Here’s an all too frequent occurrence in my house. I awake from sleep in the wee small hours of the morning, ravenous. This is because at dinner we’ve started eating more quinoa, who I thought played striker for Real Madrid, and kale, who sounds like your roommate from Hotchkiss. We’re doing this to set an example of healthy eating for the kids, but I’m not completely comfortable with it. For one thing we’re nothing like the organic food families you see in television commercials. Sure, we enjoy each other’s company, but the family has never been to an apple orchard together, or composted kitchen waste in our backyard, at least not intentionally. I’ve driven a Subaru, but only as a rental on ski trips, so I don’t think that counts. And when the hipster at the grocery cash register judges my choice, I ask him to triple-bag the milk and double-bag everything else. In other words, when it comes to natural foods, we’re not naturals.
Part of the problem is priorities. America is home to the world’s greatest scientific minds, but they spend an inordinate amount time in the lab concocting hybrids like broccolini. If you are unfamiliar with this vegetable, spoiler alert: what sounds like broccoli’s cool cousin who did a semester in Milan and now drives a Vespa everywhere is actually just a lankier and no tastier version of the original. You’d think such brilliant scientists would focus on more societally useful goods, or failing that truly awesome ideas, like a walnut that once eaten gives you the pipes of Robert Goulet. But I guess they’d rather churn out more and more hybrid green vegetables, hence my dilemma.
The missus says teaching the kids to make good choices at dinner is an important life-skill, so even though I hate the word life-skill, I play ball. And why shouldn’t she? Her little stomach can run efficiently through the night on the bouillon cube she had for dinner. Same for the kids with the little bird portions on their plates. I on the other hand am foraging like a Continental soldier the night before the Battle of Trenton. I’d take one for the team here if there were a solitary thing in our kitchen that could tide me over until dawn. Something, anything that didn’t taste like the periodic table of elements. But there isn’t, and I’ll put the reason why as plain as I can: it’s 3:00 AM, and I can’t find the Oreos.
It’s not just that she doesn’t buy Oreos anymore. That problem I could easily solve for. It’s that she delights in running search-and-destroy missions, pitching whatever contraband of mine that she finds. Example: I hid some Double Stufs behind a massive flour jar in the pantry, one that I’m pretty sure conveyed with the house. How she moved the jar remains a mystery, but move it she did because the cookies are gone, whisked away in the night like a Cold War Soviet dissident. I know what you’re thinking – just be craftier with your hiding places. But come on, man, these are cookies, not Hustler, and I’m just a hungry, middle-aged man, not some hormone-addled teenager. I’m not robing up and going out to the tool shed every night.
Looking around our kitchen and its grim snack prospects is pretty sobering. Imagine the Kool-Aid Man, only he’s busting through the kitchen wall to get out rather than in. How much grain can one family eat? The last time this many sacks were stacked in one place, Marines were loading them onto a chopper. There’s really only one problem with a house with no Oreos, but unfortunately it’s a big one: there are no Oreos. How can my beloved not see this? Even heroin addicts get methadone in detox, and my need for that sweet, sweet creme filling is no less chemical. Here’s the internal conflict that she blithely ignores night after night:
Brain to stomach: Alright, I get it, you need something. Eyes, what are our options?
Eyes to brain: I’m seeing Kelp-Bites, Pine-Scones and something called Just Eat This.
Colon to brain: Please, anything but Pine-Scones.
Brain to stomach: What do you say, stomach, Kelp-Bites?
Stomach to brain: Do I have to aggravate the ulcer?
Brain to stomach: Okay, okay, we’ll keep looking for Oreos! Then can we please sleep?
Maybe she’s right. Maybe this is how it has to be, zero-tolerance, to usher in the new age of clean living. But maybe, just maybe, we can cut the old man some slack and let me keep eating my late-night Oreos.