“To catch some Z’s”
“I’m off to catch some Z’s” is a saying I’m sure that you’ve all heard,
What a curious little phrase, so strange and so absurd,
We all know what it means, to shut your eyes and get some rest,
But why it really means this, can you even guess?
You’ve heard it, seen it written, seen Z’s drawn in bubbles as cartoons snore
But have you ever stopped to wonder, is it simply just a saying, or is it something more?
Just a figure of speech? A quant, odd turn of phase?
Or is there a story behind it? A truth that would amaze?
Well I can tell you I now know, the story behind this little mystery,
So sit back while I tell you, this curious sayings amazing history.
A long, long, time a go, in a time forgotten and gone by,
In the winds that crossed our lands, Z’s floated and flew by,
Z’s I hear you ask, why whatever do you mean?
The letter carried in the breeze? How absurd, oh how obscene!
The idea surely is quite strange, when compared to our world now,
But that really is what happened, don’t ask me why! Don’t ask me how!
But these Z’s, though random as they seem, they served a purpose, they were useful,
They helped children get to sleep, and thus, to us, they were quite crucial.
So now you can guess where this is going, that phrase is not simply just a phrase,
It’s based upon our history, our old world, olden ways.
We really did catch Z’s, it’s not just an expression.
But it’s something we’ve forgotten, so our memories I will freshen.
See people would cast nets, out the windows of their home,
To catch the passing Z’s, in the breeze where they did roam,
They’d collect them and they’d store them, for later use they’d keep,
For without these precious Z’s ,children could not get to sleep.
For when it was time to sleep, time to rest and go to bed,
Mums and dads would place three Z’s above their little children’s heads
They would, kiss them on their forehead and tuck them in real snug and tight
And the Z’s would help them sleep, peacefully and soundly through the night.
So if this tale is true, you ask, why don’t these Z’s remain?
Why don’t we use them till this day? Well that’s what I’ll explain.
You see one day our world awoke to something most strange and truly weird,
The Z’s that we’d relied on, had vanished, they’d disappeared,
All over the land we searched, yet the Z’s could not be traced
We were most shocked and baffled, what a problem we now faced
The Z’s were so important, whatever would they do?
How would children get to sleep at night? No one had a clue.
The government assembled, to talk and think things through,
To come up with a plan, to figure out just what to do,
Every expert was consulted, each boffin summoned to HQ,
But they really were befuddled, bamboozled through and through.
For days the talks went on, ideas flying left and right,
Yet like the z’s they now sought after, a solution too seemed out of sight
So after much more thinking and consultation, discussions and deliberations,
It was decided that someone must go and travel, to far off distant nations.
Perhaps a wind almighty, like never seen before,
Had carried the Z’s by night, to one of these distant nations shores
So a ship was sought and readied, for the brave and fateful few,
Yet it was still not quite decided, just who would make its crew?
But this decision was reached sooner, it was clear who’d be the one
It was a young and brilliant scientist and his courageous little son.
The scientist’s name was Egbert, he was eccentric and offbeat,
But he really was the perfect choice for this so important feat.
He was a genius problem solver, a thinker and a fixer,
For every problem he’d encountered he had an invention or elixir.
Any quandary, any puzzle, any pickle, any stew,
He surely was the man to seek, to help to see you through.
He agreed their best hope of an answer; lay in those far off distant nations
So he hopped right to it, and got to work, making his calculations and preparations.
Well what about his son you ask? Why take him to a far off land?
Well little Teddy was Egbert’s keen apprentice, his helper, his right hand,
He helped Egburt solve all problems, fix equations, design inventions,
He really was quite brilliant too, did I forget to mention.
They were told the ship was docked and ready, prepared for them to use,
But Egbert had another plan, and so the ship he politely refused.
Instead he used his own ship, his own ingenious design
And what a work of art, it truly was sublime.
Capable of travelling, by sea, by air and land,
He could track those Z’s down anywhere, or at least that’s what he planned.
So initially they set sail, Both Egbert and young Teddy,
They felt confident in their quest; they felt that they were ready.
They sailed for 5 days or so, until they reached their first foreign shore,
Where the sight upon arrival, was like nothing they’d seen before,
The land was quite the same, not much difference could they see
But above the land, in huge puffy clouds, appeared the letter C .
They docked their ship in port, and were met by the people there,
They told the people of their plight, their problem they did share,
The people listened quite intently, with sympathetic, caring ears,
They understood the problem, faced by their worried peers.
But the Z’s they had not seen, they simply had not crossed their land,
Yet they had an idea of their own, as to how to lend a hand.
Your Z’s we can’t provide, they’re not here for us to return
But how we send our children here to sleep, we will teach, and you can learn
You see here it’s C’s we use, you’ve seen them in our clouds overhead
Just like the Z’s you use, we place them above our children’s heads.
They drift right off to sleep, into sweet and pleasant dreams
We’ve C’s here in abundance, to which you’re most welcome, by all means.
So let us ready our balloons, for that’s how we catch our C’s
We float up to the clouds, and pluck them there with ease.
They had balloons of every colour, with wicker baskets underneath
Within only a few minutes, the C’s were now within their reach.
Up followed Egbert and little Teddy, Their ship was at the ready,
Prepared for all eventualities, it had its own Balloons already.
They caught up might fast, Soon many C’s they had on deck.
Now to see if they would work, was what they had to check.
So that Night Egburt tucked in Teddy, above his head he placed three C’s
Would he sleep a peaceful dream filled sleep, just like he would had they been Z’s?
Well that night Teddy tossed and turned, he lay awake all night
Not a wink of sleep, a single second, the C’s just were not right.
The people of the land were confused, dumfounded and bemused,
For them they worked a charm, it was what they’d always used.
They had no other answer, no ideas, not a clue,
So Egburt thanked them for their efforts, and bid them a kind adieu
Onwards they now ventured, with a real sense of unease,
Would they ever solve the problem , of the mysterious missing Z’s?
They left the sea below, with their balloons took to the air,
Until they spotted land beneath them, Could the answer have laid there?
Egburt prepared the ship for landing, and soon enough they had touched down
The people met them upon arrival, a crowd quickly gathered round
When telling them their story, this time young Teddy took the lead,
The people listened quite intently; they really did take heed.
Yet the situation there, was much the same as last, they’d find
They would remain it seemed, most firmly stuck, in their terrible Z’less bind.
No report of Z’s appearing, not by day, nor not by night,
Would they ever find the solution, to end their Z’less plight?
Once again the people kindly offered, a solution of their own,
For you see on the trees of their land, large letter B’s were grown
For much like Eburt and Teddy’s Z’s , and the C’s of the land before
Here it was B’s that helped their children sleep, it was here B’s that made them snore.
The people duly showed them, how they collected the letter B’s
With ropes and harnesses and rigging they quickly shot up their B trees
Egburt and Teddy both joined in, except they used their ships neat trick
For Egburt had installed retractable robotic arms, with which the B’s he could now pick.
Within a few short minutes, baskets of B’s were filled right to the brim,
Would they work? Would they induce sleep? Just like their Z shaped kin?
Well once night began to creep in, time for all to rest,
Once again little Teddy would try them out, he’d put them to the test.
Above his head Three B’s were placed and he closed his eyes to sleep,
But once again sleep just did not come, not a wink, nay not a peep.
The people of the land, were most shocked, were most dumfound
The B’s had always worked for them, for them sleep did abound
Once again they had no more to give, no more ideas, no solution,
So it was clear once more Egburt would have to venture further to find a resolution.
So that’s just what he did, with little Teddy , right by him, there in tow,
They readied the ship and set sail; to another land they’d have to go.
They had not to venture far this time, until they arrived on a new shore,
Did the Z’s or an answer lie here? Or would it be just as fruitless as the lands before?
Within minutes they were greeted, and again their problem they did Share,
No surprise, the Z’s had not been seen! Egbert was beginning to despair.
Not to worry the people said, and they told them of their mine.
Where they dug for D’s that helped their children sleep, these they’d share and all’d be fine.
Egbert wished he could believe them, Teddy too, but both had doubts
After testing the letters of the lands before, in what had been two futile bouts.
Nevertheless, off to the Mine they went, to dig for and collect these D’s
With the hope that unlike the C’s and B’s, they would work just like their Z’s
The people had their diggers, tunnels, shafts, carts and a rail,
But as I said before, Egbert’s Ship was ready, for all eventualities without fail.
At the bow he’d installed a drill, a huge tool designed for digging,
He released it from its trap door and took down the mast and rigging.
The ship was poised and ready, the drill in position and held steady,
Egburt was strapped in to his seat, and right by him so was Teddy.
They turned on the big drill and within seconds were underground,
Where jutting from the dark and dingy rock, Shiny D’s were surely found.
With the miners they dug for hours, it was quite an effort quite a strain,
Had all the work been worth it? Were D’s and Z’s the same?
There was only one way to find out, to put them to the test,
The result I think you know by now, go on, have a guess.
That’s right, once more the letters did not work, it seemed nothing but a Z would do,
But they couldn’t give up hope; they simply had to push on through.
So again they thanked the people for their help and for their aid,
But a journey to another land, once more had to be made.
By now their hope was dwindling, their heads began to drop
They soon spotted land ahead, but was it even worth a stop?
They set down anchor by the shore, and told the people there once more,
Of the problem still at hand, the Z’s that had disappeared from their land,
It all seemed quite the same, like a case of Déjà vu,
No Z’s had there been spotted, but they had other letters which would do.
They used letter E’s, which were found just of their coast,
They produced the finest sleeps and dreams, they said, though they did not mean to boast.
They collected them with nets and rods, as they lay beneath the seas,
So together they went fishing, to catch some letter E’s.
Egbert had nets and rods on board, ready as ever, was his ship,
Together they caught masses of E’s, it was quite the successful trip.
They hauled them overboard, and took them back with them to the shore,
Were these the answer they had hoped for, would they work unlike those before?
In short, the answer, once again was a resounding no,
Egbert and Teddy, quite dejected, did not know from here, where to go.
It seemed quite hopeless now, No Z’s, and nothing in their place,
But they knew they must continue, for the children at home’s sake.
So once more to the breach, they ventured on and journeyed further
Although it was clear they were now lacking, in hope and any fervour
They stumbled across another land and upon it they descended,
Was this where the Z’s had flown to? Was this where their troubles ended?
They were met with more bad news, not a single Z had there been seen,
So they’d have to chance another letter, once more it did now seem.
However when Egbert asked what they used, which letter helped their children sleep and dream?
They answered him most strangely, they said, “whatever do you mean?”
“We’ve never seen your Z’s, and we do not use letters in such a way,”
Egbert was quite dumbstruck; he did not know what to say!
“So how then do you help your children, drift of into sleep?
Without letters there to help them”, Teddy asked, “They must not get a peep?”
“Well young man we’ll show you,” said the people whom they’d met,
“Perhaps our way can help you, and end your worry and your fret.”
They took them to a building, filled with great loud whirring machines,
From which paper shot out rapidly, in reams and reams and reams.
On the paper there was writing, and sometimes pictures had been drawn,
But how did this help children sleep through the night, to dream until the morn?
The people then explained, when they saw Egbert and Teddy’s queer expression and baffled looks,
That what shot out of those big loud machines, were freshly written storybooks.
“Whatever do you mean? Of storybooks we’ve never heard,
How do they help your children sleep, to us this seems Absurd?
Stories were read to their children, after they’d been tucked in tight,
They would listen and fall asleep, into a peaceful, dreamful sleep all night
Stories they were written tales, of imagination and wonderment
That their people they called authors, would write, come up with, and invent
They were sometimes things that happened, sometimes things purely made up, they called it fiction,
And sometimes they had pictures, like I said, to help with the tales depiction.
They had many Authors there, different people of all ages,
Producing stories by the bucket load, pages, pages, and pages,
After they’d explained all this, Egbert and Teddy, were still really unsure,
Would this really work? Could this really be the cure?
Nevertheless, they had no choice but to try it, for the Z’s were nowhere in sight,
The other letters had not worked, and maybe this just might.
That night Teddy chose a story; from what they called their “library,” their collection.
His favourite thing was animals, so he picked it from that section.
Once the story was selected, Egbert tucked in Teddy for the night,
He began reading the Story, much to little Teddy’s delight.
Teddy closed his eyes and listened, he pictured the characters in the book,
He imagined all the sounds and places, how everything would look,
As the story continued on, not at the end, but just before,
The most amazing thing did happen, Teddy began to snore.
Egburt was aghast, he could not believe his eyes,
It seemed they’d found what they had come for; the story was their prize.
Next morn Teddy awoke, he sat up startled in disbelief,
He new that refreshed feeling, he knew he must have been to sleep.
He jumped up and down excited, Egburt joined him when he saw,
The lost Z’s didn’t matter, they were a problem now no more.
They thanked the people most profusely, for showing them their way,
They’d truly solved the problem; they’d truly saved the day.
But there was one last little problem, one more complication,
You see their stories were bound by law, to stay, and not to leave their nation.
But the people were keen to help, to find a resolution,
So they taught Teddy to write a story, what a wonderful solution.
He wrote about his journey, to find the Z’s, he told his Tale,
And how the story was the answer, when all the letters they did fail.
He told of all the lands, all the strange ways letters were collected,
All the fascinating facts, he recalled and recollected.
When he brought his story home, it was swiftly published and dispersed,
The only children’s book ever written in the land, it really was a first.
Just like the Z’s before it, it really worked a treat,
All the children once again, slept a lovely, dreamful sleep.
And so I guess that ends my tale, about the origin of that phrase,
“To catch some Z’s”
You’ve learnt how it is based on truth, on our old world, olden ways.
And how we now rely on stories, and not those floating Z’s
To help our children drift to sleep, pleasantly and with ease,
So I hope you liked my story, and if not asleep, are on your way,
But if not, choose another, better yet, write your own, please,
To help you “catch some Z’s.”