I was surrounded by selfish people at the dinner table. They called themselves my friends. Each of them self-centered, self-aggrandizing, blind to my struggle. Who wanted to hear about Jill’s volunteer work with the hospice program? Those people were on their way out, nearing their expiration date. Life was for the living and the living wanted dessert. Then Kyle had to tell us about his client, some guy facing 12 years. Kyle provided that guy with dress clothes for court appearances but couldn’t bring out the dessert for his dinner guests – his friends!
Yeah, yeah Kyle, I thought. Thanks for sharing. Now shut up and focus on the task at hand, man, and break out that dessert.
Kyle finally placed the cookies on the table. I sat rigid as Pavlov’s dog and waited the signal that would eliminate the space between me and the sweets. They were not the premium special batch cookies available at ShopRite, but the cheaper pre-packaged assortment – always a little too dry and shed their sprinkles in the clear plastic container, where it would be gross, weird or both to collect the colored specks with my moistened fingertip. It didn’t matter to me that they were low-quality cookies, an afterthought while Kyle had been at ShopRite. At the dinner table, the cookies took hostage of my thoughts.
Kyle was a thoughtless, selfish host. He continued and blah-blah-blahed all his self-congratulatory crap when the seal on the cookie container needed to be broken. The clock couldn’t start until that seal was broken. Rules were rules. I could have a cookie after waiting five minutes, not starting when the cookies were placed on the table, but when the seal of the container was broken. And the seal could not be broken by me.
Only I knew the rules, but I was no cheat. I could control myself. I could wait until that seal was broken and then wait five minutes. Five full minutes. I would sit at Kyle and Ted’s dining table, rigid and focused – all night if I had to – while they cleared the table, loaded the dishwasher, turned off the dining room lights, went upstairs to bed, and left me and the cookies neglected and alone in the dark.
What kind of a person did that to a guest, a long-time friend? Those forlorn cookies on the table were for me. Someone at the damn table – anybody but me! – needed to focus on what had to be done and break the damn seal so I could start the five-minute countdown so I could have a fucking cheap cookie. Was that too much to ask of friends?