Thursday, February 15, 2007

Cookie Monsters

In a rectangular room with three pale walls and a mirrored one sits a long table. On this table sit nine dinner plates. On each plate sits a chocolate chip cookie, a soft, warm, freshly-baked chocolate chip cookie. The aroma floods the room.

In front of each plate sits a child, nine of them, one for each plate.

A man walks in wearing khaki pants, a white buttoned-up shirt with the top button undone, and a gray tweed sport coat, unbuttoned. His black loafers click off the tile floor as he positions himself in front of the table, where he introduces the following covenant: If they refrain from touching the cookie over the next ten minutes, they will receive a second cookie.

He then exits the room. The clock starts.

Immediately, three of the children attack the cookie. The smell overtakes them. The memories of past cookies invades their wills. They gorge. They smile. They are satisfied. The three cookies are gone in sixty seconds. With nine minutes remaining and nothing left to do, the children begin to pick at the crumbs.

The rest of the children wait. Minute after minute ticks by. Two of the children begin to move their noses towards the cookies, stopping within centimenters, gasping at the aroma which makes their mouths water. Another child licks the cookie, giving himself a taste but leaving no paper trail.

Finally, one of the two whiffers breaks. He breaks off a chunk of the cookie and swallows it. Recognizing what he has done, that all is now lost, he spurns partial victory, or partial defeat, and devours the entire cookie.

Giving into peer pressure, the other whiffer follows suit and downs his cookie.

The other child takes another lick and squirms, trying to muster the willpower to abstain.

Two other children patiently sit watching the others. The distractions help them to avoid that which sits in front of them. One of the two sits on her hands.

The ninth child has removed himself from the table. He sits facing the corner, refusing to watch his peers or his cookie. Yet, he cannot avoid the cloud of scent. He becomes antsy.

With 2:14 left on the clock, the hand-sitter lifts up her thigh, releases the hand, and bends off a piece of the cookie. She immediately returns the hand to its original position, chews slowly, and waits.

At ten minutes, the man in tweed returns. He bestows three freshly-baked cookies upon the two children who had not touched their cookie - one as the promised reward, one to replace the lukewarmedness which had consumed the original, and one as a gift.

These final two eat while the others look on.

What differentiated these two victors from the other seven? Certainly not their desire for cookies. They simply understood the exceeding value, desirability, and beauty of what was to come. More than that though, they trusted the administrator of the gift to come through on his promise.

(Ed.'s note: I ripped this scene from a science experiment my friend recently described to me. No great origianality here. I simply enjoyed re-creating the story and sharing it will you all.)


Anonymous said...

I want one.

Oakley said...

I think the one thing that set these kids apart was discipline and obediance. These are two HUGE traits that are important biblically (John) as well as for life in general. I agree that these things need to be built on trust as well. I can show you some other studies on childhood coping mechanisms that have been studied to help children achieve a goal or distract them from performing a given "forbidden" action. And please don't tell megan who received your anti-marriage speech. I'm curious to see the battle of wills.......

Jenn Pappa said...

i heard he's the carrot monster now

i bet all of the kids could have not eaten a carrot

Megan said...


imagine me making a really really mean face at you.

that's my response.

and just because you've challenged me ben is now going to receive a great many voicemails and comments from me.

so ben... if you get annoyed, blame matt.

Anonymous said...

I want a carrot too.

Ben said...


If you ever want to know the identity of Jane Doe, meet me behind Borders at midnight tomorrow night. Bring $10.00 in a black briefcase. No police. No wires. No posses. Ask for "Red Fox."

Jeff said...

but the cookie tastes so good.