Night owls rule, morning people yawn

By Jeff Petersen, The Observer April 12, 2013 08:51 am

Google “famous night owls” and you’ll come up with an impressive list that includes Winston Churchill, Elvis Presley, Hunter S. Thompson and Adolph Hitler.

Google “famous morning people” and you’ll get nobody. 

Rack your brain and you’ll come up with TV morning program luminaries like Matt Lauer, Willard Scott as well as about every CEO that put a mirror-like shine on his or her shoes.

Benjamin Franklin, too. He was famous for rising at 5 a.m. and asking himself, “What good can I do today?”

My dad never got famous, but he would beat up roosters. Well, not physically, Feathers didn’t fly every morning at 4:30 a.m. 

Dad, though, was ready to go at hours other people would consider obscene. When he was at church camp, or traveling with another couple, he would go around rousting people who previously had considered themselves “morning people” and encourage them not to waste the best part of the day.

Us kids were no exception. On the ranch, there was always wood to split and cows and hogs to be fed. Dad would let us “sleep in” until 6 a.m. and then come banging on our door. It was a rude awakening.

If my mom slept until 6:30 a.m., I thought she was a lollygagger. Boy, I needed to experience more of the greater world before I became the judge and jury. Mom would get up and fix breakfast — usually one egg, over hard, with a bowl of mush on the side. The oatmeal generally came from a box of Zoom cereal, which I loved because if you accumulated enough boxtops, you could send off for an autographed baseball glove. Eventually, after eating approximately 799 bowls of Zoom, I got a glove autographed by Dick McAulliffe, a career .247-hitting second baseman for the Detroit Tigers, and a three-time all-star.

From then on, I was a fan of obscure heroes. Even to this day, I like off-the-beaten-track books, movie stars and musical groups like Umphrey’s McGee, and it feels fun to accidentally discover them and be a fan of people who are unaccustomed to having fans.

I don’t know if McAuliffe is a morning person, but I know in night games he hit like one.

My first wife, Tina, was a night person, although she could go to work at sunrise. She attended night meetings as a reporter, and so, by necessity, was both a night and a morning person.

After Tina died, in 2007, at age 48 of complications of diabetes, I got remarried to Teri, a card-carrying night person. I struggle to stay up. Often, I am groggy while she is going strong, ready to watch the “Insanely Late Show” or 30-minute ads for kitchen knives.

If Dad were still alive — he died in 1997 of multiple myeloma — he’d say Teri and I are wasting the best part of the day. But, with all due respect, maybe he needed to experience what night people experience before he became judge and jury.

No matter. Today, because of the way I was raised, and because of job demands, I am a sunrise connoisseur. And because I am married to Teri, I am also a sunset connoisseur. I love color. I wouldn’t have it any other way.