I enjoy baking, always have and always will. Growing up, I used to make chocolate chip cookies with my father, creating delicacies with a 50/50 ratio of chocolate chips to every other ingredient combined. The time I spent with him was as much a part of the experience as the sugary fruits of our labour.
Furthermore, I learned early on that bringing cookies to school was a boon to my existence, as it brightened my classmates’ day and served as an insurance policy against bullying. Beating up the kid that bring you sweets is an act of poor planning, that even the most brain-dead of goons had the foresight to avoid.
Later in life, the use of baking as a buffer against potential ass-whoopings diminished as I left the mad-max jungle that is the early years of public schooling. As my old childhood dream of living in a world comprised entirely of Reese’s peanut butter cups gave way to the realities of nutrition and body image, I found baking now occupies a hazy middle-ground. I enjoy baking and consuming desserts courtesy of my massive sweet tooth, but as you typically cannot bake anything less than a tray of desserts, the result of baking is never a demonstration of consuming in moderation.
Now, I rarely bake and when I do, I typically do so for other people, with a focus on the original emotional buzz I got from making people happy being the primary drive. Birthday cakes are the most frequent creation, with a map of Europe being the result of one baking endeavour while another displayed an android eating an apple…for one of my less Macintosh inclined friends.
Likewise, there are times when other people bake for me, an act of kindness that I dearly appreciate. The result though, is a conflict between sweet tooth and nutritional self-consciousness that we all go through in the face of indulgence. For me, the solution is to go back to the basics of why I bake, to make people happy.
Consequently, the other day when I was given a gift of cookies from a close friend, I knew what I had to do, share it with the world. The trouble is that I have yet to figure out a perfect model for distribution.
After consuming more than my fair share, I jumped on a bus and began heading home. Across from me, sat a young woman, stylish sunglasses obscuring her eyes but her death grip on a stroller betraying her focus on the small child within. Now, there are a lot of ways to approach giving out candy, but in hindsight starting the conversation with “that’s a nice kid you got their” was not the best.
Likewise, following the compliment up with the phrase “want some candy” while revealing a large container from underneath your jacket like a street hustler was not a good way to offer food to protective mothers. She responded “I’m goooood”, her voice catching and dragging out the last word in a quizzical tone.
“Right then”, I responded, returning the container underneath my jacket, a habit that I have when holding containers that will no doubt result in a full-body search from law enforcement one day.
The bus driver was similarly resistant when I posed the offer to him as I got off the bus, replying “I’m good buddy”, pushing a button to ensure that the doors stayed and that I left his bus without obstruction.
Given the balmy weather of the day (contrary to popular belief, Winnipeg can get hot), I decided to throw my jacket in my backpack. The simple act of removing my jacket inadvertently solved the image problem of presenting the cookies like a street hustler and the people I now encountered were much more receptive to candy from a stranger. A few protective parents resisted, but I found that on the whole people took the whole experience as a pleasant surprise. I also found eating one of the cookies put people at ease, as I was demonstrating the lack of taint through my actions.
An elderly man complained of allergies after I told him that I had no idea whether peanut products were in the cookies (I had not baked them myself after all), but after a few moments replied “to hell with it” and indulged; first in the dessert and potentially later in our free healthcare system.
By the time I got home, I had perfected my cookie selling speech and was able to convince even the most stalwart dietician to take a cookie. The smiles I got were my payment and after sharing the desserts with my neighbours, I had just enough to bring to the office the next day to celebrate my co-workers dentist appointment.
You have got to enjoy the small things in life. Making people smile can be all the incentive you need to share. Now imagine if we could apply this to something beyond sugary treats. What a world that would be!