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Breakfast at Midnight
From the beginning of our relationship, Nathan and I had an odd tradition of breakfast at midnight. I still can’t remember how it started, but I do remember the sight of him gleefully stuffing his face with banana pancakes and declaring, “Breakfast tastes better at midnight. It’s been scientifically proven” I never questioned the legitimacy of this fact since Nathan is very intelligent, and he had met my standards for intellectual compatibility.
As the months continued to fly by, and our breakfasts at midnight became a routine part of our weekends three simple, but very strict rules came about. The first being that tube socks—the kind old men wear to the gym—were a must. This was the only rule that Nathan had insisted upon, and it came into effect after the fourth time I had stepped on his bare feet with my five-inch heels. Nathan voiced on many occasions that my shoes more closely resembled weaponry than footwear, and upon inspecting the many red, irritated impressions on his foot, I conceded. Swearing on my Kitchen-Aid mixer, I promised I’d always trade my stilettos for a pair of his tube socks.
Later in the summer I decided that Nathan was no longer allowed to contribute his culinary efforts to our meals. I should have created this rule weeks earlier when he had tried concocting strawberry kiwi waffles. His reasoning behind this was that, “if strawberry kiwi tastes good in Snapple form, it ought to taste delicious as a waffle.” I won’t go into too much detail about the revolting, grey dough, but I assure you I would have gladly eaten a box of band-aids over his breakfast. The Nathan-is-not-allowed-to-cook rule came from what is now referred to as “the fire incident” which took place when he decided to cook bacon on the stovetop grill.
“I’m going for that smoky taste that can only be achieved on a grill.” He stated this like he was Emril Lagasse enlightening his live, studio audience with great culinary secrets.
I knew Nathan well enough to know he only enjoyed using the grill because he could hold the tongs, and stand around the kitchen with a manly exuberance that has yet to be lost in the process of evolution. Too enthralled by the boxing match that was taking place on the kitchen TV, Nathan had completely forgotten to tend to his only job of making bacon. By the time I came back into the kitchen I saw charred bacon and a blazing fire. Even the roll of paper towels that were idiotically placed near the stove were burning, and if left unnoticed would have spread to the stack of cookbooks and the mahogany cabinetry.
“God damn it, Nathan. You can’t even make bacon?” I cried.
“Stop acting like a irritated monkey. Even Martha Stewart burnt a few bunt cakes when she first started.”
I gasped in horror. “NO SHE DIDN’T!” I yelled.
I felt a deep need to protect Martha. She’s on of my idols right on top of the list with Rosa Parks and Jennifer Lopez. I snatched the tongs from his hands.
“You don’t deserve to hold the tongs.” I looked at him with disgust before he plopped himself on a chair and watched the match with enthusiasm. He didn’t seem to mind that his cooking privileges were revoked.
The last rule created came to be the most important. It was the only one that has never been broken since the evening it came into existence. One night after attending his cousin’s wedding, we felt a midnight breakfast was necessary; neither of us found foie gras and truffles appealing. Things were fairly normal; I cooked while Nathan stood in the kitchen completely useless. He placed his iPod into the speakers, and to my astonishment began singing along to Mariah Carey like he was performing on a Las Vegas concert stage. I know if Mariah was to ever hear his impersonation she be been deeply offended. About halfway through the second chorus I was able to locate my mouth.
“Nathan,” I said, “I think your vagina is showing.”
His charming smile disappeared, and I could tell that his ego had been severely fractured. Getting him to speak to me after that was like cajoling a four year old. When he finally was on speaking terms with me after eating my pancakes, I promised him I would never goad him on his music choices again during our midnight breakfasts. Out of this promise came the rule that no matter how bad the song or artist, neither one of us could make fun of each other for it.
This last rule liberated us to play the music we denied owning, but secretly loved. Breakfast at Midnight not only became a time for mouth watering pancakes, but it was a time when Nathan and I enjoyed bopping our heads and flinging our limbs about the place as we moved to the beat of Reliant K, Miley Cyrus, Mariah Carey, and Vanilla Ice. I believe in some cultures out movements could be considered dancing.
For months I was worried that Nathan would be horrified after we saw me acting like…myself. During these times I wouldn’t bother dressing up, I was bossy in the kitchen, and when I danced I looked more like I was going into an epileptic seizure.
When, I thought, will Nathan realize he is dating a freak?
While I was filled with these worries, I couldn’t stop myself from this natural behavior. It felt so good to be weird—it felt good to be myself and not care. I was enjoying it so much that I began to wonder what it would look like if I acted this way outside the four walls of my boyfriend’s apartment.
And then I did. I began saying what was on my mind, and stopped worrying about the reactions. If I felt like it I would eat that third cupcake and state so with pride. I would grove to music in public if the mood struck me. And I’d be lying through my teeth if I said I didn’t like it.
While I’m still in the beginning stages of my senior year, already I can feel the difference not caring makes. I have enough stress in my life from the day to day hustle and bustle of school, and a preoccupation with the hundreds of thoughts people may have about me is not how I prefer to spend my time.
I know I can’t tell people to stop caring about what others think because it’s far easier said than done. I just hope that every person spending time filtering their thoughts and actions to seem normal in the eyes of others soon realize they are harming themselves more than benefiting the people they are changing for. I’ve only been living by this new philosophy for a few months, but I can tell that my choice to be the unfiltered version of myself is the most liberating decision I have made.