I miss when pulling an all-nighter was a voluntary decision. I was always the last one awake at childhood sleepovers, an ability I took great pride in. When I closed my eyelids and informed my friends I was "resting my eyes," I ACTUALLY WAS. Unlike them. Liars.
I started to rethink out-awaking my peers the night they all fell asleep during Movie One. The girl hosting the slumber party had picked out two movies for us to watch that night, the second one being a film I had never seen before. As their snores accompanied "Under the Sea," I decided to put Ariel back in her box (VHS days, kids) and pop in Movie Two. By the end of it, I was in tears.
WHO CHOOSES TO WATCH OLD YELLER AT A SLEEPOVER?
A demented first-grade-fuck, that's who.
After The Midnight Rabies incident, I came to the conclusion that sleep protects you from lots of things. Like witnessing murder among a pool of unconscious eight-year-olds. But now, fourteen years later, all-nighters are mandatory.
It was the Wednesday night before my last day of exams. Due to a pending fear of failure, I decided that the best thing to do was stay up all night studying until my first exam. I began to regret this around seven in the morning when I reevaluated my exam schedule for the day.
First Exam - 8:00am - 10:00am
Second Exam - 11:00am - 1:00pm
Third Exam - 2:00pm - 4:00pm
Not only were ALL of my exams scheduled on the same day, but they were also scheduled back-to-back. While I had been cramming for hours, the only information that was going through my head at this moment was, Coffee coffee coffee coffee coffee coffee coffee...
With seven questions left on my first exam, I suddenly realize how quiet it had become. My teacher sat in front of me, but I could not hear the incessant scratching of pencils the room had been filled with before. I look up from the front row I was seated in and turned around. I was the only person there, all except for a friend seated beside me.
"I'll wait till you finish," he said.
I start scribbling violently, embarrassed that I had become the Lone Ranger of Literary Analysis. After finishing, my friend and I head to our advisor's office to ask about the fall schedule. I sit down to talk with the head of the English department, and then remember that I have another exam in half an hour.
"What did you want to talk to me about?" the professor asks.
"Well, actually, I can't talk right now," I say, still seated in his office. Once I realized how retarded I must have seemed at this moment, having come into his office just to tell him I can't talk right now, I get up.
"Can I have some candy though?" I ask as I eye his bowl of treats. There's always time for candy.
"Sure, I'm always curious to see whether students choose the Smarties or the Dum-Dums."
"Dum-Dums!" I exclaim, not catching on to his implication in the least bit. He starts laughing.
"What?" I ask, delirious.
"SMART-ies...DUMB-Dums..." my friend slowly explains.
I pause, embarrassed that my half-conscious-self had not caught on to this earlier.
"LOOK IT'S BEEN A LONG DAY!" I angrily yell as I flee the office. Once I was free of that humiliation, I realize how stupid my exiting line had been. "It's been a long day?" It was ten in the morning. Yes, I had been up all night, but they didn't know this. From their perspective, I considered two hours to be "a long day" worthy of shouting and then running away about.
I arrive five minutes late to my second exam only to find that every single desk is occupied. Not wanting to make a scene, I walked straight to the back of the room and sat on the floor. After seeing that I could not use my leg as a desk, I laid down. The floor was much easier to write on.
"Do you want a desk?" a fellow student said to me as I lie on my stomach.
"Uh, sure, if you can find one..." I say.
He gets up, walks to the door I had just come through, and grabs a desk that was sitting right in front of the room. Somehow, I had missed this.
"Uh...thanks. I didn't...see it..."
GREAT. NOW I'M THE WEIRDO IN THE CORNER WHO IS EITHER PARTIALLY BLIND OR A PRODUCT OF INCEST.
Once I start writing, my hand begins to cramp up. Two tests in a row is a guaranteed way to get carpel tunnel, not that anyone took this into consideration when they made my exam schedule. It's fine, really. Who needs hands?
I'm not wearing my watch, so I have no idea what time it is. I look up to ask my professor, when I notice that I am again the only one left in the classroom.
"Am I taking too long?" I ask her.
"No, you still have time left," she smiles.
I continue writing and after an unknown amount of minutes, I rise from my seat and hand her my test. I exit the classroom and check the clock. It's 2:30pm. I was in there THIRTY MINUTES after the exam was supposed to end.
The fatigue is definitely hitting me as I snail my way to my third and last exam, one of which I'm also late to. Punctuality is for pansies. Or for people who sleep. By the time this one ends, my entire arm is in pain all the way up to my neck. This cramping lasts until the next morning, transforming it from my arm to "My Exam Arm." There's a difference. Exam Arms are useless once they've been used.
After the day I had been waiting for the entire semester, I was too tired to even rejoice. Or stand. Or do anything, really. I believe I sat in an armchair for two hours wondering what to with myself. Watch the ceiling fan? Blink? Stare at my computer?
Instead, I brewed some more coffee. At least I didn't have to watch Old Yeller.