Napping with my grandfather was a test of cunnery. We would lie together on our sides and he would shuffle and shift his weight and move his feet until he found his spot. I would lie as still as possible, stick-straight, afraid that the lightest movement would send him into another shuffling frenzy and delay the inevitable snores that would bellow from his mouth. I would lie in waiting, patiently counting the breaths escaping from his mouth, listening for when his fast-paced, heart-stammering exhaltations became the heavy, low snores of a snoozing giant.
His arm weighed a thousand pounds and counting as I assumed my exit position. One wrong move and he would pull me in tighter, his arm pinning me to his chest, my head nestled under his wide chin. First, I shifted my feet toward the edge of the bed, careful to lightly pull away the sheets. Once my feet and legs were free I began the evacuation process. I was always careful to lie as still as possible, my arms tucked in at my sides. This position was a tactical maneuver on my part: free arms and hands are necessary when lifting a slumbering giant’s arm. I proceeded with caution as I moved downward toward the edge of the bed: first my shoulders disappeared beneath his arm, then my neck. And in one swift motion, I lifted his arm and shoved my head below and into the sheets, moving quickly and quietly toward the light, avoiding his shifting body as he turned over and continued his dreams.
Any evidence of my presence was no longer traceable, and I made my way out the door and down the stairs and into the kitchen to see what my grandmother may have been cooking. I’ve never been good at napping. My grandfather would always tell me to lie still, that I was too restless. I loathed napping; it got in the way of my diving competitions, concert performances, and coloring. Even more hated than napping, I dreaded being held. I was never a cuddly child. I could entertain myself quietly for hours, a firm “I’m busy” could be heard from every room in the house whenever I was asked to join anyone in anything.
I made bland cookies that left me somewhat wishing I had a ladder to help me out of a shallow grave. I couldn’t even master the simplest of tasks; I followed the recipe to a tee, yet I was left wondering whether it needed more flour or butter or, simply, a better baker. I have never been one to boast my cooking talents. I can follow a recipe, but that doesn’t guarantee the meal will turn out the way it was intended. I simply do not have the hands or mind to create anything remotely delicious or savoring or memorable.
But cookies - cookies are hard to mess up. Sometimes they may turn out slightly off because I substituted margarine for butter, or I didn’t separate the egg whites from the yolk, but my track record for cookies is above average for my lack of ability. So, to taste my creation and immediately slouch my shoulders and grimace at the thought of having another or even to show that I indeed made these death rocks is a blow to my ego, the very crushing of my soul. Perhaps an overly dramatic reaction for such a forgotten snack, but I might as well be unable to comb my hair or tie a knot or perform simple addition if I cannot make a worthy cookie.