A nocturnal Kent State of mind

Darren D’Altorio

Students share similar non-sleeping habits

Reporter Darren D’Altorio peeks into the lives of habitual night owls.

I rubbed the crust from my eyes before I exited my car in the commuter parking lot outside the Music and Speech Center.

Depending on a person’s frame of reference, it could have been late Sunday night or early Monday morning. It was 3:30 a.m.; and I was on a quest to find those who would perceive it to be the former.

This time of day isn’t for everyone. To witness the clock creep into these hours is usually an accident, a reaction to a bad dream or a booty call. But walking past the Centennial dorms, I knew I was in good company. There were interruptions in the rows of blacked-out windows stacked high in the surrounding dorms, soft light sporadically breaking the pattern of darkness.

I pulled the collar up on my coat, blocking the cold breeze’s chokehold. I turned east, aiming my stride toward Tri-Towers. Two girls dressed in sweat pants and hoodies walked about 100 yards in front of me, headed in the same direction. Lanyards bearing Flashcards swung from their wrists.

I lived in Tri-Towers my freshman year, so I’m familiar with the drill. Late night snacks at Rosie’s and escaping outside to entertain smoking-circle conversations are pastimes, along with dropping water balloons on unsuspecting pedestrians from various 10th floor windows.

I met Brittinie Jermon and Mikko Tiu around 3:45 a.m. in the Rotunda’s computer lab. Only one computer monitor separated them, but they were very much in their own respective worlds.

Jermon, a freshman international relations major, punched away at the keyboard in spurts, retreating to her Facebook account between moments of inspiration. She was typing an essay for her comparative religious thought class.

She said her assignment was to visit a religious service outside of her belief system and write about what she observed. Being a Christian, she chose to visit the First Muhammad Mosque of Cleveland and write about her experience.

“It was an enriching experience,” she said, pointing out various rituals she observed during the service, like the many times the congregation bowed while praying. “Everyone there was very welcoming, and I was able to gain respect for a religion not like mine.”

Tiu, a freshman athletic training major, flipped through Cormac McCarthy’s “All the Pretty Horses,” searching for the right thoughts to end his analysis paper of the book.

“This is due in four hours,” he said through a confident smile.

He explained what he thought the book was about and the insight he gained from reading it.

“It’s about the main character’s quest to uncover the true Old West,” he said. “He’s searching for something, but ends up where he began. It’s really a meaningless quest.”

He said the way the book captured Mexican culture and the corruption Mexico faces in many ways stood out to him, especially with the ongoing drug related violence currently plaguing some Mexican cities.

“People want to come here (America) for a better life,” he said. “It’s similar to the quest the main character is on.”

Around the corner from the computer lab, Andrea Faller, freshman hospitality management major, and her boyfriend, Chad Myers, snuggled up on a couch. He rested his head in her lap while she sat upright, reading from “The Changeling.”

“I’m not usually awake at this time,” Faller said. “But I’m entertaining him right now.”

I made my stay with them brief so they could be as they were.

My journey took me all around campus, past Eastway and the Ice Arena, through Risman Plaza, where I pulled on the locked doors of the Student Center and watched an employee clean the countertop of Jazzman’s in the library.

I saw two girls and a guy staring into the glow of a laptop in the study lounge of Lake Hall. I watched a man walk past the Art Building, flick a cigarette onto the ground, exhale some smoke and disappear into the shadows.

I ended up at Circle K on Main Street around 5:00 a.m.

Will Maltby, the graveyard shift cashier, talked with Denny Galleher, a local man who has a thirst for the pre-dawn hours.

“I’ve been waking up at 3 a.m. for years,” Galleher said. “I come here for soda and conversation.”

And the conversation was lively. The two men talked about Aerosmith and the band’s demise because of bad blood between Joe Perry and Steven Tyler. They talked about using profanity in public places and in front of parents.

“I still won’t swear in front of my mom,” Maltby said. “It’s just not cool.”

Galleher shared stories from his days as a disc jockey at a big band radio station.

“I was a student at the National Institute of Technology,” Galleher said. “We had a beach party. I had to go to the station that night to host a show, and I was drunk, dressed in a bathing suit. I brought a few beers to the studio with me. It made the night much more enjoyable.”

Maltby said he encounters many drunks while holding down the fort.

“A guy knocked some pretzels off a shelf while he was talking to someone on his cell phone,” Maltby said. “He hung up his phone, picked up the bag of pretzels, opened it and started eating them.

He started yelling ‘I have to perform pretzel-to-mouth resuscitation. I have to make sure the pretzels are OK.’

“I was like, are you going to pay for those? This kid was wasted.”

I noticed a steady rainfall glazing Circle K’s parking lot and decided it would be a good time to head back to my car. I walked up the steps in front of the ROTC building and cut across to Midway Drive. As I approached Dunbar, I saw a kid drag the last hit of his cigarette and flick the butt to the ground before swiping himself back into the dorm. It was 5:30 a.m.

I thought to myself, “That was either his first smoke of the new day or his last smoke of a day coming to an end.”

Either way, I knew I found what I was looking for.

Contact features reporter Darren D’Altorio at [email protected].