After my sister and I saw the Japanese movie I Wish, which is about two brothers separated by divorce, we said to one another, “I wonder if Joseph ever wonders what it would be like to have a brother. We have one of each, but he only has sisters.”
When we put the question to him, he said without pausing, “No, I don’t think about that. I think about what it would be like to be an only child.”
And then he looked at me pointedly.
I am “the worst person ever,” according to Joseph, at least when it comes to food. Ever since he was little, I’ve had a habit of asking “for a bite,” or “a taste” of whatever he eats. This is especially true when he painstakingly puts a dish together. When I eat crab, I eat the meat as I crack it out of its shell. In contrast, Joseph takes all the meat out of the crab, and then mixes it with rice, ginger, and scallions. It looks so delectable, I can’t resist.
“Can I have some?”
“Just a bite?”
“But it looks so good!”
“Which is why I made it.”
I didn’t realize the psychological damage I was inflicting on Joseph until college, when I was an intern at a Communications company in Seattle. That summer, my roommate and I had a generous per diem stipend from our college that we would save up and use to splurge on food. We feasted on Oaxacan, French, and New Amerian cuisines. We went to cupcake happy hours, and to the local bakery for ginger scones.
One workday, we decided to wake up extra early to try out an European-Japanese fusion bakery. The bakery was up a steep hill; I was out of breadth by the time we reached the top. (I was out of shape, so I decided to clog my arteries as well.) The hike was worth it. I ate a scrumptous green tea and red bean muffin for breakfast, and picked up some cookies to eat later at work.
At 2:30, I fixed myself a cup of tea, and pulled out my cookies. At that exact moment my boss walks by and asks, “What do you have there? Can I try some?” I really wanted to say, “I walked up a hill and woke up early for these cookies, so no.” Instead, I grimaced and said, “sure.”
It was a “come to Jesus,” “Paul on the road to Damascus” kind of moment. I said to Joseph that night, “I finally know what it’s like.”
And I wish we could just the end story there, but just the other week, I ate a slice of a pear that Joseph had cut up. I assumed it was up for grabs.
He was livid.
“You are the worst person EVER. You didn’t even ask. I literally haven’t eaten all day. That that was my dinner! You said you learned your lesson, but you haven’t!”
Ashamed, I apologized and promised I wouldn’t do it again. But then I thought, who has just a pear for dinner?