The Best of Andy Rooney

It isn't considered proper for a person to talk about the things he or she does well. No one wants to listen to someone blow his own horn. It is for other people to point out your strengths.

Having said that, though, I want to tell you about something I do exceedingly well. If there were some way of ranking the people who do it in order of their proficiency at it, I believe I'd be near the top of the list.

What I do so well is nap. There are few people I know who are as good nappers as I am. I have a couch in my office and I often close the door, take off my shoes and lie down. The duration of my nap time is seldom more than five minutes. An eight-minute nap would be like a night's sleep for me. I awake from a four-minute nap completely refreshed and ready to go again.

People who don't nap well miss one of life's great pleasures, and I think they realize this because they try to take out their disappointment over not being able to nap by making derogatory remarks about people who do nap. They assume a superior attitude that is completely unwarranted.

"You didn't hear it because you were asleep," Margie will say to me in a holier-than-thou tone of voice if I miss a little of the "PBS NewsHour."

Two drinks before dinner are nap-inducing, and I quite enjoy a little nap before going upstairs to bed.

Last Sunday, I made a three-hour drive from upstate New York down to the city, and I had to pull over twice and doze briefly because the sun was in my eyes. Like bourbon, a bad movie, a dull concert, or a treasurer's report, driving with the sun in my eyes puts me to sleep. I can napping in the car within 15 seconds of turning off the engine.

I got thinking about my talent for napping because of a great book someone sent me called "The Art of Napping." It was written by William Anthony, a professor at Boston University.

Anthony is a great advocate of the nap and defends nappers against their detractors. There are chapters in his little book called "The Future of Napping," "A National Sleep Debt," "The Cost Effectiveness of Napping," "Famous Nappers: Profiles in Napping" and "Advanced Nap Planning." The book offers a lot of definitions of things associated with napping:

Napkin: A napper's relatives.

Napnostic: A nonbeliever in the healing power of naps.

Snapper: A person who nags or snaps at a napper, often to blame for nappus interruptus.

Naphomaniac: A napper who overdoes a good thing.

The most encouraging thing in the book is Anthony's strong defense of people who nap. He goes so far as to argue in favor of the recreational nap -- taking a nap not because you're tired or sleepy but simply because napping is pleasant fun.

"The Art of Napping" has changed me from a secret napper to an outgoing, up-front napper. I no longer feel I have to steal a nap or hide the fact that I'm taking one. After reading Bill Anthony's book, I nap with confidence and pride in my expertise at doing it.

(This classic Andy Rooney column was originally published June 29, 1997.)

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