Sunday, October 28, 2012

One Minute to Midnight

It’s midnight. Embrace it.

Today (by which I mean tonight), I’m reviving a one-time mainstay of this blog, and I’m doing it in the spirit of the upcoming holiday.
mesonoxian (mez-o-NOCKS-ee-an) — adjective: of or pertaining to midnight.
But I’m also doing a bad job, I’m afraid, because the history here doesn’t make for such an interesting story: it’s just mesos, “middle,” plus the genitive of the Latin noctis, “night.” That’s very straightforward, if melodic in the way that vespertime puts all things evening-related into a linguistically beautiful context. So instead of delving into the wordiness of it all, I’m instead going to offer your twelve thoughts on the subject of midnight.
  1. As a kid, I thought of midnight as mythical. Like Never Never Land, it could be pondered but not actually reached, for the ability to maintain consciousness that long would render a person superhuman.
  2. During my twenties, however, staying up until midnight (whether for work or recreation) became commonplace, and the witching hour got pushed back to three- or even five-o’-clock.
  3. Today, I’m usually in bed by midnight but awake when it arrives. And reading. And sober.
  4. It bothers me when people refer to 12 a.m. or 12 p.m., because I know that the twelves are neither ante nor post meridiem. They are the meridiems.
  5. It was the first time I can recall being awake at midnight. I was terrified. I hid under the blankets, even though I was smart enough to realize that a few layers of fabric would do little to protect me from the slashes and gouges of monsters.
  6. Today, I’m unsure whether I was better off being terrified by imagined monsters or simply being intimidated by the real challenges of grown-up life.
  7. Once, as a kid, I went to bed and then woke up around midnight as a result of a noise that sounded like someone fake gagging in an especially theatrical fashion. In the morning, I learned two of the sheep had died. No one else heard the noise or knew what I was talking about. To this day, I have no idea what would have caused that noise.
  8. I almost wrote this entry about a different word, quarternight — the point halfway between sundown and midnight.
  9. I can remember having a babysitter and being allowed to watch the start of Saturday Night Live, so long as the TV was turned off by the time my parents got home. In particular, I remember a Bill Murray-hosted episode with a sketch called “The Whipmaster.” I was never allowed to watch it all the way to “Weekend Update,” however. Perhaps my elders were trying to protect me from Dennis Miller.
  10. “Midday to Midnight” is an unlikely song, for a number of reasons, but I am glad that it exists.
  11. I can say with certainty that I watched midnight broadcasts of the following movies: A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Fellini’s Satyricon, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Mulholland Drive, Spirited Away and The Brady Bunch Movie.
  12. For all the epiphanies I’ve had during sleepless midnights, I’ve had at least as many pointless moments of anxiety about matters that I would have recognized as unimportant at any other hour.
I shall think of something better for next week.

Previous words of the week after the jump.

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