After making my way through the all too short three seasons of Arrested Development on DVD backwards, forwards, forwards, forwards, backwards and then forwards again, I’ve decided maybe it’s time to move onto something else for my sleepy-time television watching needs.
For the better part of my life, I’ve had trouble sleeping. I never slept well as a child. I used to stay up until three in the morning and then have to wake up at seven and go to school. To this day, I think of anything before 8:30 a.m. as “too fucking early”—and that’s a direct quote. In the last year, apart from one or two obligations, I can count the number of times I’ve been up before eight on one hand. And more than liking it that way, I need it that way. Most days, I’m human only on the level of technicality—the three percent of my DNA not shared with apes, etc.—but when I don’t sleep, I can’t even keep up the pretense. It’s a sad sight.
To the considerable annoyance of my wife, I’ve been falling asleep with the television on for the entire duration of our relationship. Actually, much longer. I got a TV in my bedroom as a present for my 10th birthday, and even before then, I spent most nights on the couch running through the later hours of the Nick At Nite programming schedule. When it was videotapes, I watched videotapes. Star Wars, sundry Batman movies, Fargo. Later, it was DVDs, and because I have neither the money to invest nor the interest in repopulating my entire collection, DVDs it has remained, despite how much the universe tells me I now need a Blu-ray player or a 3-D whatever.
I’ve run a gamut over the last decade from American Psycho and Chris Rock: Bigger And Blacker when the player was new to The Big Lebowski and Anchorman, and just this last week, I decided to embark on a venture I’ve only completed once before: The complete 14-disc Monty Python’s Flying Circus box set. One episode at a time, I’ll make my way through the entire show.
Like I say, I’ve done it once before—but only once.
It’s a mountain of a program. I think I’m up to it, but the prospect of 14 discs and the fact that in the last week I’ve only made it through the first one means I need to be ready to face failure in the form of my own easily-distracted mentality. Halfway through, or even before that—well before John Cleese leaves and the show really jumps the shark—I might have to say screw it and move onto something else.
What’s really messed up about it is that the prospect feels like failure to me. Like it matters, right? Like if I don’t make it through Monty Python, Michael Palin is going to show up at my house and tell me in his proper British adventurer’s voice that he’s disappointed in me and I should have done better. Like I’m going to make Eric Idle sad?
Yeah, I know World War III is basically happening right now even though no one’s calling it that (I think Iran would have to get involved before they did, or Israel, or both), but nope, at around 2:00 a.m. on a Monday morning, that’s where my head is. Lest the disembodied spirit of Graham Chapman haunt my dreams in his high-pitched “I don’t like spam!” voice. Lest some completely arbitrary goal I’ve set for myself go unfulfilled.
To be honest, I don’t know what’s more exhausting, not sleeping or the anxiety about not sleeping. Either way, if 14 discs of Monty Python’s Flying Circus is going to get me through that, then so be it. I’ll hold out for as long as I can, and the rest will just have to be what it is.