2 am

My favorite time is 2am. The sun has been down so long it’s almost been forgotten, and it’s not threatening to come back for a few more hours. The employed are asleep and the crazies are breaking into their cars. Everyone gets kicked out of bars. A feeling of calm desperation hits, the masks come off. You’re either drunk or tired enough to stop giving a shit about being cool, making impressions, or being `on’. Hair is messed, make-up is flaking off, the shirt’s unbuttoned, you’re slumped across a table. At 2am, some people have written the rest of the night off, wishing nothing more than instant teleportation into their beds. Others are pathetically trying to keep the evening going, laboring under the delusion that anyone needs to drink more after 2 in the morning.

At 2am, the moves contemplated upon all night must be made. Sleeping arrangements, at the back of everyone’s mind for the entire evening, are casually disguised as afterthoughts in hopes of either not having to drive home drunk, hopes of getting laid, or hopes of achieving both in one swift negotiation. If it’s another night of going home and jerking off, you’ve already assigned yourself to your fate and if sober enough, probably realize it is the superior alternative, even if you do hope for the 2am call waiting for you on the answering machine.

The 2 am phone call is a favorite of mine as well. It’s always exiting. Either something fun is still happening somewhere or a long lost friend is drunk and wants to talk to you. Both are fine by me. Unfortunately, since moving to the Pacific Time Zone most of my 2am calls are coming at 11pm, too early to effectively deal with a trashed old friend, and any 2am calls I would ever want to make would hit the East Coast around 5am, which is possibly the WORSE time to call anyone, or even be awake.

5am sucks because if you’re asleep, you definitely don’t want to wake up for anything short of moving from the path of an oncoming tornado, which is STILL a judgment call at that time of the morning. At 5am, the birds are singing and the sun is coming up. If you’re still awake, your next day is pretty much shot. Even if you can stand the noise of your neighbors who get up at 8am on Sundays (fucking bastards) and can somehow sleep until 1pm, you’re still gonna be tired all day, and a huge chunk tomorrow already gone. If you’re one of those poor bastards that has to get up at 5am to get to work, I feel for you. You should get a new job.

I like grocery shopping at 2am. Even though there’s only one register open and you have to weave in and out of the night stockers, it beats weaving around the normal crowd of jerks who shop during the day. It’s much more laid back. The night guys don’t have the normal managers breathing on them, and even if a manager is around, he’s so pissed at being there, he lets them get away with murder. Paper towel football, orange fights, open bags of snacks, you see it all. The customer service booth is dark; you’re lucky if anyone will even tell you what aisle the peanut butter is on. I like that. No bullshit politeness, no thinly veiled resentment. Just people doing a job at 2am.

At 2am, most of the neighborhood’s asleep. It’s quiet, except for a random bass blasting lowrider passing in front of my apartment, or the occasional drunken brawl one building over. Around here it cools down to about 65 at night. I open the windows, close my eyes, and listen to the blinds rattle against their frames. The ocean breeze washes me of whatever mental dirt still tries to bug me at 2 in the morning. 20 blocks from the beach is still close enough to get that good vacation smell. If I could freeze the moment I would, make it last for hours, maybe even a day.

Pretty soon a trillion screaming kids with high octane leafblowers will be chasing wounded pitbulls on the sidewalk outside, and my upstairs neighbor (whom I’ve never seen but assume resembles a walrus with sticks of dynamite on his feet by the amount of noise he makes) will start his Sweating to Techno Classics at 10,000 Decibels while Vacuuming aerobic workout. Fuck `em. If they wanna waste their 2am, I have no use for them. If they pick 8am for their triumph so be it. Maybe I’ve picked 2 precisely to avoid the types who get up at 8. All the better. More for me.