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Is This You? Holding back

Trina Machacek

Actions speaking louder than words are usually seen as actions that shouldn’t have been taken.

While I’m pretty sure there are actions I have taken in my life I shouldn’t have taken I’m more thankful of the actions I really wanted to take but didn’t. Believe it or not there have been a time or two I’ve held myself back from doing a few things I really wanted to do. Here’s one of those stories …

I like to enter contests. Not the publishers clearing house, I have no illusions of grandeur. Well, maybe a little grandeur. Anyway. I enter contests I feel I have at least some chance of getting a return on my investment of time and effort.

When I was young and still in the silly young adult stage I entered a beer drinking contest. Lost. But at the time the free beer was the means to the end. With age comes a bit more restraint. I went through a stage of cooking contests. It’s one of those I look back at now and pat myself a little on the back at the restraint I showed. Well, here’s the whole sordid story.

It was a baking contest. I had entered a batch of my special thumbprint cookies on a local level and won. That got me moved up to the state level, when we had a big state fair and these sort of contests were fun, exciting and encouraged by businesses and the like.

So this contest required us bakers from all over the state to bring all of our ingredients to the designated place in a merchant’s building in Reno during the fall state fair, and at the designated starting time we baked our little confections for the “impartial” judges. All in front of fair attendees passing the booth who watched us like we were an attraction at the zoo. I now know what the monkeys feel like.

With the baking done the judges were called to the stage. Hearts aflutter, all of the bakers were ready to win the prize which was some sort of Corningware baking dish, as I remember it. Third place was announced. Not me. Second place was awarded. Still not me. But there was one more chance. Thump, thump, thump — can’t you just feel your heart beating? First place — drum roll — well, the head judge’s sister-in-law was so surprised when her name was called. And, uh, I wasn’t the judge’s sister-in-law.

OK, so I feel you might think I was just being a sore loser. Well, maybe a little. But here’s what I didn’t do as I referred to when I said not taking action is the best way to go.

I picked up my entry, which I had so lovingly placed in this huge, two-foot-long wicker spoon with some lively colored napkins. All festive. And as I was leaving the booth area I overheard three of the four judges talking. In short, they agreed the undercooked, bland, coconut devil’s-food raisin globs made by their boss’ sister-in-law weren’t as good as those thumbprint cookies in that basket thing! Hence I figured the fix was in. Oh, well. That’s the way the cookie crumbles — or was it?

As I took the walk of a loser down the aisle between the other fair merchants of soft water systems and handmade earrings with feathers and polished rocks, I really, I mean I really wanted to use that basket like a Jai Alai stick and fling those cookies straight up in the air. Aarrgh!

I visualized the cookies zinging way up toward the metal roof, then raining down hand chopped nuts and balls of homemade jam attached to little thumbprint cookies. Kind of like what the monkeys would do with their — food. Yeah, yeah, their food. As I calmly walked out of the building I thought of stuffing the stupid wicker spoon in the nearest trash container with all the flair of King Arthur stuffing his Excalibur sword into that solid rock.

But I didn’t. I held back and didn’t let my actions overtake me. I still feel that urge, though.

What is it that makes us stop, look and listen to that which tells us what is the right way to act? Not the politically correct way, that’s usually just too absurd. But the right way to act as to not inflict our own tirade on someone who has no idea what’s going on in our head. Like those who would’ve gotten cookie crumbs in their hair had I not taken a deep breath and held myself back. Again, I really wanted to do it!

Had I made chocolate chip cookies we might be talking about not holding back. Because the biggest reason I didn’t “toss my cookies” that day? Hello! Every cookie had my thumbprint on it!

Trina lives in Eureka, Nevada. Her book ITY BITS is on Kindle. Share with her at itybytrina@yahoo.com.