Staying up late, that extra eclair – sometimes there is virtue in a vice | Coco Khan

No woman wants to feel like their partner’s mother, but sometimes there is no escape. I feel it most at night. “Go to bed!” I say, pointing towards the bedroom. “It’s 1am and you have school, sorry, work in the morning.” But my bloodshot-eyed boyfriend-man does not move from the sofa, muttering something about “just another five minutes” of Lewis Hamilton highlights on YouTube, which I know will actually be 20.

“I don’t want to nag,” I’ll say another time, lying in bed with my sleeping mask flipped, squinting. “But this is madness. If you’re going to work 12-hour days, you need your rest. I’ve seen how battered you get.”

“You’re right,” he’ll say, scrolling through Instagram with bleary eyes. “But I don’t want to go to bed.”

And so the battle rages on, night after night. There’s a delicious term for this doing the rounds on social media: revenge bedtime procrastination. A rough translation of a Chinese expression, it’s where busy people (parents of young children, the overworked) sacrifice sleep in exchange for a few hours of entertainment – a tiny act of revenge on the daytime hours that insist you must work or run errands (though I’m fairly certain the only revenge my boyfriend is getting is on himself).

Sometimes a bit of bad can do some good. Sometimes self-destruction (small and controlled: staying up too late, that extra eclair) can be exactly what is needed to keep on going, to keep delivering the good. And so, though I cannot promise not to force him to bed, nor whinge the next time the blue light keeps me up, I will try to understand a little better: to see the virtue in his vice, and be there with bacon bap-shaped gestures of solidarity. After all, revenge might be a dish best served cold, but it requires its coffee hot.

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