The other day I was looking for a new recipe to make chocolate chip cookies. I fall rather short in my talent for baked goods, producing flat and wrinkled cookies. I was scanning through recipe books, and was entertained by the titles of several recipes in a cookbook compiled by a group at BYU: "Not Just Any Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cokies", "The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies Ever", "The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies (Seriously)", and "Kimber's Dad's Famous Chocolate Chip Cookies". I love this - each title denotes that the cookie from this person, or even Kimber's Dad, is the best cookie in the world. I especially like the disclaimer, that this is seriously the best cookie. I can almost imagine the four women that submitted these recipes all showing up to the social with their best, seriously best, and famous cookies, and awaiting to be proclaimed the winner of the cookie competition.
Competitions are all around us, though they become more unspoken as you age. Baking is just one such unspoken competition. My husband competed in a very different sort the other day when he went out to lunch with a friend. He came home from this lunch, too stuffed to even sit down on the couch and tell me about it. He just kept saying, "I'm so stuffed..I'm so stuffed." Later that night, after the food had settled, he told me of their culinary experience, gorging themselves at Chinese Gourmet. They supposedly set a goal at the beginning of the meal: they would each eat 4 plates of food. The first and second plates were easy, but halfway through the third plate, my husband's stomach started closing; however, he was able to eat a bit more than his friend and therefore "won" the competition. I mentioned that this was a rather inane contest, to which he responded, "It's a guy thing." And so it is.
And so there are girl competitions, but they tend to the other extreme, and I usually lose them. Just as my husband and his friend were trying to eat the most amount of food, girls are usually trying to eat the least amount. I've gone to plenty of lunches where I was the only one eating my entire meal, and the meal is not the standard "salad". I have often lost the competition to be the girl with the smallest appetite, and I do more than just pick at the bread - I ask for more. Of course, this is all unspoken - no one ever says to me, "Wow - you ate a lot." But I can feel the eyes as I order a full meal, eat all of it, and even have room for dessert.
And so the competitions continue, usually unspoken, but there all the same. A competition of what you did over summer vacation, where you live, what job you have, how well-behaved your kids are, how clean your car is, and whether or not your kids are winning their soccer competition. Until suddenly, you meet someone that isn't involved in any competitions. They don't care about any of your accomplishments, and they don't brag about their own. And it is precisely because of that, that they seem to win the competition. I've known some people like this, and I love being around them. They want to know about my life - not to compare it to their own, and not to give advice on how to be like them - but just to be my friend. I love talking with them - whether it is for a few minutes over the backyard fence, or on the phone for hours. And I love that they are not involved in any competitions - spoken or unspoken. And if they ever tried my flat, wrinkled cookies, I'm pretty sure they would make me feel that they were "The Best Cookies in the World" (Seriously).