Milk

Originally Written January, 2009

I was sitting in the study room down the hall from my dorm room, quietly doing my work, about to go to bed, when my RA puts a box of Oreos out on the little snack table outside her door.  An unavoidable obstacle.  As I pack up my things, I reason to myself: I can just walk right by them, without even a glance, go straight to bed and it won’t even matter. It will be like I never saw them. So, I walk out of the study room, and as I pass the table, eyes averted, my left hand reaches out of its own accord and stealthily snatches a cookie.  Apparently the authority of my will power does not extend to my extremities, particularly when it comes to cream-filled sandwich heaven.  To ward off the impending guilt that will surely follow this blatant act of defiance, I have my justification ready: it’s just ONE Oreo. Could be worse, not a big deal, seriously.

I’ve barely shut my door behind me before the cookie is gone. A bittersweet memory, which I’m more than ready to forgive and forget, but the lingering chocolatey aftertaste forces me to realize I have no milk to drink.  And suddenly I can think of nothing else; the craving has intensified to such an unmanageable degree I’m practically seeing udders.

How do I deal with this? I meander back out into the hall, brave through a crowd of (annoyingly skinny) girls chatting around the snacks – so carefree! so unburdened by guilt and shame! – and take two more Oreos, along with a handful of trail mix for good measure.  It seems that the aforementioned phenomenon of my weirdly wayward extremities has taken hold of my entire body; I am but a puppet, whose actions are controlled by some foreign entity, some sweet-toothed puppet master to whom I can only surrender.  I play it down, of course, as I stand amongst these strangers. Giving a hollow laugh, I bare my (in all likelihood) chocolate-stained teeth, and lament the conspicuous lack of milk, expecting (hoping for) whole-hearted and empathetic agreement – anything to validate my desperation!  Instead, following a few seconds of awkward silence and blank stares, what can only be pity compels one of these superior beings to offer me a container of Half & Half.  Perhaps I would like to drizzle some on top of my cookies? Um, what? No thank you, I mumble as I head back to my room, bewildered. I mean, I know Princeton boasts an obscenely diverse undergraduate population, but who knew students were recruited from outside our solar system?

Well, needless to say, at this point the milk-craving has only gotten worse. Udders everywhere.  And how do I deal with it this time?  Leave it to the puppet master: I soon find myself fully dressed for the below freezing weather – boots, scarf, hat, gloves and all.  And I’m outside (keep in mind it’s 1:30 in the morning), head down, face scrunched up against the icy wind, making my way toward the student center… where the milk is.

Ten minutes later, out of breath from running most of the way, I walk into the warmth and am annoyed to find that the urgency of my craving has abated somewhat. I guess jogging uphill in fifteen degree weather might take your mind off things.  But I sure as hell didn’t come all that way for nothing… after all, I’m not crazy. (Ha!)  So I head toward the check-out counter with that long-awaited little carton of milk in hand, and I pause, thoughtful.  Am I really going to drink all this on its own?  My eyes scan the stocked shelves of little convenience store, and the answer comes readily – no chance.  I grab a bag of Famous Amos chocolate chip cookies.

By the time I get back to my dorm, I’m resisting the urge to lick the crumbs off the inside of an empty bag.  Amos really does not fill his cookie-bags to their optimal capacity.  So I’m thinking, as I enter the bottom floor and push the elevator button: “Maybe those girls will be gone, that way I can snag some more Oreos to finish off the rest of this milk with.” God knows I would be too ashamed to butt in again with my greedy little hands and my thirsty little mouth.  They clearly cannot relate.  But I’m disappointed to discover that they’re still there, chatting away, like those Oreos aren’t sitting in plain sight on the table, with their little sandwich mouths opening and closing in unison to chant, tauntingly, “Eat me eat me eat me…” I have no choice but to act ever so nonchalant as I walk on by, discreetly holding the milk carton close to my right hip so as to avoid their suspecting the purpose of my recent outing.

I guess I just have to settle for holing up inside my room and picking the chocolate chips out of my Nutty American trail mix…  As I write this, I’m on alert, listening for the girls to stop talking, to indicate that they’ve all gone to bed, so that I can sneak back out there and get some more cookies…

Only problem is, I’m out of milk.

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