I once had a brush with what proved to be a fascinating case study of human behavior.
It was ninth grade. I had a locker. I refused to lock my locker, probably out of some strange sense of teenage rebellion and/or laziness. A friend of mine—we shall call her Beth—asked if she could share my locker because it was closer to her classes than the one she had been assigned.
“All right,” I said, “but I don’t lock my locker. And by now I’ve lost the combo, so that’s never going to be in the cards here.”
Beth said she understood the law of the land. So I agreed to grant her asylum.
But what I really should have passed on was the warning that I thought went unsaid. You see, Lockerville was a dangerous land. It wasn’t that I had any illusions that people wouldn’t try to steal the crap out of my stuff; it was that I only kept textbooks in there so that no one would bother.
Beth seemed to have a sunnier view of human nature. And in her absolutely unwarranted faith in the human race, she decided to leave her CD player on the locker’s top shelf.
That thing sat there for no more than seven measly hours before it was gone with the mother-lovin’ wind.
This, in and of itself, did not surprise me at all. Here’s what did surprise me: in the center of the top shelf, in the exact spot where Beth’s CD player had once sat, was an unopened package of chocolate chip cookies.
These were not Beth’s cookies. They were not my cookies.
There was only one logical conclusion: someone had broken into my locker, stolen Beth’s CD player, and replaced it with cookies.
What a weird honkin’ thing to do.
Seriously, think about what this act implies. The thief opens the locker, sees the CD player, knows that he is going to take the CD player, but must also on some level understand that this is a nasty, unethical thing to do. However, instead of letting that stop him, he thinks, “Wait a tick, I know what will soften the blow!,” and then he leaves us cookies.
Never in a million years did Beth think someone would steal her CD player. I totally did, but never in a million years did I think a thief would be considerate enough to swap in cookies.
We handled the situation accordingly.
Beth was livid. “MY CD PLAYER!” she shrieked to the heavens.
I was pleasantly surprised. “Hey, free cookies!” I exclaimed to no one in particular.
Beth did not appreciate my positive attitude. “Fuck the cookies!” she barked at me. “I had a CD in there!”
I paused for a moment. “So… do you not want the cookies?”
“No, I don’t want the cookies!” Beth screamed. “Why the fuck would I want the cookies?! What I want is my mother-fucking CD player! Who the fuck would steal my CD player—”
This went on for some time. At the end of the day, Beth went home with no CD player, disillusioned with human nature, and I went home with free cookies, feeling a little confused but mostly just impressed.
To be clear, I’m not endorsing criminal behavior. All I’m saying is, if you have to go there, you might as well go there considerately.
It’s been a long winter, but the weather’s finally getting nice in New England. I imagine lots of people are gonna be out today enjoying the first 60 degree day we’ve had in ages. But just because it seems like spring is finally here, that doesn’t mean we should forgive the natural world for the eleventy-billion blizzards it decided to throw our way. Some sort of protest is warranted. Now, just staying inside seems like cutting off one’s nose to spite one’s face. What we need is a way to enjoy the great outdoors while simultaneously showing nature exactly what we think of it. In that spirit, I’d like propose a new line of belligerent spring and summer wear.
Let the angry fashion show commence:
This winter was terrible. Never forget.
Surprisingly powerful words: “I know what you’re thinking, but…”
I have to say, I don’t think I fully appreciated the power of this one little phrase until the fateful night of March 27th, 2013. The night I decided to bake cookies for my boyfriend’s birthday.
You see, when it comes to baking delicious things that are terrible for you, I am quite the aficionada. I don’t get to bake often enough, so when I do, I dig through a trove of blogger recipes to find the perfect dessert for the recipient of my floury-buttery love.
Grant just so happens to love the classic chocolate-peanut butter combo, so when I saw the link for peanut butter cookies with chocolate chunks, I was already 99% sold. Then I looked at the recipe. It looked solid enough, except… EXCEPT: it called for full chocolate bars broken into chunks instead of chocolate chips. For you bakers out there, you know this can be an iffy situation. Chocolate chips have stabilizers that stop them from melting too much when you bake them. Chocolate bars do not.
So, of course, when I saw this, my first thought was, “I don’t know about this. It seems like those chocolate bars are going to explode all over the baking sheet and ruin these cookies.”
But then, as I looked over the recipe, my eyes caught on the phrase, “I know what you’re thinking, but…” The blogger did know what I was thinking and she went on to explain how the melty goodness of the bars really added to the recipe and how they would turn out fine.
“Well, okay, baking blogger,” I resolved. “Since you knew what I was thinking and expressly addressed my concern, I’ll go ahead and make ‘em as is.”
I made ‘em as is. And as I arranged the balls of dough on the cookie sheets, I thought, “Boy, these chocolate bar chunks really look like they’re going to explode out of the cookies and ruin everything.”
But then again, she did say, “I know what you’re thinking, but…”
I put them in the oven.
Eight minutes later I took them out.
The chocolate bars had exploded everywhere, burned, and ruined the cookies.
Did I mention it was 1 am? And that my boyfriend’s birthday was the following day? And that I was meeting him first thing in the morning?
YOU BETRAYED ME, BAKING BLOGGER. I TRUSTED YOU AND YOU BETRAYED ME.
I had plenty of time to mull over the error of my ways as I set about preparing brownies until 2 in the morning. Not only did I realize that it really was that one line that had made me trust her, but also that this had happened once before.
There had been another recipe, some abomination called Candy Chicken or some such thing that called for cooking chicken in a crockpot with brown sugar, soda, and vinegar. “Boy,” I thought, “that seems like it would be way too sweet.” But then the cooking blogger said, “I know what you’re thinking, but…” and explained how it really wasn’t too sweet.
“Well, okay,” I thought, and made it.
WAY TOO SWEET.
So apparently, I will do anything as long as you address my obvious concern with the phrase, “I know what you’re thinking, but…”
And that got me thinking. It is April Fool’s after all. I can’t be the only one with this Achilles’ heel.
Just think of the power one could yield with this. I could start a recipe blog called, “I Know What You’re Thinking, But…”
Then I’d post a recipe for muffins that calls for a whole cup of baking soda:
“I know what you’re thinking: one whole cup of baking soda?! Won’t those explode all over my oven? I know it seems like that’s obviously what will happen. But, no, don’t worry about it. It will be totally fine.”
Or one for enchiladas that calls for twenty-nine Trinidad Moruga Scorpion peppers:
“I know what you’re thinking: aren’t Trinidad Moruga Scorpion peppers the hottest peppers on earth? Won’t these enchiladas taste like Sherman’s March to the Sea in my mouth? Well, you’d think that, but no, the baking really mellows out the flavor. Make sure you include all of the peppers’ seeds or you’ll hardly taste them at all!”
Or one for pork chops that calls for a live pig:
“I know what you’re thinking: do I really have to slaughter this pig myself? Won’t that be disgusting, traumatic, and wholly unnecessary? But no, trust me, it’s going to make a big difference in the flavor. Just make sure to lay out a tarp to cover your living room carpet first. If your pig is nervous, give him a Valium. If you’re nervous, take three Valiums yourself.”
Then I’d invite those two bloggers to look at it and disable all comments so no one can warn them.
Of course, I wouldn’t actually do this, because UNLIKE SOME PEOPLE, I understand that with great power comes great responsibility.
Now you have been warned, readers. Beware the words, “I know what you’re thinking, but…” and if you must use them yourself, for the sake of idiots like me everywhere, please be careful.
O dearest woman on the flight
I took not long ago,
I have a bone to pick with you,
About two cups of joe.
Remember that late Delta flight?
They packed us like sardines,
And none of us were in the mood,
To hear your children’s screams.
Yet they both wailed and kicked the seats
Of those in front of them,
Denying weary passengers
Some needed R.E.M.
I thought that you might feel the need
To make your children cease.
Events would soon make clear to me
You don’t care in the least.
For in the midst of all their cries,
Your children screamed at you:
“More coffee, Mom! We want some now!”
Well, what’s a mom to do?
I guess if you’re a shitty mom,
You do just what you did,
And buy two cups of black cocaine
To overclock your kids.
What happened next was horrible—
You couldn’t pay me millions
To relive that and watch your kids
Both act like Robin Williams.
I think you hate the human race.
I think that must be why
You’d put your fellow human beings
Through torture in the sky.
Well, I enjoyed that trip so much–
I love when children yell.
Still, I don’t blame your kids for this,
But you can burn in hell.
Because sometimes you just get to thinking, wouldn’t every movie be better with Batman?
What you will need:
No other food in the house
An aversion to ordering take-out, because you’ve already spent too much money this week
An unwarranted feeling of being “too busy” to go to the grocery store
1. Find an occupation that pays little but is very time consuming, e.g. grad school.
2. Have a busy week or two.
3. One evening, realize it’s dinner time, and walk over to fridge.
4. Open up fridge only to behold a desolate wasteland.
5. Think, “Uh oh.”
6. Search cabinets desperately.
7. Find one half-empty box of tri-color rotini noodles, purchased because you saw the word “spinach” on the box and thought they might be healthy.
8. Think to yourself, “Well, there’s that, I guess. Do I have any sauce?”
9. Go check.
11. Ask yourself whether you’re really gonna do this, or whether it wouldn’t be better to break pledge not to spend more money on take-out this week.
12. Decide that financial self-discipline requires eating aforementioned tri-color rotini.
13. Bring large pot of water to a boil. Add tri-color rotini. Let boil for 9-10 minutes for al dente perfection.
14. Drain water and serve plain. Consume half-heartedly.
15. Go to the damn grocery store already.
Hello, hello, internet friends. I apologize for this post not being up on Monday–I was down and out with a hearty case o’ the death plague. It was no good. But you know what is good?
There are two more Drunken Debates videos from me and Katie’s first session that I’ve been saving for a rainy day. Today was arguably more snowy than rainy, but here they are nonetheless.
You won’t want to miss these, because they are both on subjects near and dear to everyone’s hearts. Should men have chest hair? Should they not have chest hair? Should women have long hair? Should women have short hair? I don’t know why we talk about hair so much, but a friend of Katie’s suggested a number of random debate topics to us and apparently she cared passionately about hair.
Two things I would like to clarify upfront:
1. I don’t mean to say that everyone without chest hair is a young boy, just that young boys don’t have any. This, in drunk speak, does not translate per se.
2. No, I cannot explain that rather inexplicable brain meltdown in the second. Don’t ask me to try. I’ve got nothing.
So, who won? Any future topics you’d like to see us debate?
Also, in case you missed the first batch (blasphemy!), here’s the link: Drunken Debates.
I like to think that, in general, I have some idea whether the work I’m producing is terrible. I’m not saying I can spot every flaw or anything—just that, when I’m working on something, I usually have some rudimentary notion as to whether what I’m doing is decent or catastrophically bad. But what I’ve discovered over the years is that my ability to sense this with respect to a given project comes with a time limit. And after too many hours revising something, I no longer have any ability to judge its adequacy at all.
Exhibit A: My Dissertation. Here’s a rough timeline detailing how my thought process has progressed—
Me Six Months Ago: This Plato chapter is pretty rough. I better clarify how I’m situating my argument with respect to the secondary literature. And that middle section is weak. It probably needs a little more argumentation.
Me Five Months Ago: Well, the lit review’s better, but I’m still not sure about that middle section. Better revisit it.
Me Four Months Ago: The middle section… I seem to have a long rambling paragraph with what looks like a footnote about children’s breakfast cereals. Is it funny? I’m not sure. Maybe it’s just weird.
Me Three Months Ago: The decision to keep the breakfast cereal footnote was the right call. Also, my idea that the Trix Rabbit’s longing for Trix is a metaphor for Platonic eros must be pursued in greater depth.
Me Two Months Ago: Alright. The chapter is now officially retitled: “The Hidden Platonism of General Mills-Brand Cereals: Rabbits, Leprechauns, and the Discovery of Being.” Now all I have to do is create an appendix that’s got all of the relevant cartoon characters reimagined wearing togas.
Me One Month Ago: I’m such a moron. Togas are Roman. Scrap the appendix and start again with ACCURATE costuming. Also, expand the appendix. Also, replace the entirety of the paper with the expanded appendix.
And that’s why it’s important to have other people read your stuff.
Not that I’m redoing any of the chapter at this point. I think the last draft, tentatively titled, “The Hidden Platonism of General Mills-Brand Cereals: I Have Hidden Pictures of Plato in These Drawings of General Mills-Brand Cereals,” is pretty perfect as is.
Because Katie and I have nothing better to do with our lives than to drink and happily bicker about nonsense, we decided to make a Youtube series out of it. Introducing… Drunken Debates!
The premise is that we pick a random topic, get drunk, and then flip a coin and argue for whatever it tells us to. As you can well imagine, things get weird fast.
Also, I got super sick the next day, so I hope this fills you with jubilance and that my sacrifice was not in vain.
After you watch, let us know who you think won. And, as you make your decisions, be sure to bear in mind that Katie is a baby-stabber.