It is 3:34 a.m. Wednesday as I write this.
It is the time of day when one hears street cleaners, the whirring of vacuum cleaners at high-rise office buildings and desperate men attempting to make the acquaintance of desperate women by using awkward pickup lines.
"Come here often?"
"Yeah, my boyfriend drives the Zamboni."
All of this is Billy Johnson's fault.
Johnson is president of the Las Vegas Wranglers. Johnson also is the Bill Veeck of the ECHL.
No, he has yet to sign a little person to play goalie on a one-day contract. Yes, he's thought of putting a big person between the pipes.
"Sumo wrestler," Johnson says with that crazy look in his eye.
It would be just like Manon Rheaume becoming the third goalie for the defunct Las Vegas Thunder in 1994, if she weighed 450 pounds and wore a mawashi.
When it comes to promoting minor league hockey games, Johnson thinks so far outside the box that it would take Rand McNally and a homing device to get him back inside of it.
This is the man responsible for "Former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich Prison Jersey Night," "Dick Cheney Hunting Vest Night," "Regrettable Tattoo Night" and "Mini-Kiss and Midnight Hockey," the ninth installment of which was held Tuesday at 11:59 p.m. at Orleans Arena.
Actually, for those snoring at home, the puck wasn't dropped until 12:08 a.m. Wednesday. The Wranglers took to the ice in monogrammed smoking jackets while the Stockton Thunder mostly yawned.
Las Vegas won, 5-2. And no, the Wranglers didn't actually wear monogrammed smoking jackets. But they are planning another one of these midnight games on Feb. 19, and I wouldn't put it past Johnson.
A crowd of 4,622 was on hand, significantly larger than the turnouts for the Wranglers' two games played on Tuesday at the normal starting time of 7:05 p.m., when 3,014 and 2,993 attended.
But for two periods, it mostly seemed like any other Wranglers game.
I'm holding the monkey jockey and the dog responsible.
As Tony Kornheiser told "Pardon the Interruption" sidekick Michael Wilbon after a monkey jockey rode a dog at halftime of the Broncos-Patriots game a couple of weeks ago: "Wilbon, there is nothing better than a monkey riding a dog dressed as a cowboy."
I'm not sure the PETA folks would agree. But Kornheiser might have a point. When the public-address announcer said the monkey jockey and the dog wouldn't be appearing as scheduled, the crowd booed.
Skippy Ala King, a joke-telling rabbit, was brought in at short notice. His punch lines went over like a two-line pass in church, and the crowd booed some more. When Skippy's alter ego, Bruce Block, reprised the tried and true escape-from-a-straitjacket routine to the Village People's "YMCA," the crowd pelted him with foam Chuck-a-Pucks.
The crowd did not want Harry Houdini and the Village People. The crowd wanted a monkey jockey and a dog.
"I booked them in the summer," was all Johnson would say when we chatted on the concourse between periods.
Johnson had no way of knowing of the whereabouts of the monkey jockey and the dog. Or that inside the arena, a joke-telling rabbit's alter ego was being pelted with Chuck-a-Pucks.
Which, one supposes, is the beauty of midnight hockey.
During the third period, the Stockton team stopped yawning and started fighting. When the Wranglers fought back, the crowd got more rowdy than when Skippy Ala King was telling bad jokes.
Also by the third period, the beer was flowing like the collective tributaries of the Amazon River.
I stayed to the end; alas, none of the women in attendance flashed the checking lines and goal judges this year, though there is no tape delay on the Orleans Arena video board. That was just a myth purported by Josh Fisher, the Wranglers' former public relations official, and I spoke to a guy sporting an Ogie Oglethorpe No. 2 Syracuse sweater who has put a bounty on Fisher's head.
It is now 5:04 a.m.
Street cleaners are cleaning, vacuum cleaners are vacuuming, desperate men and women have either hooked up or, much more likely, called a taxi.
A monkey jockey and a dog still are unaccounted for.
Las Vegas Review-Journal columnist Ron Kantowski can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0352. Follow him on Twitter: @ronkantowski.