After suffering a night of little sleep, I’ve been reminded of a long overdue thank you that needs to be extended.
With no apparent clues to its onset, I was plagued with insomnia throughout my middle and high school years. I tried everything from warm milk to ocean sounds, but nothing would put me back to sleep. After giving up, I would fill the nights with reading and fiddling and tossing and turning, but would always eventually end up in front of the television.
TV in the wee hours of the morning can be a lonely place. I’ve watched hundreds of mind-numbing infomercials and painful public access broadcasts, as well as my fair share of rainbow-colored “off air” screens with the high-pitched hum. The boredom was excruciating.
Then, one night while I was surely as brain-dead as ever, I stumbled across The World’s Strongest Man
competition. My nights were forever changed. I almost thought I had fallen back asleep and was in the middle of some bizarre dream, but I pinched myself, and the barking men were still pulling buses across finish lines. I wasn’t quite sure what I had found, but the boredom finally left me like an unwelcome guest.
The World’s Strongest Man competition seemed like something out of Vaudeville or an old-fashioned carnival, but dressed up as a sport. There were events and numbers and times and winners, but all was colored with so much pageantry — they wouldn’t simply lift weights, they would lift props. The contestants would flip tires and toss kegs and dead-lift platforms of beautiful women all while grunting and screaming in multicolored leotards. It was one hell of a spectacle, a spectacle that I had never seen, or even heard of, by the sober light of day. It felt like some weird gift given to those who couldn’t sleep soundly.
At the end of each marathon a champion was crowned, and some yelling, mountain of a man from Scandinavia, wearing aviators and sporting a well-manicured mustache, would accept his prize. And shortly after the show ended, birds would begin to chirp and the first signs of morning would present themselves. It was only then that I felt I could crawl back into bed and try to sleep a few minutes before getting ready for school.
And so I give thanks to all those involved in The World’s Strongest Man and its late-night broadcasts. I’m sure I’m not the only one whose insomnia was relieved by the competition. I would’ve been awake either way, but without something so engaging, I would probably have lost my mind by graduation.
I wonder how far I could walk with a refrigerator strapped to my back …
Nic R. Krause was born a cranky, curmudgeon of a child in a Minnesota suburb. He was plucked from the muggy tundra and relocated to Colorado Springs 22 years ago. From intramural jai-alai, to his complicated relationship with the Minnesota Vikings, Nic, plainly stated, is bonkers for sports. Follow him on Twitter @NicRKrause.