Essay: Bag of Pretzels

Feb 19, 2021

At the grocery store, I pick up orange juice and cat food and a few other essentials. I’m on my way to the check-out when I see my husband’s favorite pretzels. I know that the bag at home is almost empty and yet I hesitate.

I’m feeling vaguely annoyed with him at the moment, the result of a disagreement from the previous evening.

I try to remember the details and cannot, but the irritation remains and I walk past the pretzels.

Inside my head, I listen to my generous self argue with my petty self. It’s an old, old debate and I know both sides by heart. Why is it so hard, I wonder, to do the right thing? The kind thing? Or is it only hard for me? I turn around and go back to the snack aisle. At home, I put the pretzels on the kitchen counter so my husband will see them and not buy any. A note tells me he’s gone to the bank and the bakery. I’m upstairs when he returns and later, when I come down, I see two cookies in a plastic bag next to the pretzels. “They had peanut butter,” my husband says. “Your favorite.”