By Francis Ballesteros, 15, Daniel Murphy HS
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It’s 10 p.m.—a time when many people get ready for a good night’s sleep. But not me. At 10 p.m., my day is just starting!

During the summer, when school’s out, I like nothing more than to stay up all night watching old reruns on TV and snacking on junk food till the wee hours of the morning. For me, it’s fun. It’s a break from the norm. From 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. I have the run of the house and do anything I want.

Call me a night owl. Nocturnal. Whatever you want. I don’t care. You people who sleep at night don’t know the fun you’re missing out on. But go ahead, live your dull lives. Sleep at night. Get up in the morning. B-o-ring, if you ask me. My nights are anything but that.

It starts out like this: Around 9:30-10 p.m., I loot the kitchen for anything edible. My top picks are apple chips, popcorn, pork rinds, salt and vinegar flavored chips and orange soda. I bring the bags of food into the family room and lay them right on the couch or coffee table. The nightly ritual always takes place in the family room, because of the huge TV that has Surround Sound.

By this time of night, my parents are already in bed. The TV is mine, except for the occasional visit from my nocturnal brother, Jan, 17, who mainly spends his nights playing video games or going online.

It starts at 10

Around 10 p.m., the fun begins. It’s time for Early Edition on the Fox Family Channel. The show features a man who receives a newspaper one day before events happen in real life. So he spends his time saving people’s lives and making the world a better place, one person at a time. He’s not like Superman though. He’s a normal Joe. The show is funny and makes me laugh.

I had my eye on Early Edition all year long, but could never watch it, because I’m not allowed to watch TV during the week while in school. Now I’m making up for lost time. I guess that’s how I feel about so many TV shows. The nightly programs may be reruns, but I’ve never seen them before, so they’re new to me.

At 11 p.m., it’s time for Friends on KTLA followed by Married with Children. By this time, I’m stretched out on the couch and laying on my side. The bags of food are conveniently propped on the ground in front of the couch for easy access. I’m so into the shows, that I don’t even notice how much I’m eating. Sometimes the bags just get empty before I know it. But it’s not all my fault. Jan usually comes by to grab a handful of snacks throughout the night. He gets mad if I finish a bag of something before he’s had a chance to eat some.

By midnight, it’s time for Zorro on the Disney Channel. That’s Jan’s favorite show. He usually climbs onto the couch to watch it with me. Sometimes it’s in black and white. Sometimes it’s in color. But it doesn’t matter, because it’s a pretty good show anyway.

When I look outside at this time, the streets are deserted. It’s practically black, except for the occasional porch light. Everyone in the normal time zone is probably asleep. It doesn’t creep me out. But one time, I heard scratching on our window. I didn’t know if it was someone trying to break in, or if it was my dog, Jerry. I jumped up and looked outside only to find a tree branch brushing against the window. Whew!

By 1 a.m. my brother goes back to playing video games. I’m left alone to channel surf till about 5 a.m. That’s when I catch up on shows like Bewitched, I Dream of Jeannie and Gilligan’s Island on Nick at Night. Even though those shows are old, they’re still funny. Plus, I grew up watching them, so it’s fun to reminisce.

Parental guidance?

I wonder what others would think if they could see inside my house during that time. Would they think it’s normal for us to be up so late? My dad doesn’t think so. He usually scolds my brother and me for staying up so late. He calls us vampires! But that’s only when he catches us up! He usually wakes up between 6-6:30 a.m. to get ready for work. The sound of his bedroom door opening is the signal for me and Jan to turn off the lights, go to bed and pretend to sleep.

Sometimes he checks our rooms. He’ll open the door and look at us breathe. One time, he opened the door just as I turned off the lights. I faked that I was asleep, but that didn’t fool him. He said, "You should stop staying up so late. It will be hard to break that habit when school starts." He wasn’t really mad, but he wasn’t pleased. So then I told him that my brother was awake, too. Why should I get all the blame, right?

Later that day, my brother told me that the next time he gets caught, he’ll rat on me!

My sleeping habits don’t get in the way of my day though. I go to bed around 6 a.m. and sleep until 2 p.m. Know why I get up at 2 p.m.? That’s when some afternoon cartoons come on Fox Kids. I love cartoons—when I’m 30, I’ll still watch them.

Still, my parents have a hard time accepting our sleeping habits. One time, my parents planned a weekend getaway to the beach with friends and relatives. There was a hitch though. My parents said Jan and I could only go if we went to bed early and woke ourselves up around 7 a.m. to ride with them.

Jan and I thought about going to sleep, but I was wired and couldn’t shut my eyes. Plus, I would miss my routine. What about Friends? Bewitched? Zorro and Early Edition? I couldn’t bear the thought of missing them. Then Jan decided we should stay up and pretend that we went to sleep, so our parents would still take us on the trip.

We did just that.

When morning came, Jan and I went to our rooms. I dove under the blankets to make it look like I slept. My dad went into the kitchen and made breakfast. That’s when Jan and I emerged from our rooms, dressed and ready to go. When we got to the resort, I slept for a few hours. Jan got by with just an hour’s sleep. No one ever knew the difference, and we had a great time!

Now that summer is approaching again, I’m not sure if my ritual will continue. For one, my brother will take on a summer job before he leaves for college. So my partner in crime is M.I.A. Plus, I might travel to the Philippines to visit my cousins and grandparents. I guess the all-nighters will come to an end.

Hmmm … I wonder if they have cable TV …