Monday, January 13, 2014

The Last Cupcake

It’s a trap and a toss-up, all at the same time.

Two possibilities. I can win by taking the last cupcake for myself, or I can lose. It’s a stress-infused, high-stakes gamble!

Susan occasionally cooks and bakes all sorts of tasty treats, including peanut butter, shortbread, or chocolate chip cookies. There’s also banana bread, sinful nanaimo bars and her family-famous oreo wafer cake! Over the holidays, you can add cherry cake to that list, along with mincemeat or lemon tarts. The cupcakes appear, unannounced, at any time of year.

These treats she prepares can usually be found assembled or stacked neatly on a foil-covered plate on top of the kitchen counter. From what I’ve been able to deduce, our assignment is to consume all prepared treats so that none of Susan’s kitchen talent and effort goes to waste.

I’m always happy to oblige! The problem arises when there’s only one remaining lemon tart or, in this case, one last cupcake.

There are times I lift off the foil to find a last slice of banana bread, or a last cookie.

Scenarios abound. If I eat the last cookie and someone else had plans for it, I lose. If I eat the last cookie and Susan had hoped it would be enjoyed by our son, I lose. If I don’t eat the last cookie and no one else ever does, I lose. I win if I eat it and no one had plans for it. I win if I eat it and no one else was ever going to eat it!

These dilemmas are toss-ups. They can go either way. Generally speaking, I’m not at liberty to conduct a poll in those moments when I lift off the foil to discover one last cookie, or cupcake. Everyone’s asleep. Everyone’s gone. Everyone’s busy. It’s hit or miss. If I leave the last cookie or last slice and it’s never consumed, Susan wonders, with indignation, why we didn’t finish her cookies.

In the past, I would hesitate to take the last cookie or banana bread slice, thinking, what if someone else wants to eat it. I would leave it and, inevitably, several days later, I would have to explain that I left it on the plate in case someone else wanted to eat it, or bring it to work, or school, as a snack.

The other day, I lifted off the foil to find a last cupcake. The sweet smelling vanilla cupcake was covered with icing and dotted with sprinkles. Frustrated by unfounded accusations I might not fully appreciate her cooking, I’ve recently begun to consume last cookies, tarts, bars and slices with reckless abandon and with little thought about who, if anyone at all, may have planned to eat it. It’s been working well for me.

Until last week.

Without hesitation and living dangerously, I popped the last cupcake in my mouth and went about my day. I had foolishly left the foil over the empty plate and when, hours later, I overheard Susan ask Tristan whether he wanted the last cupcake, I froze. As a bead of sweat lurched toward my eyelid, Tristan responded, saying a cupcake sounded yummy.

I thought I coud fit under the couch, but I was wrong.

During the subsequent interrogation, concepts such as greed and thoughtlessness were discussed, although most of the interrogation seemed to be rhetorical.

There will be another plate and, with it, another moment will arise where I’m forced to weigh my options. Better I weigh them than myself.

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