Part of the summer routine at our house back in the day was the time honored tradition of the afternoon nap. That glorious period of rest always came right after lunch. Well, let’s be honest, it was glorious to Mom but my brother and I didn’t think too much of it. It was something to endure more than enjoy. Afternoon nap time started from when I was 4 or 5 and continued until fifth or sixth grade. Somehow weekends were exempt; you see, Dad needed us to help with the weekend chores.
So promptly at noon, Mom would call us in from playing outside for lunch. After lunch and the obligatory clean up and washing of the dishes (who had a dishwasher back in those days) we were herded into our bedroom and told not to move for the next hour. It was sheer torture and should have been banned by the Geneva Conventions. I even tried that argument one time, which is how desperate we were.
The house became as quiet as a ghost for a little while. Heck, not just the house, the entire neighborhood was silent. There was not the sound of one kid running around his or her yard screaming like a banshee. The nap conspiracy was bigger than our household, it was a neighborhood pact. The coven of mom’s had it all worked out. “Let’s get the kids down after lunch.” They had it all worked out to the accuracy of a beach invasion; clocks synchronized, orders given. Threats of the consequence of non-compliance were issued, all was ready.
So, there we were, lying flat on our back, not even permitted to speak. The only thing moving was the warm summer air being sucked through the windows by the attic fan. I could hear the noise that the seam in the fan belt made as it ran around the pulleys on the motor. “Snerk, Snerk Snerk”, it seemed that there was one “snerk” per second and I would count them. It took forever to reach 60 “snerks” indicating that another minute had passed. It was too much to bear! That sixty seconds seemed like sixty minutes. We are never gonna get out of here. The small bead of perspiration that formed on my forehead in the summer heat finally cascaded into my right eye. “Perfect!” I thought, “Just perfect! What next?“
My eyes would trace around the small crack in the plaster ceiling over and over again. These were the days before sheetrock and those small cracks were common. They gave the room some character, much more interesting than the pristine perfection of today’s ceilings. “It just isn’t fair”, my mind rebelled. After we don’t take naps at school, well at least we didn’t take naps at school after kindergarten! Why do we have to take them during the summer? It must be some sort of plot. Yes, that’s it! All the parents and the kindergarten teachers have cooked up some sort of nefarious plot to mind control the kids. Make them take a nap!
As I grew older and wiser, the plot was finally exposed. It seems that Moms and kindergarten teachers needed their own break from the herd of wild animals that were in their charge. The universal solution was the nap. The “nap” solution that was almost torture to the kids made it possible for the Moms and teachers of this world to survive. Not long after this, I was going “nap-less.”
So here I sit on a lazy Sunday afternoon in my air conditioned studio, looking out the window at my verdant front yard, remembering the humidity and quiet peace of those summer afternoon naps. They no longer seem like torture, they seem to beckon me to relax. I think I might just take some time and do just that. At least now, there will not be a bead of sweat on my forehead. Oh MY!