When I came home the other morning, my cookie was gone.
I’m still in a place where that sort of thing shocks me.
I crave sweets only occasionally, and then I just want a little taste. The other morning after a run, I thought I heard something calling me from the cupboard: the very last cookie from the batch of Tollhouse dough Jack talked me into at the store the other day.
The very last cookie and I have always had a special thing.
By the time Mike and I were married, he had learned to save the last cookie for me. Always. It may be a while before I want it. Doesn’t matter. Until that thing grows legs and walks away, the very last cookie is spoken for. By me. It’s only fair. I probably haven’t had any of the other cookies it came in with, I’m a one cookie woman.
The foundation of our marriage rests on the last cookie in the box.
People who aren’t lucky enough to live with someone who understands this, develop strategies for keeping their food to themselves. When we were in college, I had a girlfriend who didn’t want every freshman in the house converging on her room when she had pizza delivered, so she identified a moocher-deterrent system. She wouldn’t go so far as to order anchovies, so onions and ground beef was her go-to combination. Almost no one wants onions and ground beef on their pizza.
That’s actually when I developed a taste for onion and ground beef pizza, by the way.
Where Mike lived, it was a different story. Fraternity guys, as it turns out, are capable of doing all kinds of disgusting things to food they don’t want to share. If my husband is actually to be believed, there were those who would lick an entire pizza before enjoying it at their leisure, or else they would poke each piece with their finger.
I know. Eww. But I saw how those boys lived. The condition of the carpet in their living room. Stables have cleaner floors. The bottom of the Ganges is probably more sanitary. Eating a pre-licked pizza was probably no big deal.
Anyway, my house isn’t a fraternity. The floors are far less sticky, and no one has to lick anything to stake her claim.
At least I didn’t think so until the morning when I thought I had a date with a certain cookie.
I had made the batch two nights earlier, and the smell brought everyone out for a last snack.
Jack inhaled five. I think everyone else had at least one. When I came back to the kitchen a few minutes after pulling the things out of the oven, only two were left.
I knew I might want a cookie later, just not then. I put them on a plate in the cupboard, behind the cereal bowls. Not terribly well hidden, mind you, but I’m one of the few who ever puts anything away in this house, pretty much ever. I figured that the truth of cookie ownership in this instance would be self-evident.
The next morning, one of those cookies was gone.
I took a bite of the other one and put it back in the cupboard. Staking my claim: hey you, you cookie-filching bastard, this is MINE.
I wasn’t going to lick my food. That’s just … I don’t … No.
Nor did I want the cookie right then. I was good with one bite.
I know there are those of you out there who are wondering if I’m an alien from some planet where people don’t crave cookies all the time, but there are others like me. I know I could enter my younger son’s room anytime after Christmas and before Easter and he’d still probably have a secret stash of Halloween candy.
That’s the way I was at his age.
And then when I want my cookie, I want my damn cookie. Like after my run the other day. The cookie I stuck in the cupboard and from which I had taken a good-sized bite. I wanted that cookie.
The gone cookie.
It had been the ghost of the cookie that had been calling me.
“Why do you think he did it?” Mike asked when I fumed about Jack.
Well, Mike didn’t do it. He’s been trained. Colin probably took his and hid it somewhere else for later. Hanna, the exchange student who just moved in, appears to have manners. The dog can’t reach the cupboard.
How did I know it was Jack? Process of elimination.
I asked Jack about this cookie thing on the way home that night. Why would he eat a cookie someone so obviously stowed for herself? Was he starving? Did he care so little about the rest of us?
Did I need to start licking my cookies?
“You just shouldn’t leave a cookie right where I’ll see it,” he said. “You should put it in a baggie with your name on it. And then put it in your room somewhere.”
In a vault, apparently.
“But I don’t keep food in my room,” I said. He just gave me a pained look.
That’s when I realized: as surrounded as I am by these walking vessels of hormones and energy and impulse control issues, maybe expecting to save a cookie is cruel and unusual. Maybe sticking a cookie in a cupboard near the cereal bowls where Jack goes every morning as he’s preparing to break his fast is not the wisest thing.
Maybe I’m the cookie monster.
Later, after dinner, Hanna came in and innocently asked if there were any cookies left from the batch I made two days ago. We all looked at each other.
Then she considered all of us with our hangdog faces, and I thought for a second about confessing that the only way to keep food from disappearing around here is to slather it with saliva.
“That’s okay,” she said. “I think I’m going to make you some strudel, or maybe a cake.”
And she did.
I ate mine right away.
Really. Strudel. If you vote for me I might save you a piece. Well, no, but I’ll be grateful.
Cookie photo by: Jamison Judd