old I felt sad and scared but not lonesome because I had Murphy Brown.  

Kansas, where I grew up, is so dark at night. It’s hard to describe except to say it’s a dark that you can’t even imagine, not even when you’re in it. There’s no light but there are stars. I’d stare out my window at night, into that terrible darkness, up at the sky, and as Murphy Brown sang to me, I’d quietly slip away into the universe.

I hope you don’t have to do that. I hope I can send you back packing through Europe. I hope I can show you the amazing darkness of Kansas. I hope you invent a word that makes you more special than me. I hope you know that when you feel scared and sad, I’ll be there to sing you to sleep.  

[1] Assuming you’re twelve as you read this


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