The Sword of Patience

I stared at the cookie for three days. It sat planted on the counter wrapped in clear plastic, next to Russ’ insulated lunchbox that resembled the modular toolshed from my childhood, with its gambrel roof. Every morning Russ sailed past on his way to work, grabbing the cooler by its handle on top, plucking it from the counter like a weed from the garden, leaving the cookie exposed, a lone impatiens wilting in a sun-filled  desert. 

Russ was still asleep Saturday morning when I remembered the cookie was still there. Hidden once again by the lunchbox, I fished it from the shade, giving the cookie a few squeezes like an avocado at the grocery store, while I waited for my coffee to finish brewing. Despite the plastic coating, the cookie had lost most of its suppleness. It was well on its way to becoming a chocolate-chip biscotti. Carefully, I unwrapped the plastic and placed the cookie on a paper towel, zapping it in the microwave for twenty seconds. Russ came out of the bedroom, rubbing his eyes and yawning, as I shoved a broken piece of hot cookie into my mouth, before it hit the floor. 

Incredulous, he asked, Are you eating my cookie? 

Yes! What the fuck, Russ? Who keeps a cookie, or a cupcake for that matter, for three days without eating it?

He shook his head. 

You’re unbelievable.

Well, this qualifies as a mercy kill, if you ask me! You have to eat them, Russ, before they turn to stone. Otherwise, they are suitable to mark their own graves and that’s about it!

He was still shaking his head.

I can’t believe you just ate the cookie you gave me …

… Just like the cupcake!

Well, only a psychopath leaves a cupcake in the fridge for three days! I’m never bringing you another treat.

Well it’s not like I get to eat them anyway!

I sipped my coffee and pondered the Stanford Marshmallow Test, just like I did when I ate his red velvet cupcake. If I was a child in that test, would I have chosen one small marshmallow to eat right then, or would I have waited, the prospect of earning two marshmallows much more compelling? The test results revealed children who waited, the ones who delayed instant gratification, tended to have better life outcomes, educational attainment, and body mass index. Wow. What a heavy list determined by a couple of fluffy marshmallows! 

When I ate Russ’ cupcake, I was sure I fell into the first group of children. My life’s journey suddenly snapped to comprehension. But now, after eating his cookie, I am confused by the results. I’m straddling the implications of surrendering to instant gratification with flat out reaping the rewards. Even more confusing, I can’t figure out if Russ has mastered the marshmallow test, or obliterated it. Russ didn’t garner double the treats because he waited. He garnered none.

What I am certain of, is Russ would have tsk tsk’ed the chalky texture of the treats, blaming the bakery, if he had broken into them on the fourth day. Not only did I save the treats from extinction, but I saved Russ from disappointment.

Russ has patience in spades. We looked at campers last weekend, two years ahead of schedule. He has done his research and narrowed his list down to three brands. But when we arrived on the lot, Russ wanted to inspect every camper parked there. And if the doors were unlocked, he did. I walked inside eight or nine different campers, and gathered all the information I needed. I had already voted, “Winnebago,” at the very beginning of this discussion, and now, after our reconnaissance mission, Winnebago was still my vote. (Disclosure: I voted for Airstream initially, but that was shot down on price alone.) 

 Russ drove to another lot.

 I asked, What are you doing?

Looking at campers. 

Are these on your list? 

Rhetorical. I already knew they weren’t. 

No, but they’re here, so we might as well look.

I appreciated this logic, but then again, if we were standing in a shopping mall and he uttered these same words, I would run to the nearest exit to sit by the car. Logic is subject to falling on its own sword of fallacy, when any pageantry is usurped by pedantry. I had to save myself.

Ok, fine, I said, my voice singsong.  But I’m staying in the car.

Wait. What?… Why?

Because, Russ, I’m hitting my limit, nearing the edge. Once that happens, I’m out. Show me two or three brands, and that’s it.  I’ve looked at enough. Eight or nine is plenty. Besides, it’s mostly junk anyway.

You’re so fucking bougie! Russ accused.

Bullshit! You’re bougier than I am. Worse, you’re closet bougie!

Russ shook his head.

When did you become so high maintenance? …

… How did we end up together?

I’m not high maintenance! I snorted. 

Oh yeah you are!

Whatever…The fact is, you are bougier than me. You just didn’t know it until I showed up. 

We didn’t look at any more campers after that. We went to lunch instead. Russ has a surplus of patience, but I do not. According to the results of the Stanford Marshmallow Test, Russ is primed for better life outcomes, than a person such as myself. Yet, I’ll state the obvious: We have taken two different paths, only to arrive at the same place. Besides, we are looking at campers. How bougie can we really be?

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