Have you ever eaten a cookie and lost or misplaced the other half? It’s a terrible feeling.
Here’s what happens (this is scientifically proven, science just hasn’t figured it out yet). When you pull the cookie out of the cookie jar / barista’s hand, your mind calculate how much cookie is soon going to be inside your stomach.
“Ah,” it says. “There’s approximately 6 bites of cookie (BOC) right there.”
And although your brain is very bad at estimating almost everything else, it is really good at estimating BOC units. Like, insanely good. Leave it to man to have a really sophisticated system that is incredibly useless.
It then gears your tongue up for the job: “tongue!”
“I need you to prepare enough saliva and mouthal anticipation for exactly 6 BOCs, give or take 5 miliBOCs.”
“Got it captain! I hope it has chocolate chips this time…”
“From my vantage point it appears you will not be disappointed”
“Oh goody, slobbering right up!”
And at once your entire body steps into the role of cookie-eater.
What then happens if, horror of horrors, the last bite of cookie crumbles into the gutter before you have a chance to eat it? You are left with the taste of absence-of-cookie in your mouth for the rest of the day.
Nothing can make it go away, not even another cookie. Your mouth is not stupid. It knows that it could have had two whole cookies, and now it has only eaten two minus one bite.
A similar thing happens if you misplace your cookie. You get busy and leave it somewhere, but there is a part of your brain that remains fully alert and reminds you: “You still have rightful ownership of cookie somewhere… somewhere out there is your cookie waiting to be eaten… it is pining for you, faithfully waiting your return.” And that empty feeling in your mouth propels you until you find that missing piece of cookie or just go insane.
Why do I bring this up? Because I have this same cookie syndrome, but with conversations.
When I begin a conversation, my mind calculates that there are X number of points that need to be made, until a resolution is reached in the form of an idea being fully expressed.
And by idea, I mean the nuances of the practical joke I played on my co-worker three and a half years ago. Or why dill pickles are superior to vinegar pickles in over 32 ways.
It does not matter. There are ideas in my head, and they must be extracted, through my mouth, in a concise and orderly fashion.
The problem? My wife is as dual minded as I am single. Minded, that is. I’m not actually single, since I have a wife, as you may recall from two sentences ago.
So I’ll begin an idea. And somewhere around the fourth word my wife will say, “Oh look, a tomato.” And I, unnoticing, will switch topics right along with her.
And so we will begin to discuss the many virtues and flaws of tomatoes. I will animatedly contribute my two cents to the conversation, excited to share my knowledge of how tomato plants are poisonous and discuss that really lame ketchup advertisement I once saw.
But somewhere around the fourth word my wife will say, “I really like my new boots…” And so it goes, to quote Vonnegut.
What eventually happens is that the delicate part of my brain that is devoted to the sole purpose of holding on to fragments of cookies and thoughts, begins to overload, and begins to sort of smoke at the edges.
I am usually not aware of it at first, but soon I come to realize that there is a deep, empty feeling inside of me. The feeling of multiple half-baked thoughts, partially formulated ideas, and inadequately expressed emotions.
I become a tortured soul, a mere visage of a human being, an external frame with nothing but vacuum within. What is man if not an idea machine? And what is an unformulated idea machine if not a broken man?
And so, as my psyche begins a systematic shutdown to prevent permanent damage to the mainframe, and as my face registers the blue screen of death, I curl in a fetal position in the corner of the house.
Only to find, and promptly eat, that last bite of cookie that had fallen under the couch a week ago.
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