Who Ate My Brownies?

Yes, this is my adaptation of, “Who Moved My Cheese?” – the 1998 best seller written by Spencer Johnson. On this early morning of December 12th, 2020, who ate my brownies?

In my real life story, there is no Sniff and Scurry. Oh, and certainly no cheese; although, I’ve become fond of monterey jack on crackers lately. No Sniff and Scurry. Here in my tale there are only two humans. One who baked the delicious treats and one who thought the sweet, brown squares were, mostly, sitting around for his earlier birthday celebration. This was not as expected. Apparently.

As human #2 reads this, a majority of the brownies – that were in the container previously – may shift in her belly the same way my hopes did last night. Where there were many, few remained. This isn’t a serious indictment of her impulses. All of us have them with sweets, right? More to the crusty, delicious point: unspoken expectations.

Decades of birthday observances have been compressed into a head nod and slight grimace the morning of. That creaky walk into the kitchen when the first item on the agenda is no longer a bowl of Coco Puffs, but a few amber bottles accommodating little white pills and where-are-they bifocals located somewhere I can’t see. Nothing pleases me more than the sarcastic, self-generating, “Geez, it’s just a number” calculated response to my age being subtracted from the actuarial number I know waiting for me at the end of all this. Look, we know life has an end, right? I’m not a fatalist by any means. Life is wonderful. Every year we’re one year older, though, … someone ate those brownies.

Well, to be fair, not all of them. MOST of them. There were most a few days ago, then last night?… little. Expectations being what they are – unspoken, I should have known. Earlier, I did buy a few dozen cupcakes to hand out to my friends. (This is a tradition started many iced moons ago by my mom. She’s gone now, but I still try to keep it going). As compadres go, they scooped them up immediately, fist fulls at a time, as the hard plastic container in my hands wafted its sweet aroma into the world. For all intents, this was my birthday, candle-less, cake. I assumed as much that day until arriving home to see a pan of freshly baked, uncut, brownies on top of the stove. Oh, they (it) smelled so good. As an aside, one big whole pan like that is really NOT a bunch of brownies until cut into individual squares! It is, really, one big brownie birthday cake, uhm, ….

…Or, so I thought.

I can be pushy, assumptive, presumptive, stubborn, and/or obdurate (love that word). Human #1, obviously, knows this. Under those conditions, human #2 is placed in a rather strange shaped pan when baking some sort of life with me. Admittedly, it’s not my ingredients, but our recipe. She baked and filled the pan. I don’t know why and never asked. There’s cosmic stress these days in her job and I’m aware chocolate has a way of realigning her planetary system, albeit temporarily until the next covid meteor screams through her workplace universe. With that perspective, I’m telescopically aware she probably baked for her peace of mind without actual verbal confirmation.

And so we meet at last night’s problem. Someone ate what I assumed to be my birthday cake/brownies that were, alas, not. Days away from the actual celebratory day of my birth, my inquiry into the nearly empty pan was met with the snacky supercilious, “Hey, you snooze, you lose!”. Where there were many? … one. When I challenged the math, there appeared to be some high level backward, algebraic, formulaic back-stepping. I didn’t push to see the solution on paper because I want to see another birthday; however, after a challenging few days it would have been nice to, MAYBE, enjoy more than one brownie.

She said, I said. All about expectations and unspoken assumptions. Will I live not eating most of the brownies? Sure. She can have them … well, she did … not withstanding the wrangling we’re going to have once she reads this. Her numbers and mine will not agree, I’m sure of this. I’m also pretty confident I will walk away satisfied as the winner of a dispute I didn’t win.

It’s not about the brownies or my birthday, is it? Spencer Johnson was – and continues to be – right. Who moved the cheese? Goals, expectations, and assumptions. Today is 19 days away from 2020 being over. If anything, it has been a year of the unexpected popping up as every assumption and goal slowly drains down into the garbage disposal. Fatalism? Nah, just a crappy, stupid, disastrous, sad, scary, unpredictable year. A year when all our brownies – or cheese – haven’t lived up to our expectations.

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of delivering a letter to a retired Home Economics teacher in our area. This note was sent to me from a former student of hers who wanted to express an appreciation for the kindness and love given to her years ago. Being in a better position to hand deliver the letter, I agreed. Unable to meet in person, I slid the note in the mail slot while talking to Mrs. C on the phone. I don’t know the contents of the letter, but can assume – based on my previous texts with my friend – it had something to do with recipes still being used from the late 70’s/ early 80’s, when classes such as these were still being taught.

Maybe, just maybe, there was a brownie recipe in that envelope and Mrs. C could mix up a batch on the sly for me. Nobody needs to know, right? Her family and mine have been friends for years. Human #2 doesn’t need to know. This way, all expectations are met, all assumptions graciously kissed, and goals achieved … conveniences 2020 doesn’t have in abundance.

I’ll gladly lick my fingers after each pleasant bite while sitting back watching everyone else chase their cheese. Expect me to share? Yeah, ok. I’ll think about it. Seeing as how I got less than my fair share of the last batch, odds are pretty good you don’t even have to snooze to lose.