Sunday, September 18, 2005

Unchain Me

I’m like the marshmallow Fluff of light sleepers—it takes two earplugs with the highest possible noise reducing power and, until recently, a sleep mask, just to keep me from floating off the bed, so lightly do I slumber. I can’t deny that I am more easily roused than others by the going-ons of the world outside my bedroom window. But really, no matter how deeply and hard they might typically sleep, is anyone humanly capable of sleeping through the sounds of Unchained Melody being blasted from a loudspeaker outside their apartment at 6:15 every single weekday morning?

As surely as lonely rivers flow to the sea to the sea, those lucky individuals residing on the campus of the Beijing Sports University can be certain that their weekdays will begin with an involuntary dose of the Righteous Brothers. I’m still having a hard time coming to terms with the fact that:
a) I am not hallucinating, or actually dreaming about Patrick and Demi every single morning. (I confess that I vaguely remember once having a very long and convoluted Ghost-themed dream so this did seem like a distinct possibility for the first couple days.)
b) The school essentially has a mandated wake-up time for all its residents.
c) This wake-up time is 6:15. 6:15 AM. 6:15 in the morning.
d) This wake-up time is 6:15 in the morning EVERY DAY.
e) No one else is complaining about this!

Can you ever, even in your wildest possible dreams (dreams of the sort that are induced by the infiltration of Unchained Melody, for example) imagine a college in the United States that would not be met with a massive student uprising if it tried something along these lines?

Perhaps the daily military training that male sophomores are required to participate in is the school’s means of preventing such a student revolt. Thanks to morning marching drills, I am often actually awoken just a little before 6:15 by a ten-hut chorus of Yi! Er! San! Si!, ensuring that I am sentient enough to fully savor my Righteous Brothers wake-up call a few minutes later. However, in the unlucky circumstance that I might have missed the fist stanza because I am having a hard time pulling myself away from my restless, noise-infected dreams (about Ritz crackers that will light up if you plug them into light sockets and hanging out with Nicky Hilton, to name a few), I never have to fear: I can make up for the missed stanza and hear the song in its entirety when it plays again at noon!

Yep. At noon. It’s lunchtime, you see, and some students might not have a watch or a stomach, so the school kindly reminds them that it is time to take a break and feed themselves with another round of Unchained Melody.

Thankfully, especially considering my proclivity towards ear worms, the school sticks to the instrumental version of the song. Still, it’s not a short song. And I don’t need the words to remind me that time goes by so slowly and time can mean so much. Seriously, it‘s a sentiment that never rang truer than it does at 6:15 on a Beijing morning.