The Dead Zone

Sunday, March 19th, 2000

Here’s a quote by a brilliant man:

“Three o’clock is always too late or too early for anything you want to do.” - Jean-Paul Sartre

Here’s another quote by another brilliant man:

“In the end, it was the Sunday afternoons he couldn’t cope with, and that terrible listlessness which starts to set in at about 2:55, when you know that you’ve had all the baths you can usefully have that day, that however hard you stare at any given paragraph in the papers you will never actually read it, or use the revolutionary new pruning technique it describes, and that as you stare at the clock the hands will move relentlessly on to four o’clock, and you will enter the long dark teatime of the soul.” - Douglas Adams, Life, the Universe and Everything

As I write this, it is 4 o’clock on a Sunday afternoon. I have lingered over coffee, I have taken a long shower, I have stared at the Sunday paper for hours - every single page of it. And now I am smack-dab in the middle of the long dark teatime of my soul.

I hate Sundays. And I hate 3:00 in the afternoon on any given day. So most of all, more than anything else, I hate the hours between 3:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. on Sundays. Those three hours are quite possibly the most dreary hours of the entire week. No matter what I do on a Sunday, particularly between the hours of 3 and 6, I am always acutely aware of the fact that I am just killing time so that the stupid day is over as quickly as possible.

In Germany, Sundays are particularly hard on me because no stores are open, so I couldn’t even go to Wal-Mart or something and wander around to pass the time. People here go for Sunday walks, they have cake and coffee around four, they like to relax. It really is a day of rest here, which most everyone seems to enjoy - at least judging by the debates that rage every time someone mentions the idea of letting stores open on Sunday.

I’ve tried to do the German thing. I’ve gone for walks on sunny Sundays in the hopes that the sunlight would improve my mood like it’s supposed to. It doesn’t work. I’ve gone for walks on cloudy Sundays because fresh air and movement are supposed to improve your mood even if it’s not sunny. It doesn’t work. I’ve tried drinking tea and relaxing, I’ve tried playing music, I’ve tried reading, I’ve tried watching TV (which is even more depressing), I’ve tried meeting with friends for coffee.

Nothing, absolutely nothing, works. I still can’t shake that melancholy Sunday ennui. I still spend the day waiting for the day to be over.

Sunday morning can be a bright, cheery time to relax with a cup of coffee and be happy that you don’t have to go to work or do anything in particular. Sunday night is just like a weeknight because you know that the next day is a weekday and you’ll be busy doing something or other.

But Sunday afternoon? It’s nothing. It’s not the week, and it doesn’t feel like the weekend. 3:00 p.m. on a weekday is bad enough, but I feel real dread when 3:00 p.m. on Sunday rolls around. It’s such an empty time, a vacuum time. It makes me feel trapped in a time loop or something. It’s dead time. It’s a cusp, like the few hours right before dawn. It’s weird and unholy. It’s an empty room. It’s a ghost town. All I can do is keep myself busy and wait for it to end.

I breathe a sigh of relief once 6:00 p.m. rolls around. Then it’s evening time - something well-defined, clear-cut, normal. Then I can think about calling my parents to say hello. I can make dinner. I can busy myself by getting stressed out about all the things I have to do on Monday. I can turn on the TV to catch the Sunday night movie, and I can at long last numb my mind to the fact that some part of my soul was just sucked out by the soul-vampire that disguises itself as a long, dark Sunday afternoon.

As far as I’m concerned, the sun can’t go down fast enough on a Sunday.

Comments

1

Oh dear…you really DO dislike Sunday afternoons, don’t you!? I was going to try to throw out a few ideas, but I think you covered just about every thing! In the States, people with family, would gather for Sunday dinner…around 2 usually. Actually, growing up, when we weren’t out for a ride…that was about the time we would eat. People would come home from church and start cooking dinner. I bet it was because they all hated Sunday afternoons also…although I never thought of it that way. This actually gave them something to do, didn’t it? You could try that! Or try doing something new, how about a little paint kit and paint…and then the next week make a bracelet to eye glass holder or necklace?? :) At least your Sunday afternoon is over…I’m still dealing with mine! Daddy called from work a little while ago and said he really didn’t want to be there…he wanted to be home here with me…so he’s going to finish up, do some work here, and go in early tomorrow…that kind of makes my Sunday afternoon better! And knowing that I’ll be talking to you always makes me happy…but that’s YOUR Sunday night! Love you…keep writing…we look forward to it!!

Posted by Mutti

2

What gets me is the fact that during the week I seem to have no time to do any of the things I really want to and I tell myself "Ah, just wait for the weekend, then you can do whatever you want. But when three o’clock on Sunday rolls around, I never seem to feel like playing those tunes I’ve been meaning to practice or writing those long overdue emails. And so I fritter the day away by playing Jedi Knight, all the while plagued with feelings of guilt. It’s the guilt that gets me. I know that even if the shops were open or if there was actually something to do on Sundays I’d still have those guilt feelings. "Hey, it’s Sunday you should be relaxing and playing Jedi Knight or something."

3

Here in the "States" you would probably be considered a DINK. That is, Dual Income - No Kids. When I stopped to think where I was and what I was doing on Sunday afternoon at 3:00PM, it was easy! I was in the car, driving one of the children off to a practice of some sort, preparing errands for the two hours that practice took so I could be promptly (woe be unto me if I am late!) back to pick up said child and return home for the evening.

In your situation, take the quiet time that Sunday allows from 3 to 6:00PM when the world takes a deep breath and everything stops, to visit with your partner. Run a tub of hot water, light some scented candles, pour in the bath oil, chill some wine and let some gentle music play. Climb into the tub with Jeremy and enjoy each other until you are both well pruned and wrinkley. Towel each other briskly. Continue with lots of hugs and snuggles until 6:00PM when the world exhales and the hubbub pulse of life begins anew.

This puts you into just the right frame of mind for the evening, does wonders for the appetite and will allow you to face the trials of a brand new week with a smile.

4

Well here’s my response to Mr. Sunday afternoon Nothing…. When I was about 7 years old & used to say I was bored… over & over to Mom…. she responded once "There is nothing that is boring… There are only boring people" So there you have it… You are bored because you are boring! Get yourself something you are interested in… Get out of your vacuum and Get to it! Get to LIVING while you’re still ALIVE! Life is short!

Posted by Nancy

5

Fast enough for a Sunday.

What if you were to record your Sunday. All day 24 by 7 and then save the tape until next Sunday and watch the tape of last Sunday, and then record yourself watching the Sunday tape 24 by 7 this Sunday to watch the newly created tape the next Sunday for a Month of Sunday’s. Then by God wouldn’t you have something? or just a lot of nothing. Imagine what Sundauys are like for God he has to watch all of our Sundays simultaneously. I am thankful I only have one at a time. Fast…Enough… for a Sunday. You say, so easy for you to say.

Posted by bill

6

But what about museums! What better place to meandre through a Sunday afternoon than with hordes of other people trying to get through that long dark tea time of the soul. Revel in the miasma of boredom and dullness specially magnified by the multitude of walking dead. In particular I remember Sunday’s in Melbourne’s main Museum. Walking down from the train station, hordes of people, families all out "enjoying an afternoon stroll" because that’s what they are supposed to do on a Sunday. The atmosphere builds up and then you enter to be immediately assaulted by that stupifying dullness that a brain dead Sunday afternoon inspires so well. Ahhh museums!

Posted by Michael

7

Gloomy, chilly, slight sulfurous odor, grey, desolate, eastern, with the sound of an occasional streetcar. This is my Sunday. Yeah, sure, there’s NBC Europe and the same repeating commercials to watch. There’s also dubbed versions of serials you didn’t even know existed back home. There’s the sandy garden out back which hasn’t quite yet recovered from last year’s construction. And then there’s the stroll down main street’s row of empty buildings, the old ones too run down to be occupied, the renovated ones too expensive for anyone to afford. The few stores aren’t open and still not really familiar, since they don’t open during the week til 10 after I’m off to work, and I come home late after eight and they’re already closed. On Saturday I try to get my strength back and sleep in. And since the stores start to close after two I don’t have enough time to go shopping. Here Sunday begins on Saturday afternoon.

Posted by Derek

8

It’s true, what you say. I found your entry by doing a search for "sunday ennui", which is my favourite catchphrase and email address.

9

Complete truth, and no mistake. I was always struck by that Douglas Adams quote, which I read when I was about 13. At last! Something to CALL that appalling gloom that descends at 3pm on Sunday afternoons. It was a relief to know it wasn’t just me! I’m sure if ever I get round to cutting my throat it is bound to be a Sunday, around quarter to four! And no half-arsed suggestions of cutsey things you could occupy yourself with from me. There’s a gazillion things I enjoy doing - but I can’t give a damn about any of them between 1500-1800, Sundays! (oh, tho now I remember, I once had a job where I worked Saturdays and had Mondays off. Somehow it negated the whole problem, cos even if Sunday was a write-off, you knew you had a whole free day ahead in which everything would be open and you could do what you wanted - it was great. Perhaps us sensitive sonntag-phobics ought to adjust the work week!)

Posted by Roley

10

This Kind Of Stuff Really Gets Me. If The Whole World Was Like This Just Think Where we would be today. All the things we have today would have never been invented.

11

How can you tape something ‘24 by 7’ for only one day? If there really is a way to squeeze ‘24 by 7’ into one day then that explains the occasional shops which purport to be open 24/7/365.

Unfortunately there are no such shops here in Switzerland, not even ones open 24/7/52. So Sunday afternoons are when I force myself to do all those dishes that have been piling up, so that I can breathe through my nose in the kitchen without retching.

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