Most commonly, about four/five in the morning. But it’s a totally subjective measurement.
It’s basically when you stay up all night and realise you’re about to be watching the sunrise, or when you wake up so early that the sun isn’t rising for silly hours ahead.
Interestingly, both major kinds of stupid o’clockers are likely to spot each other if out and about, and both will inwardly shudder.
If you’re on your way to work at stupid o’clock, and see someone who’s finally heading home at stupid o’clock, you will feel a pang of jealousy/regret/ageing. If you’re on your way home at stupid o’clock and you see someone heading to work, you’ll be horrified at the idea, and feel a sudden sense of guilt and terror. I tend to specialise in a fairly unique tremor of ‘fuck, one day they’re going to figure out what I’m up to aren’t they’.
It’s okay though, the brain is a marvellous validation machine. Within about five minutes you’ll be smugly enjoying your absence of work, or inwardly sneering about lazy students unready for the dream shattering realities of the universe.
It’s all relative, of course. Stupid o’clock is just the wrong time to be doing whatever you’re doing. And wrongness is dictated by so many different ‘authorities’ that it’s kind of meaningless. Optimistically, my brushes with stupidtime normally come after or before adventures.
Realistically, it’s more focussed on insomnia, which is less fun.
Drugs often feature in stupid o’clock. And it’s one of the best times for a cup of tea. Seriously, I have made myself into the king of a party by suggesting a round of teas at precisely the right time. Tea takes the edge of the stupidity of people and the world. This is often very useful.
But there are no rules.
You just need to know that an objective version of yourself would say that you shouldn’t be up. Or doing what you’re doing.
It doesn’t make it less fun though.
My last stupid o’clock included some of the drunkest people I’ve seen in forever. Marvelously bossy. A group of people up all night can find anything hilarious. Competitions for the most amusing non sequiters become the norm. Sequitering beyond a non is also congratulated.
We ended up doing a multivoiced reading of a moomin comic, and when I put on Take That, I was accused of crassness (though the Kaveman got no redress for actually possessing the track on his computer, that I felt indicted him somewhat).
It’s the perfect time for community building. But if you get the most out of it, you potentially wreck your tomorrow. And when you stumble onto the train home, you start crumbling.
Keep your smile though.
There isn’t really a normal. Just a sensible. It’s overrated, but also under-rated.
And of course, given the best situations, it’s a hugely romantic time. Just ask Fats.
(Less romantic) not to mention these guys.
That’s my stupid.
Illustration by Jaime.