I’ve noticed a condition I call “morning weakness,” and while some of my more macho acquaintances insist that there’s no such thing, others have confirmed to me that it is a very real medical condition. Now I’m not exactly Samson even at my prime, but it’s my experience that immediately upon waking, and for ten to fifteen minutes afterwards, I’m weak as a kitten (though an abnormally large kitten could probably overpower me too).

Ordinarily this is an annoyance more than anything. Let’s face it: the heaviest thing most people need to lift after getting out of bed is a toothbrush. But on occasion it’s put me at a severe disadvantage. My little brother, for example, had a habit when he was younger of jumping on me in bed and initiated a wrestling match that would invariable leave me pinned and helpless–a particular humiliation for someone four years older than him!

It’s also inconvenient when there’s an emergency. On the day in question, I was roused from my sleep by the whine of the fire alarm. Ordinarily there would be no problem; my room was right near the apartment’s central stairwell and safety.

No, the problem was my backpack, overloaded with books and my laptop computer. Morning weakness had set in and, try as I might, I couldn’t lift it or any of the items inside.