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The Opinion of Strangers

We are funny ducks, we human beings.

We play games, thinking we are fooling the world. But the world couldn’t care less, and doesn’t even notice the lengths we go to in order to appear the way we wish we were but aren’t.

Examples abound:

imgresI love Maltesers—those malted milk balls from England that melt in your mouth (don’t judge me). My cousin Louise, who is British, loves them as much as I do. When she goes home, she brings back boxes of them and shares with me. The key is making sure I see her soon after her return—if too much time passes, she will have eaten them all. Anyway, if you can believe it, the local movie theater started carrying them a few months ago. Small bags of them. Oh happy day!

So now when I want them, I go see a movie. Sometimes it’s a movie I don’t wish to see, but if I want the Maltesers, I have to see a movie. Now, I could visit the candy counter without purchasing a ticket—it’s just inside the door before the ticket taker’s booth—but then the candy counter person would see me enter, buy the candy, and then leave. What would they think of me? On the other hand, no one serving me has ever actually looked at me when I’m ordering, so maybe they wouldn’t think anything at all.

So I see a movie I might not otherwise see, just so I can have my Maltesers. Now, I’m a smart girl, but this is not a smart strategy. If the bag has twenty pieces in it, that’s a lot. And the $6.00 cost of the bag has to be added to the $9.00 cost of the ticket, which means I’m eating a candy that takes ten seconds to chew and swallow at a cost of 75¢ per piece. Seriously?

Then there is the take-out Japanese place near my home, from which I order at least once every week. I don’t order a lot; usually one order of salmon don and miso eggplant. But when I go there to pick it up, every week they ask if I want one or two sets of chopsticks. I always say two.

I love living alone. I live alone by choice—I haven’t found that perfect person who raises me up so I can stand on mountains—and my own company actually pleases me. So why do I want them to think there is another person at my house waiting to eat half of a meal that really only serves one? I don’t know, but I do. I have a drawer full of leftover chopsticks to remind me of my silliness.

The truth is that the opinions of strangers matter to some of us, and the absurdity of it all changes nothing. Note to self: If I want Maltesers, just go into the theater and buy them.

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