In ancient times, before “inventive spelling,” young minds were required to learn phonics and spelling rules. We even had word lists on which we were tested weekly — words we not only had to spell correctly but define and use properly in a sentence.
Once, in Mrs. Lovette’s class, I had to define “addictive.”
“It’s something that compels you to act in a certain way,” I said. “Milk and cookies are addictive.”
Mrs. Lovette didn’t have a problem with my definition, but she disagreed with how I used the word in a sentence.
Of course, she had a bigger problem with my buddy Mitchell’s sentence for the word “murderous.”
“Please don’t murderous if we do badly on this spelling test,” he said.
I think he’s also the wise guy who defined cemetery as “a place where dead people live.” With his 99.9 average, Mitchell, could afford to lose a few points on a spelling test.
I thought my answer was correct, so I argued with Mrs. Lovette for counting it wrong. She contended that milk and cookies were not addictive, saying something addictive has a harmful, lasting effect.
If only she could see me now. I’m not the skinny eighth-grader I was then. Milk and fresh-baked cookies were, and still are, addictive for me.
I’ve since developed a better definition for addictive as “anything that controls how we think and act.” When I smell a batch of chocolate-chip cookies baking in the oven, something takes me over. In a flash, I’m standing in the kitchen with a plate in one hand and a glass of milk in the other.
“They’re not ready yet,” my wife always says, shooing me away to my man chair. “It won’t hurt you to wait another 20 minutes.”
Like Mrs. Lovette, she doesn’t understand. It really does hurt to wait another 20 minutes. I smell cookies; therefore, I want cookies — now.
To keep my sanity, I go outside where I can’t smell the chocolaty goodness. When I return, though, the sweet scent nearly knocks me down. It’s sorta like the feeling you get when your parachute malfunctions or when your favorite barbecue joint is “fresh out” of barbecue.
In the first grade, I discovered a Swedish shortbread cookie marketed by Jack’s only during Christmas season. This was my favorite commercial-brand cookie — and still would be if Jack’s was in business. At Dixon Elementary’s Christmas party in 1961, I must have eaten a pound of them, something I continued to do every Christmas season until about 10 years ago.
These star- and snowflake-shaped cookies were light and sweet, with a buttery flavor and a crunch from frosty sprinkles on top. I enjoyed them with a glass of milk or eggnog diluted with 1-percent milk.
Without warning, one Christmas season came around and there were no more “Christmas cookies.” It was a sad Christmas.
I now find a commercial brand of “decadent” chocolate-chip and pecan cookies to be irresistible, so I try to avoid the stores that carry them.
Nabisco markets small packages of Chips Ahoy! and Oreos for people like me. It’s just enough.
Well, not really. But it’s as many cookies as I need — and that’s enough for a cookie addict.