Dear Midnight Snack

Dear Midnight Snack,

Sure. I'll peruse the pantry after the sun goes down. I love to sit down at my desk and get some last minute work done with a trusty mango and a big bowl of pistachios at my side. And who hasn't stumbled into a Taco Bell at three in the morning and slurred out the order for a number three, plus an extra chicken soft shell, then stuffed ten "Fire" packets into the bag and run out the door only to pass out ten minutes later on a picnic table in a public park down the street.

But you, Midnight Snack; you're a horse of a different color. I've seen you on TV shows, commercials and movies. A real midnight snack is when a middle-aged man in pajama bottoms staggers bleary-eyed into the kitchen with tousled hair and a yawn. This isn't "4th meal." This man isn't eating something before going to bed, or staying up so late he had to eat a second dinner. He woke up to eat again. If anything, The Midnight Snack is like a pre-breakfast.

There's a coziness to the midnight snack. The fridge is always full. The man is pleasantly plump, often wrapped in a warm bath robe. The rest of the family is tucked away in their beds, sleeping peacefully through the night, with the possible exception of that incorrigible teenager who's trying to sneak in past curfew. Midnight snacks only seem to happen in suburban, middle-class homes. I'm forced to assume all the rich people have butlers to retrieve their food stuffs, and that poor people fall sleep every night under the restless, blue glow of the TV, with their hand lodged in a bag of half-eaten Doritos.

I'd like to get into the habit of midnight snacking. It seems like an easy way to put on a quick twenty pounds and find security and family tranquility in a cold, heartless world at the same time. I want to be fat and happy. But I'm having a hard time working out the logistics. I hardly have time for breakfast as it is. And when I go to bed at night, it's usually because I'm tired. If I were hungry, I would have eaten before I went to bed. I don't suddenly wake up in the middle of the night, having discovered a hitherto undetected hunger pang that I'd somehow missed three hours earlier. I'm not sure what's happening in the bodies of these happy-go-lucky midnight snackers I see in Hellman's mayonnaise commercials, but when I go to bed my digestive track pretty much shuts down. I don't wake up to eat for the same reason that I don't wake up to take a big shit. If I get up in the middle of the night, it's usually because I'm having an anxiety attack from the dawning realization that my checking account is about to overdraw because I forgot to make a transfer from savings.

I've always heard that old people sleep less. Just like back hair and being irritated by drafty rooms, maybe the Midnight Snack is a right of passage- one of those special milestones in a man's life. Something else I've realized is that one my favorite parts of the Midnight Snack... is saying Midnight Snack. So in lieu of midnight snacking myself, I've written a humble ode to the Midnight Snack- a small poem, dedicated to this cozy bulwark of American mythos.

The Midnight Snack

God knows I've taken a whack at the Midnight Snack.
The main thrust of my attack at the snack was back
at Jack Black's vacation shack
in the mountains of the Adirondack.

It was almost time for a midnight snack and we had
a stack of Big Macs in a slack, jet-black sack
perched high on a spice rack
in the kitchen of Jack Black's Adirondack shack.

It was me, Jack Black, and Jack's friend Zach.
Jack Black gave his lips a smack, and loosened his slacks.
I hacked three towels off the towel rack.
"Zach," said Jack Black. "Hand me the sack."

But before Zach could take a crack at handing Jack the Macs,
he whacked his back against the wall tack holding back Jack Black's ski rack.

The ski rack leaned back, ripped out the phone jack
which went slack and cracked back on a stack of black track back packs.

The back pack on the top of the stack
fell down in a sort of aerial attack,
cracking the spice rack that was holding the jet-black sack,
inside of which the Big Macs had been neatly stacked.

I was taken aback.
All six packs flew open like bomb racks,
The Big Macs exploded like bubble packs on a race track,
and still I lack the knack for the Midnight Snack.

Sebastian Braff

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