Sunday, 2 November 2008

Wabbing, boondoggling and Sunday-night insomnia

Everyone has their best and worst day of the week. Least favourite in the western world must be Monday – the deathly beginning of the work-week grind, after two glorious days of late nights, sleeping in and doing whatever you want.

Tuesday is something of a ‘nothing’ day – it’s not as bad as Monday, sure, but it’s just kind of nowhere: too close to the beginning of the week to be considered in a favourable light, too far from the weekend ditto.

In South Africa (and perhaps elsewhere?) Wednesday is known as ‘the little weekend’. After three full days of early-morning rising, dedicated daytime labour and evening sobriety, and with the weekend almost in sight, the wheels tend to fall off on Wednesday evenings.

Which usually means Thursday is a ‘black dog’ day – hungover and difficult, characterised by nafi-ness and wabbing (nafi = no amibition, f*kall inclination; wab = work avoidance behaviour).

But that’s okay, because Thursday precedes Friday, which means it’s only one step to the last working day of the week and… freedom! In Cape Town, especially, Friday ‘evening’ rush-hour traffic starts at lunchtime – no-one bothers to work a full Friday; and if they do stay in the office until 5pm, they’re boondoggling. (boondoggling = moving pieces of paper around in order to look busy.)

When I was younger, the very fact that it was Friday was all the excuse we needed to go out and get thoroughly plastered. A kind of hysteria set in and lasted, usually, until the early – and sometimes late – hours of Saturday morning. Which meant that Saturday, lovely day though it was, was reserved for nursing hangovers over long, lazy lunches with friends or going to movies.

Now that we’re older, Friday evening is more for kicking back and relaxing. People who have dinner parties on Friday nights are seen as a tad more adventurous than is deemed strictly necessary – everyone’s too busy getting over the stress of their working week to let their hair down, and use Fridays to recover before the socialising that Saturday brings.

So Saturdays are fabulous no matter how you look at them – whether you’re lying in bed eating chicken tikka to try and smother a hangover, or doing some rudimentary gardening or other household chore prior to showering, primping and getting ready to have fun.

Which brings us to Sunday. For me, it’s the one day of the week that’s divided very clearly into divine and dreadful.

Sunday morning and early afternoon, divine: wake late; have a full cooked breakfast (in our family, the only day we do this); read the Sunday newspapers (fab junk food for the brain); often prepare for lunch with friends (in winter, round the fire; in summer, on the verandah); have lunch with friends (and lots of wine), etc.

Sunday late afternoon and evening, dreadful: prepare for the week ahead. If you’ve got kids, this means locating (and, if you’ve squandered your weekend on leisure, like most of us, laundering) school uniforms, checking homework and presiding over last-minute amendments to projects (or, if your kid has been as profligate as you with Friday and Saturday, sometimes the whole damned things), finding the readies to make dinner in a kitchen all but depleted of foodstuffs, etc.

And then there’s getting through Sunday nights. In my family of origin – ie, the one I grew up in – Sunday nights were always bleak. Firstly, my parents were usually fabulously pissed, having spent the afternoon entertaining their friends, and wanted as little to do with their four offspring as was humanly possible; this meant throwing together some comestibles (usually something weird and badly cooked by my father – pancakes blackened on the bottom, say, or scrambled eggs that were mostly water), then hot-footing it upstairs to their own private wing. And, secondly, we were expressly banned from our parents’ private wing on Sunday nights unless we were actually dying; I suspect this was because they wanted to have uninterrupted, wild, drunken Sunday-night sex.

Incidentally, I suspect that my parents – who were, to put it mildly, godless – insisted that all four of us go to Sunday School every Sunday morning without fail (unless, as above, we were actually dying) because they wanted to have uninterrupted, sensible, sober Sunday-morning sex as well.

Anyway, so for me Sunday nights aren’t much fun. I don’t know how much of this has to do with the subconscious ickyness of imagining my parents getting it on, but I suspect not that much – because a lot of the people I’ve straw-polled about Sunday nights also experience them as bleak.

There’s a phenomenon known as ‘Sunday night insomnia’ which the experts say has to do with how your body-clock gets thrown out by irregular Friday-night and Saturday-night sleep patterns (caused by late-night jolling). But this doesn’t explain why, even when I get to bed at a reasonable hour, and sober, on Friday and Saturday nights (and this does happen – okay, not often, but still), Sunday nights remain a real challenge for getting proper shut-eye.

But regardless of the quality of the sleep you get on Sunday night, all too soon it’s Monday. And the whole cycle begins again.

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