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.
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.
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.