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Inappropriate napping: A public menace

I've never cared for coffee, which contains far more caffeine than cola, but I like getting as hyped up on stimulants as legally possible. As a result, I consume almost as much Diet Pepsi as my dad consumes regular Pepsi.

And while I live in another state half the year, I insist (for reasons my therapist and I are trying to work out) on buying all of my soda in New York - so, considering that my budget is already stretched to its limits, a tax on diet soda would hamper my ability to stay awake for days at a time watching music videos from the mid-1990s on YouTube.

But enough about controversial soda-tax proposals. The point I've been trying to get to (in the most convoluted, illogical way possible) is that despite all the caffeine I consume, and despite my ability to stay awake for hundreds of hours straight when not doing anything productive, I have an irritating habit of falling asleep whenever I have work to do.

It's not that I suffer from narcolepsy - it's that my natural response to unpleasant tasks (like writing a 20-page paper about Ralph Waldo Emerson's poetry, for instance, or getting out of bed in the morning) is to slip into unconsciousness, no matter how wired I am. And my bouts of escapist slumber aren't limited to the comfort of my room.

I've passed out at kitchen tables, in library carrels, and - as a graduate student - in the office I share with nine/ten other people. More than once, I've awoken with a start - facedown on a desk littered with empty Diet Pepsi bottles, a sheet of paper glued to my cheek with drool - to find my office lousy with other grad students, all acting like they didn't hear me muttering lines from It's a Wonderful Life in my sleep.

But even such humiliating moments haven't cured me of my problem. In fact, such moments exacerbate the problem, because, in order to escape the humiliation, I simply fall back asleep.

The only thing that might cure me would be if the government passed a "napping in inappropriate places at inappropriate times" tax. Because if there's one thing that's been proven to rid people of their vices again and again, it's putting a tax on - or, even better, outlawing - those vices.

Dan Leonidas makes shallow observations. He can be reached at dpleonidas@yahoo.com or myspace.com/lastminuteconcerns.

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