This column originally appeared in the Daily Herald and the News Daily on October 23, 2003. Desperate to muse about the oncoming sun-drain that will sicken us this weekend, I decided that to write anything new would just be ripping myself off. I've made only a few minor changes, including that date that all this madness will end on.
Hide the razor blades for the hour of the dark beast is nigh.
Daylight Saving Time will retire on its annual leave this Sunday and temporarily take my sanity with it. I quake with anticipation against the horror of the light's absence. Drag me to the bathtub now while I am still of sound mind and body!
It is unavoidable. The dark hour rolls to shore with the destructive conviction of the Exxon Valdez. It leaves a plume of blackness in its wake and us flapping about, helplessly drenched in a hopeless slick of despair. There are no skim lines or suited EPA scientists to hose my mottled feathers.
The change has always affected me terribly. Boredom, depression, malaiseé oh the endless malaiseé
Sands from the hourglass drip-drop darkness on my grayed-out forehead in a fourth dimensional water torture. We are pawns in Time's game. Devalued and sacrificed to maneuver toward the future.
To Benjamin Franklin we bestow our thanks for this pestilence: an idea born from the need to milk more light for the farming day.
We shift the daylight from our early morning hours to the more productive evening ones. Fault lines erupt when the shift is reversed. Volcanic pressure gives as our need for light slides beneath the unrelenting force of the clock's decree:
WHEREAS: Daylight Saving Time has ended and humans dependent on hourly schedules and bound to habits shall forfeit an hour of daylight despite already waning seasonal supplies.
Self-described experts refer to this condition of apocalyptic loathing as Seasonal Affective Disorder. Listed symptoms include clinical terms such as depressed mood, fatigue, increased sleep time and weight gain.
Consider the following a more accurate description: a destitute existence in a forsaken dark land with temporary bouts of murderous rage.
Falling short of a clinically diagnosed condition grants you access to a theme park known as the “Winter Doldrums.” Here we see little Johnny licking an unflavored snow cone and begging his parents to let him ride the Slow Sad Train to Nowhereville. The pipe organ on the carousel plays a comically slow song out of tune and the ride creeps around its monotonous circle backwards. Cotton candy here is colorless and the lines coil around themselves, intestine-like, for hours and hours.
One solution to deflect this near-death condition is to undergo light therapy. Although this sounds like the shameless marketing invention of a Caribbean travel agency, there is slightly more to it than that.
Doctors can analyze your sleep patterns and prescribe timed intervals of light from special bulbs to raise melatonin levels, which can be linked to seratonin levels in the brain that affect mood. The over-the-counter version of this procedure is called a tanning bed.
Confidence in my masculinity allows me to break from our culture's stigmas and share the fact that during the winter months this columnist has frequented a house of tanning. Not only am I unapologetic for my discretions, but I pledge to continue this behavior in the months to come. Maybe one day men will be able to enjoy these services free of the guilt and shame that weigh down so heavily on me and my fellow pioneers.
When the black cloak of late autumn falls upon me I will shed my clothes and seek refuge in a plastic shield of hot blue light. Laying flat on my back I'll stare up at the glowing beams of hope through fitted goggles and hold my breath, dreaming. Sustaining myself until this madness retreats to the hole from whence it crawled on the glorious day of April 2, 2006.
Rob Felt is the photographer for the Daily Herald. He can be reached at (770) 957-9161 or firstname.lastname@example.org .