“I have the midnights,” I said. The midnights is what I call the overwhelming wave of hunger which I experience nightly at, you guessed it, 11:30 p.m. (The midnights extend for half an hour in either direction around midnight. Wait, did you not guess that?)
“It’s 11:18,” Gene said.
“The midnights are twelve minutes early tonight,” I said. “But they are very real. Could I please have a crumpet?”
“What’s a crumpet?”
“It’s not a real thing. It’s just another word for an English muffin,” I said, because that is my story about crumpets and I am sticking to it. “Will you get me one?”
“No, I don’t think you really want that.” Gene does not approve of the midnights and indeed exerts all of his considerable influence to prevent me from indulging in them. Ostensibly this is out of concern for my own health and unbroken sleep, but I think concern about crumbs in the bed also plays a part.
“I do,” I said earnestly. “I do really want that. Can you please go get me one?”
“When you say ‘get you one’…”
“We don’t have any in the house. Can you please go to the store and get me one? And can you get me some ham and brie to put on it?” (The midnights take a very specific form: bread, cheese, ham. This is what I want to eat five minutes before I sleep.)
I waited. Gene continued reading The Encyclopedia of Country Living, no doubt dreaming of that post-apocalyptic day when his survival skills have secured him a place in the new society and I and my midnight whining have been banished to the Poet Pit, or wherever they will keep people like me in the new world. Eventually I was forced to give up and go back to reading my English mystery novel, dreaming of the day when my ability to order crumpets and eat a late meal will make me a leading light in the British aristocracy and Gene and his Encyclopedia are relegated to the Peasant Pit, or wherever they keep husbands who would rather research how to milk a cow than go get their lovely wives some ham already.