Monday, October 12, 2015

Ask RomanHans

Dear RomanHans,

My grandparents recently came to live with us, and I noticed something odd. Roman, they don't seem to sleep. When I went to bed they were playing Scrabble, and when I woke up Granddad was mowing the lawn and Grandma was making meatballs. Why don't old people sleep?

Anissa Brown
Age eight

Dear Anissa,

Sleep performs an integral function for humans: it gives the body time to repair. During the day, your muscles break down, your brain overheats, your blood vessels swell. At night, then, all that damage has to be undone. All unnecessary movement is halted so the body can repair itself.

Think of it as your own personal NASCAR pit crew. The minute you fall asleep, dozens of guys are dispatched to perform specific functions integral to successful completion of your next lap. Some restock the shelves of the reproductive systems: if you're a girl, you might have lost an egg, and if you're a boy, there's the stress caused by thirty-eight hardons. Some rush needed nutrients to the hair follicles so hair will keep coming out in attractive colors. Some manufacture new brain cells so your reasoning and storage systems can continue to function. While your body isn't quite up to NASCAR speed, some eight hours later all the work will be finished, and you'll wake up refreshed while your pit crew settles down for a nap.

Once you get old, though, your body isn't quite so anxious to fix itself. Imagine if you had a shiny new Corvette: if a bird pooped on it, you'd clean it off, right? Well, now pretend you've got a Buick. You could drive through a tar pit and you still wouldn't wash it. You'd be like, "Yeah, well, it was already a piece of shit." You don't need to look at Grandma under a microscope to know that that's what her body is telling her.

Now when the lights turn off and the pit crew comes out, they took a quick look around and halt in their steps. They see the wrinkled skin, the straw-like mop of hair, the saggy sack of fat over the pubis. They recognize the futility. Even if they could temporarily shoot some brown into her hair, they couldn't force grandma to stop cutting it with pinking shears. Even if they could fine-tune her motor reflexes, she still couldn't remember where she put the car. Even if they could manufacture more collagen for her face, she'd still use a colored Sharpie instead of rouge.

"You know," they say to themselves, "this looks like a little bit of work. Maybe we'll hire a few more guys and give it a shot tomorrow." And they turn all systems back on and two minutes after she went to bed Grandma is up and making marinara sauce.

Will Grandma's body ever hire more workers? Will they ever buckle down and get the job done? Yes! Absolutely! And you have a magical goldfish that can change in size and color every few months. In the meantime, enjoy the spaghetti.

Considered an expert in some Southern states, your friend

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