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Essays by Karen Anderson: Cupcakes

Essays by Karen Anderson.png
Illustration by Kacie Brown

Years ago, I joined a women’s discussion group and began to get acquainted with the other members. Although I know it’s wrong to judge people, I have to admit I found one of the women annoying.

I’ll call her Gail and she always needed to know more than anyone else, to have the last word. No matter what the topic, Gail had been there, done that—and done it well. It was tempting to try to compete with her, to assert my own competence, but I knew that wasn’t the answer.

Compassion was the answer and I tried to find some. Then, one evening Gail started talking about her work as an elementary school teacher. Instead of telling us how capable she was, she confessed that when mothers brought her cupcakes, she secretly put them in the waste basket.

Then, while working late, she secretly retrieved the cupcakes and ate them. How we laughed! And suddenly I liked Gail, liked her a lot—her honesty, her humanity. And I was reminded how being vulnerable makes us so much more likable than being superior.

In one place or another, in one way or another, we’ve all secretly retrieved the cupcakes. If we’re brave, we admit it.

Karen Anderson is a writer who lives and works in Traverse City, Michigan. She was a columnist for the Traverse City Record-Eagle for 30 years and published two collections.