When time flies? Swat it

It’s only a matter of time before someone is killed by an alarm clock. You think I’m kidding, but as scary as it is out there (just for the record, I’ve never been quite sure where “there” is), it’s getting even scarier in bedrooms with alarm clocks — which is, of course, a sizable percentage of the bedrooms in this country. For all I know, it may include every single bedroom we have except for that of a fellow whose name escapes me, but who lived in the same dormitory as me our senior year of college. He lived in the suite next door and was famous for sleeping through his afternoon classes.
In any case, as we work harder and sleep less, we are growing increasingly dependent upon alarm clocks.
It is also, apparently, getting more and more difficult for the old-fashioned alarm clock to roust us from our beds. My wife came across three products while traveling recently that suggest it’s becoming common for us all to turn off our snooze alarms and grab another six or seven hours of shut-eye.
First of all, in a Skymall catalog on an airplane, she came across the Hammacher Schlemmer Flying Alarm Clock. This little item launches a rotor into the air that wings its way around the bedroom until the sleeper climbs out of bed, catches it and returns it to the alarm base. Meanwhile, the alarm is ringing.
Then in an issue of Lucky magazine, she read about the Nanda Clocky alarm clock. Incidentally, Lucky is the only magazine on the planet that has the courtesy to inform its readers upfront that it is about absolutely nothing but consumption: Buying stuff because stuff is love. Anyway, the Nanda Clocky is sold at the Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan, and jumps down from pedestals up to 24 inches high, where it will then proceed to run around your bedroom until you catch it and kill it — excuse me, until you catch it and turn it off.
Finally, she found the Sonic Boom alarm clock. This dandy device was designed for those among us who are seriously morning-challenged: I presume that the name of the clock hints at its sound (ca-boom!), especially since the product includes a “vibrating bed shaker.” (Note I did not write that it includes a vibrator that will make you shake in your bed, which would probably get me fired.)
So, here we have an alarm clock that sends a rotor flying about your bedroom, an alarm clock that races like a rodent under your feet, and an alarm clock that is evidently powerful enough to shake your mattress.
Frankly, I’m impressed. There have been times in my life when I could have used all three of them. One weekend morning when I was in college, my roommates claimed that I pushed the snooze alarm beside my bed every 10 minutes for close to three hours. Unfortunately, we all had separate bedrooms in the suite, and my door was locked, and so they couldn’t simply turn off the clock, drag me from the bed, and find a new, more considerate roommate.
Nevertheless, the trend here is, well, alarming. Given our tendency these days to burn the candle at both ends — to work hard, to play hard, and to sleep as little as possible — it is only a matter of time before we need alarms that behave about as badly as possible. I’m not a product innovator, but I wouldn’t be surprised if someday soon we have alarms that smolder so they set off our smoke alarms (the Fire Alarm), shriek that the end of the world is nearing (the False Alarm), and murmur over and over in a nasally voice, “That’s hot,” (the Annoying Celebrity Socialite Alarm).
Certainly that last one would get me out of bed … but only so I could prove that (Warning: Old Joke Ahead!) time flies by hurling the clock out the window.
(This column originally appeared in the Burlington Free Press on May 27, 2007.)

Chris Bohjalian

Chris Bohjalian is the author of nineteen books, including his forthcoming novel, The Sleepwalker. His other novels include the New York Times bestsellers Midwives, The Sandcastle Girls, The Guest Room, and The Double Bind.