non-paternity event

George Thompson george.thompson at NYU.EDU
Mon Feb 22 01:25:03 UTC 2010

"Midnight creep" wasn't a part of the idiom that I learned at my mother's knee.  I know it, and "'fore-day creep", from some old-time blues records, I couldn't say which ones.  I would interpret "midnight creep" as the act of sneaking into an of-limits bed, and "'fore-day creep" as the act of sneaking back out again.  But that's probably my rationalization rather than traditional use.

Why isn't this called a "non-connubial event"?  Paternity does occur, after all.


George A. Thompson
Author of A Documentary History of "The African Theatre", Northwestern Univ. Pr., 1998, but nothing much lately.

----- Original Message -----
From: Wilson Gray <hwgray at GMAIL.COM>
Date: Sunday, February 21, 2010 2:55 pm
Subject: Re: non-paternity event

> George writes:
> "... midnight creep ..."
> Is that actually missing from HDAS? _Creep_ itself is there, though
> missing a slightly different nuance from the one that I'm accustomed
> to. I.e., one creeps _away_ from one's significant other and creeps
> _to_ a potential new significant other or _to_ someone else's
> significant other. One creeps _on_ one's significant other and creeps
> back _in_ to one's own home after the assignation. That is, 'mongst me
> and my handlers, there was always a sexual nuance.
> You got me tossin' in my bed
> Talkin' in my sleep
> Now's the time
> For our _midnight creep_
> Good Lovin', performed by The Clovers, ca.1954 (off the top of my
> head), composed by the late, great Ahmet Ertegün, under his nom de
> boogie-joogie, "Nugetre."
> -Wilson
> On Sun, Feb 21, 2010 at 1:50 PM, George Thompson
> <george.thompson at> wrote:
> > ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> > Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> > Poster:       George Thompson <george.thompson at NYU.EDU>
> > Subject:      non-paternity event
> > -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> >
> > In an idle moment --  which I seem to have many of -- I was looking
> at a recent issue of the New England Biographical and Genealogical
> Register, specifically at an article attempting to sort out 3 guys
> named Isaac Phelps, who were all running about Windsor, Conn. in the
> early 1700s.  A part of the research involved a DNA test, I suppose of
> several living men descended from the original American Phelps.
> Regrettably, the DNA tests were inconsistent, a fact presented with
> the remark that evidently "an early non-paternity event" had occurred.
> > This was a new term to me, but I supposed it to be a genealogist's
> euphemism for saying that somebody, sometime back when, had made that
> midnight creep while somebody else was off to market to sell his pumpkins.
> > It's also new to the OED.  I find that it seems to be entering
> academic social science writing.
> > Proquest show 7 occurrences beginning in 2000, the first 6 in
> connection with genealogical research, but the latest from something
> called Psychology & Psychiatry Journal, published in Atlanta, issue of
> March 21, 2009. pg. 108
> > "According to a study from Vienna, Austria, "Nonpaternity (i.e.,
> discrepant biological versus social fatherhood) if affects many issues
> of interests to psychologists, including familial dynamics,
> interpersonal relationships, sexuality, and fertility, and therefore
> represents an important topic for psychological research. The advent
> of modern contraceptive methods, particularly the market launch of the
> birth-control pill in the early 1960s and its increased use ever
> since, should have affected rates of nonpaternity (i.e., discrepant
> genetic and social fatherhood)."
> >  (This is an oddly garbled article.  In addition to "if affects
> many" in the passage quoted, there is "The eligible. database.
> Comprised 32 published samples")
> >
> > I was of course shocked to think that Puritans might do that sort of
> thing.  More to the point, some of my ancestors also roamed Windsor,
> Conn. in the early 1700s.  Might one of my 128
> great-great-great-great-great grandmothers have. . . ?   Surely not.
> >
> > GAT
> >
> > George A. Thompson
> > Author of A Documentary History of "The African Theatre",
> Northwestern Univ. Pr., 1998, but nothing much lately.
> >
> > ------------------------------------------------------------
> > The American Dialect Society -
> >
> --
> -Wilson
> –––
> All say, "How hard it is that we have to die!"––a strange complaint to
> come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
> –Mark Twain
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society -

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