How wired do we need to be? We twitch. We shimmy and shake. We chatter like a wagon full of squirrels rolling through a walnut factory. Guarded by Chihuahuas.
Like the dogs, we're high strung. Snapping and cracking. Yet, we're always looking for that next hit, that next booster shot.
I speak, of course, of our obsession with caffeine, that energizing substance that kick-starts our brains in morning fog and powers us through the demands of the day. All our bodies really crave is a short nap, say 24 hours or so.
How did we get this way?
First, there was coffee.
Actually, first there were saber tooth tigers. When one of those bad boys leapt from behind the bushes, a guy tended to wake up fast, jump about and get his jig on.
Then coffee was invented. It provided all the jounce, jitters and jive of the chase without that sinking feeling of a saber tooth sinking into one's heels.
Naturally, we prefer feeling unnatural. If jolting ourselves awake in the morning worked, then wired must be better. We don't just want our eyes open, we want to out-ogle owls.
Enter espresso. Make it a double.
Then came Starbucks and gallons and gallons of fancy, premium blends with so many options that you need the last one to stay awake long enough to order the next one.
We've been growing crazier on caffeine ever since.
Energy drinks became a multi-kazillion dollar industry on promises to keep millions awake past lunchtime. Lunchtime three days from now, I mean. We're trying to cut back on our sleep.
Why? Because our to-do lists are longer than a latte menu. We fear that without another wallop, we won't get 'er done.
We don't even care to ease up on the headless chicken routine long enough to enjoy a Mountain Dew, Red Bull or Energy Tea anymore. Now we just down a five-hour shot in about five seconds so we can outlast the Energizer Bunny. (Don't see many hops out of that rabbit anymore. I guess he couldn't keep the beat in a world of hopped-up caffeine gluttons.)
If you don't have the five seconds to spare, grab an inhaler. Squeeze off an AeroShot of caffeine while you run and don't stop.
The training begins early. Many chic coffee shops now feature ''babyccinos.'' Oh, yeah.
A babyccino is a mini decaffeinated cappuccino - frothy steamed milk, foam and cinnamon. There's no caffeine - not yet - but the indoctrination is there. (Seriously, what 2-year-old needs to be anywhere near a coffee shop sniffing caffeine fumes?)
The babyccino originated in Australia, the same place where they have all those jumpy kangaroos. Now we know why. (Australia also stocks cribs full of sleepy koalas. They're the ones that drink decaf.)
People, come down! Upgrade to wireless. Tomorrow morning, unplug the coffee pot and go back to bed. If the world wants to pass you by at the speed of juked-up caffeine, smile from the rocking chair on your front porch and wave goodbye.
How wired do we need to be?
---- Burton Cole placed fourth nationally in the latest round of ''America's Funniest Humor'' writing competition. Caffeine may have been involved, but he's napping now at firstname.lastname@example.org.