If I close up shop (and by “close up shop” I mean turn off my computer) by 8 o’clock in the evening, then I know I’ll be getting to bed on time. There’s a few dicey hours that follow, where I may or may not be able to peel myself away from my monitor in a timely manner, but if I’m still on my computer after 10, I’ve officially lost the ability to make myself pack it in. I’ll sit there mindlessly for hours, glancing with ever more urgent guilt at the clock as the night progresses; it wouldn’t feel so wasteful if I was doing something productive, like sacrificing sleep for writing, but I never am.
Which is how I came to be watching black and white episodes of “What’s My Line?” on YouTube at half past 1 last night. “What’s My Line?” was a game show back in the 50s/early 60s, where a panel of four judges would essentially have to play 20 questions to figure out what a person’s line of work was. The show would flash the occupation on the screen for the audience, and the judges were allowed only 10 “no’s” when asking questions, earning the contestant up to $50. One contestant was a very old, grandmotherly lady who embroidered blankets for elephants, and “Do you train these animals?” (as they started to hone in on her occupation), got a quavering, “I used to.” The host, John Daly, laughed and translated that to a “no,” putting another $5 on the scoreboard.
Here’s one such example of the addictive show, which is also an excellent showcase of a time period of charmingly polite manners:
As I was watching these episodes (each section is a deceptive 3-10 minutes, meaning it’s really easy to consume a lot of them at once without realizing how much time you’ve lost), it began niggling at me that I recognized this somehow, though I knew I’d never seen it before. About an hour later, it struck me:
I finally get that reference. I finally get that it is a reference.
(So I ended up feeling accomplished last night after all.)
As to how I finally convinced myself to go bed, the bugs plaguing my apartment finally drove me to it. I live next door to a creek/ditch, and over the past few weeks I’ve been quietly invaded by mosquitoes and tiny swarms of miniscule gnats. These things could make their home on the head of a pin, but they like to spend their evenings – once all the rest of the lights in the house are off – dive bombing my computer screen.
Last night, one flew right into my eye. By time I fished it out (blinking furiously and hoping it hadn’t somehow destroyed my retina), I found that it had actually drowned in my eye boogers. And that’s how I got off one of my YouTube kicks at ten after two in the morning.
As a side note, every morning there’s a new batch of their corpses littering my sink. I’m not sure why or how they’re suiciding there, but it’s become something of a popular place to die. A gnat graveyard; only slightly less impressive than an elephant one.