It's silly, I know, this tendency of mine to ascribe pragmatic rationalization to what is really dessert. For fuck's sake, what is wrong with me? Can one extra cookie really be a sump of guilt?
The problem is that three cookies are enough. Only three. Not more, not less. And those three cookies are to be eaten after dinner. No exceptions. To do otherwise is to break the rules (the rules, the rules, goddamn rules) and those who break rules can expect to be shunned.
It was early evening. The light fades faster this time of year. Dinner was over, and my sweet tooth was mumbling to me as I wiped down the counters and stove. I laid the towel on the counter below the cabinets. Up high, top shelf in the wall cabinet next to the microwave was the box of cookies. Taking it down, I noticed how light it felt. Empty or nearly so. I peeled back the cover. There were four cookies left. Four.
Damnation. My mind reeled. I felt dizzy. I wanted dessert. I couldn't possibly eat four cookies, when three was the rule. Something broke and I lifted a cookie to my mouth.
It was during the war that I stood in my kitchen and broke the rules.