My roommate Charlotte worries far too much about me.
We have one of those L-shaped computer desks upon which sits my sleek black HP laptop, the main tool of my trade as well as the epicenter of whatever remaining social life I possess. This much-abused and often-cursed beast also serves as my movie theater, game arcade and general aging-hippie file cabinet.
But it’s my writing that keeps me at the desk all hours of the day and night. I’m a contract writer for several martial arts websites, a few small ‘Net writing jobs and I fill in the gaps by juggling several personal projects such as my blogs and my constantly-in-process-but-never-finished e-books.
So when Charlotte takes pity on poor old me, who seemingly is not capable of voiding his own bladder much less feeding himself, she will leave little food treats for me on the desk, tip-toeing up as quietly as possible so as not to interrupt the Maestro’s train of thought. These treats range from fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies to bowls of homemade soup, treats that I usually callously wolf down in one swallow like a starving mutt given a bone.
The other day I’m typing like a maniac, steam rising from my manicured fingertips, when I pause a moment to gather my thoughts. My peripheral vision picked up something lying on the desk on my right side. With Herculean effort I turned my gaze away from the Sacred Screen and saw …
… a treat!
“Nummy”, thought I, “home-made candy!” I grabbed for the morsel and was immediately aware of a certain roughness of texture, a grainy, pencil-eraser-type of tactile sensation. A piece crumbled off the end of the delicious-looking confection as I picked it up. It wasn’t smooth like most candy, nor did it look to be covered in chocolate, but my reptilian brain ignored these signs and just figured that Charlotte had whipped up something new and unique in the kitchen.
I took my first nibble … nothing. No taste. The candy crumbled even further between my fingers, though I was holding it like a fine piece of porcelain sculpture. The taste continued to elude me, but the texture, the mouth-feel … I flashed back to elementary school when I used to chew on pencil erasers to ease my boredom and social terror – the treat tasted just like that!
More crumbling. Now I’m taking the entire remains of the tid-bit in my mouth, forcing myself to chew it as it fragments around my greedy tongue. The taste is still a non-event, but the eraser texture is strong now. I have a passing thought to spit it out in the garbage, but I don’t want Charlotte to see me doing that and becoming offended, so I manfully continue to masticate and finally swallow the candy.
At this point I make a mental note to myself – “Beware of candy offered by strange women”.
The rest of the day goes by without incident.
The following day Charlotte makes dinner for us, and as I’m preparing to sit down she asks if Tigger was happy, Tigger being her beloved Pekingese, complete with awesome underbite.
“Why? Why shouldn’t he be?” I responded, a creeping snake of fear and terror beginning to make its ascent up my spine.
“Well, did you give him his treat yesterday?”
You know that moment of comprehension, how it usually takes only a half-second in real-time but in your mind it rolls up on you like a herd of buffalo charging through a plain of molasses, seemingly taking forever and you watching it powerlessly?
That’s how it hit me – exactly like that herd of gooey buffalo.
I had eaten Tigger’s doggie treat.
We cleaned up the food and drink that Charlotte had spit out after I told her the tale. Tigger and The Cat came in to see what all the high-pitched screaming was about and were now doing figure-8′s around our feet, figuring if there was laughter there had to be food. I went over to Tigger’s treat jar and sure enough, there they were – mocking me, LAUGHING at me, all smug and righteous in their little red-and-white-streaked shells, daring me to once again partake of their rubbery goodness.
As part of my Taoist philosophy I like to believe that everything has two sides, the good and the bad. The bad that I took away from this experience was that I really should learn to switch mind-modes a bit more quickly. As Charlotte, a one-time waitress, explained to me with tear-streaked eyes and still-quivering voice, food is served on the LEFT and removed on the RIGHT – a social nicety that I never really took notice of, even in the most debonair phase of my younger days. She went on to explain that I KNEW that MY treats were ALWAYS on the left, and that the PET treats were ALWAYS on the right.
The good part of this whole thing? I now know that if I ever again run out of victuals during a storm, Tigger will be only to happy to share his with me.