It was 3am on a Saturday morning and Joseph was slumped in front of the television, ploughing his way through another packet of plain chocolate digestives. He had found that they tasted different depending on which way up you held them. Indeed, he was learning all kinds of new things now. He patted his rounded belly.
It hadn’t always been like this. For the first twenty three years of his life he hadn’t even liked biscuits. Sweets, chocolate, cake even but never biscuits. They just didn’t appeal to him. Back then he had a social life but that all seemed rather distant now, and a little sad.
It had all changed the night he met Gemma. It had been at a special, strobe-free rave for epilepsy sufferers. Joseph didn’t have epilepsy but he had a thing for girls who did. Gemma was a vision of loveliness in gaudy neon eratically waving glowsticks around in the middle of the dancefloor. Like a moth to a glowstick Joseph danced up to her, swinging his own glowsticks with unchecked enthusiasm. She didn’t seem to mind.
It was only after twenty minutes that Joseph realised she hadn’t understood what he was trying to do: chat her up using morse code through the medium of glowsticks. Her replies to his messages were garbled and she seemed confused at his continuous looks of puzzlement as his brain did mental gymnastics. She had had enough of this messing around, took a few steps towards him and shoved her tongue down his mouth. He again tried morse code but soon gave up.
They went on a few dates and everything seemed to be going well. She liked knitting and Michael Jackson but more than that she liked biscuits. In fact, she loved biscuits. Joseph would refuse when she offered him a piece of shortbread and have to sit in silence watching her savour the taste. It was like watching her cheat on him with a bakery. One night she dropped a bombshell. “I could never love a man who didn’t like biscuits,” she told him. Joseph knew that something must be done.
Since the age of 14 Joseph had corresponded with a Belgian pen pal by the name of Jerry de Bungleer and he now recounted his troubles in his best Flemish and sent them off in the post. A week later he received a reply from Jerry who had an amazing solution to Joseph’s problem. He had just completed his degree in Brain Surgery at the University of Brugges and had adapted a new technique as part of his final year project. He claimed that he would be able to ‘re-wire’ Joseph’s brain to allow changes in tastes – he could make Joseph like biscuits. As Joseph would be his first patient he was willing to do it for free.
Joseph travelled down on the Eurostar and the met Jerry in a Parisian hotel. He had expected him to need more equipment but instead all he had was a vegetable knife, a screwdriver and a needle and thread. They enjoyed a few pints together in the bar downstairs and when Joseph was nice and relaxed they went upstairs for re-wiring.
Gemma noticed the difference straight away. Joseph had bought her some biscuits in the duty free shop to bring back for her but when she met him at the train station all that was left was a few crumbs in a box. Then, at her house she left him in the kitchen for a few moments only to find that all the biscuits had been hoovered up by his roving, ravenous mouth. She asked him if he was feeling ok. He had never felt better, he replied.
Everywhere he could find biscuits he chomped his way through them – a whole new world open up before him. He literally could not keep his hands off them, even when Gemma opened a new packet of biscuits, even when she had just taken one out of the packet and was lifting it to her mouth he could not help but intercept, he just had to eat that biscuit.
Their relationship lasted only two weeks after the operation. She broke the news to him whilst he worked his way through a packet of bourbons. “I could never love a man who likes biscuits more than me.” Joseph didn’t even look up.