Wednesday, April 9, 2008
At the outset of a recent sleepless night, I suddenly recalled Cal, Seth Rogen’s character in The 40 Year Old Virgin. He sponsored an ex nihilo appreciation for sedative subversion, demarcating downers’ rightful station in silver screen mythos.
[Click here for YouTube clip]
“You know what's a fun game?” he offered the virginal Andy (Steve Carrell), poised to lay down the IQ.
“You take three Excedrin PMs and you see if you could whack off before you fall asleep.
You always win, is the best part about the game.”
Earnestly, perhaps too earnestly, Cal litigated for the pseudo ne’er-do-wells, the indulgent but not quite objectionable among us. In Knocked Up and, more emphatically, in Superbad, Rogen’s merry men continued to make the mediocre American more sexy, couching him/her (mostly him) in a benign, endearing framework. Rogen’s cadre helped create the comedic middle class, a race of casually self-deprecating, white, not so poor, not overly privileged smartasses. People, in other words, with empty pools in the backyard and boozy fraternity memberships.
Average becomes vogue.
And so it was that I, an average white male, popped two sleeping pills and tried not to summarily pleasure myself, but to make it through an entire episode of Top Chef. Saddled with an inane, droning insomnia, I have an emergency stash of saccharine grape flavored sleep-well tablets that work every other night. Since I can’t remember the cycle, I am often surprised by being laid pathetically low or remaining curiously unaffected.
On this particular night, Cal’s game dogmatized the evening: Get in sweats. Brush teeth. Set alarm on phone. Plug in laptop. Take sleeping pills. Wait 5 minutes. Pour three fingers of Jameson. Put on Top Chef. Await destiny.
Somewhere in the middle of an apple-brie flambé, concentration became a chore. Jameson emptied, I guessed, with incipient gratitude, that the pills were going to stymie the string of insomnia-riddled nights.
I was wrong.
In the absurd throes of medicated sleep deprivation, the battle for everlasting wakefulness launched its opening salvo on my couch. Accustomed as I was to sleeplessness, my survival instinct engaged as soon as the first wave of numbness careened down my being. I memorized recipes, formulated a pneumonic to remember the chefs’ names, and even started Googling ingredients. Anything to keep my mind alert, I told myself—anything to ward off the frightful specter of sleep.
A few more hours passed, enough time that I could have won Cal’s game many times over were I not preoccupied with all things trivial—arcane break dancing contests, environmentalist poetry, old NY Rangers highlights from when they won the Cup. Only in abject exhaustion does one encounter the Internet in its manifest function, its nimbus in the dark: the definitive portal to infinite uselessness.
I begrudgingly yielded to sleep after sunup and awoke for class two hours later, only to vouchsafe the details of my sleeping troubles to a relentless classmate who wanted to know why I was so tired. I explained about Padma Lakshmi, Jameson, selectively effective sleep aids, and all the rest.
She looked at me, incredulous, and asked, “Really? That’s what you were up so late doing?”
“No,” I said. “It really has to do with Seth Rogen and a fun masturbation game, and that’s all I’m going to say.”
Stay Satisfied, Seth