Simple Steps for Singular Success

May 3, 2008
Leslie sat up in her room, fuming at the beautiful outdoors she could see out her window. What told the weather it was allowed to be nice anyway? She watched a beautiful red convertible drive by and clenched her fists in anger; it merely reminded her once again of her arch nemesis, Patricia Helm--the snotty, upper-class fiend with the world at her fingertips. Half the school feared her because of the power she held in her friends of choice, the other half shied away in awe of her beauty and excellence. Leslie belonged to the best of both groups. Patricia had shunned her since grade school, treating her with equal doses of exasperation, pity, and rejection, which Leslie had always returned with wit, hatred, and desperation. Sitting on the window seat, Leslie crossed her legs and examined the single emotion that had formed and been maintained through it all. Jealousy.

Drawing up a design for jealousy is like making a stew. First a person must decide what emotions he will put into such a process. In this way, he plays the chef. Emotions are merely ingredients. Each emotion must be thought over, tasted, tested, and decided upon. The more complicated questions must be chewed over, asked, and answered. Shall the main ingredient consist of something heavy, like hatred, or something more subtle, like lust? Is there any joy to be accounted for? What about pain? Anger? Desperation? Fear? Exasperation? Should something zesty and spicy be added? Perhaps a mad dash to the market should be made to insure that the proper amount of each emotion be accounted for. Everything is mentally catalogued. The wrong blend could prove to be quite disastrous not only for the soup, but the individual himself; a backlash of such emotion is unintentional. Eventually, of course, the chef will make a decision, gather together his ingredients, and prepare to create his masterpiece.
Having the final list in front of him, ingredients lined up in a row, the chef sits down in front of the black kettle pot and begins. Picking up a hearty pound of hatred, he grabs a butcher’s knife and begins to cut it into smaller, more edible strips. The fat of sympathy is left clinging to its delicious body as it is first tossed into the pot, already half filled with watery anger. Long stalks of regret and panic are pulled over from a separate pile and diced into small squares by quick, efficient hands. The hard pits of care are removed from confusion’s squishy shell and tossed aside. Exhilaration, worry, restlessness and sadness are measured into quarter cups apiece and sloshed in the pot. A dash of pity and a light sprinkling of rejection are added for their spice. A teaspoon of pessimism is mixed with a quarter cup of frustration until well blended and set aside for later. A half-stick of softened embarrassment is thrown in for good measure and is later joined by a tablespoon of indignity. Satisfied for the time being, the chef turns on the burner and allows the ingredients to blend and simmer. His careful eye watches, and on occasion, he tosses in a pinch of imagination or hope. Finally, when the stew looks and smells just right, he dips in a ladle and takes a small sip of his creation. If satisfied, he removes it from the burner; and if not, he adds the masking, pungent spice of nervousness and calls it good. This time around, it is perfect.
Well satisfied with the day’s creation, the chef removes a few bowls from the cupboard and sets them on the counter. Before he permits himself the luxury of eating, he gets up once more and cleans up his mess, being very careful not to waste a single, unnecessary emotion. Once the pots and spoons and measuring cups are washed and accounted for, he feels that he is especially deserving of this meal ahead. He sets it on the table, ladles a healthy helping of stew into a bowl, and picks up a spoon. Pausing but for a second, he looks down at his feast, wonders at its complexity, and prepares to enjoy. If it is as good as he declared it after the taste test, he will walk over to the selection of wines and ponder what will compliment it. Red or white? Satisfaction or triumph? He will grab a bottle and pour his guests a glass, while watching it flow in a quiet stream into the perfect crystal. And if not, then he will set that helping aside for another day and pick up the cook book, preparing for another day’s hard work ahead.
As clearly demonstrated, jealousy is not possible without the combined help of a multitude of other emotions. Sometimes the blend is just right and can be served without a hitch. But other times—most times—something is slightly off and it rarely turns out the way its creator intended.

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