Staying Up Late on Summer Nights
When you’re 12 years old, for most of your life you adhered to a bed time. During school nights, we’re talking 8-9 o’clock, during the summer 9-10 MAYBE 11 o’clock. There are some rare nights in between, but for the most part, that’s the formula. Your parents just want you in bed so you leave them the hell alone. But something happens when you turn 12. Summer vacation hits, and your parents GO TO BED BEFORE YOU. They’ll give you the ‘ole “don’t stay up too late” but we all know that’s just an invitation to watch the sun rise.
Most late summer nights consisted of watching television downstairs, far enough away from my parents bed room that I never woke them up. We live in a bi-level home, so you’d walk up steps to a porch to get to our front door, there was a landing at the door, then you’d walk up steps to get to the main floor, and downstairs to get to the lower floor, which was ground level (more on why that was important later) Our kitchen, was the first room you’d hit if you’d walk up the stairs. dining room and living room to right, and a hallway leading to our the main bathroom, my parents room, my sisters room and my teensy, tiny bedroom to the left.
Downstairs was our family room, my brothers bedroom, a powder room, the laundry room/toy and board game room, and that leads to the garage, which was split and turned into our computer room and junk room. All of these details are important. You’ll see!
Let’s look at a summer evening for RK at 12 years old (1994)
5:30pm- Probably outside hiking the fields behind our house. We had mapped out the area pretty well and had names for all the rough terrain. I knew it was time to come in for dinner, and mom was making BBQ grilled chicken, so don’t want to miss that.
6:30pm- Dinner was good and we watched some TV, probably “The Wonder Years” re-runs. Time to get back outside. We have about 90 minutes of sunlight, and there is plenty of time to play a game of horse.
8:30pm-It’s dark outside, and we’ve been playing on the swing set long enough, we’re covered in sweat because it’s a hot, muggy night on the northeast. We spend out final minutes outside catching lighting bugs (fireflies) before finally calling it and heading inside for the night.
10:00pm- When we came in, my parents were watching Naked Gun 33 ad 1/3 on pay per view, so we sat and watched it with them. I was excited because I knew we’d be seeing Forrest Gump at the drive-in next weekend, and I couldn’t wait for Flintstones to come out on VHS as that was the hot summer movie. The movie ends, my sister is already in bed, and my dad tells my brother and I that they’re going to bed and to “not stay up too late”
10:30pm-My brother immediately retreated to his room. He has a TV in there and was into radio’s and what not and was 14. He wanted nothing to do with me, so I was on my own for the rest of the night, just how I like it.
11:30- I made it up late enough for Dave Letterman. I never really go the jokes, but there was something awesome about watching a show you were never allowed to stay up and watch.
12:00pm- The Phillies are playing on the west coast and the game is on TV, so I put it on and zone out into my comic book collection. I’m laying on the floor on my back with my legs up against the wall because that’s just how I rolled. I was HUGE into the X-Men, and they were building toward the “Age of Apocalypse” storyline, but first, there was the “Child’s Play” crossover event which kept my attention.
1:00am- Time for a snack. As quietly as I possibly could, I’d sneak up to our kitchen. For some reason, at this hour, the kitchen is what can make or break your night. One small slip-up, and my mom wakes up, I’m stuck going to bed, but if I play my cards right, I’m back downstairs with a delicious snack. I opt for a Kool-aid burst, some Pringles Ridges, and a Hormel microwave bacon cheeseburger. These things tasted like cardboard, but I loved being able to make fast food in the microwave at 1am.
2:00am- The snack was a success and I didn’t wake a soul. Im downstairs watching TV, I’m tired and ready for bed, but I’m enthralled by the Ron Popiel Showtime Rotisserie oven informercial. At 2am, there really is nothing else anyone should be watching.
I wake up at 5:08 on the floor of our computer room, and realize the sun is coming up. I sneak up to bed before my parents realize I spent the entire night up doing absolutely nothing.
In a few years, the late night would become my domain, and it still is today. Enchantress reminded me of how the world smells after 11pm, when the temperature drops and the moisture in the air begins to fall. The sweet dewey smell can always take you back to those nights you wished would never end, and the summers that seemed to last forever.
What are some of your late night summer memories? Let me know in the comments, and we’ll talk tomorrow as the Rad Years Summer Vacation continues