Happiness Can Be Bought If Your Standards Are Low

One of this life’s very great joys (and there are a great many of them), is to have a very specific craving and then be able to sate that very specific craving. This morning I woke up with a headache and stared at the ceiling for a minute and all I could think about—all I could think about—was egg and cheddar on an everything bagel, each bite dipped in ketchup. I had some things to do first, however, so I stayed where I was and did them. But the whole time, I kept thinking of salt and poppyseeds and bits of onion and ketchup and melted cheese. I got to a stopping point, a point when I felt I could leave my bed, venture into the world, collect my prize.

On the walk to the bagel place, my craving didn’t vanish, but became a low hum in the background, replaced with thirst. I was dehydrated. The sips of flat seltzer in the bottle by my bed hadn’t been enough. I wanted a drink. But not any drink. Orange juice. I wanted a tall glass of orange juice and I wanted to pick up to take a sip and gulp it until it was empty. The bagel place had Tropicana in a carton, an acceptable substitution. I picked one out—pulp or no pulp? no pulp and orange pineapple, that sounds nice, refreshing—and ordered my bagel and waited in line. I grabbed a straw and a napkin, and my order came up—”You’re Logan?” “Yep.” “I thought you’d be a boy.” “Yep.” I handed him my debit card. He swiped, handed it back.

I was stuffing the bagel and juice in my bag when I remembered: Ketchup. A crucial part of the craving, almost forgotten. It would have been terrible if I’d forgotten. The craving would not be satisfied, I would have been left wanting. But I remembered. I asked for ketchup, and the man gave me two packets. Hunts not Heinz—unfortunate but not game-ending. I paused, considered the greediness of a request for more, the disgustingness of a request for more then …asked for more. He gave me a handful; he knew my kind. I thanked him and turned to leave. It was lightly raining and there stools inside but the energy was off. The music was too loud, the lighting all wrong. I ventured into the mist and walked until I found a stoop that didn’t look too wet. I sat. Opened my carton of juice, inserted the straw. Drank and drank. Opened the bagel. Dipped each bite in ketchup. Used all of the packets. Took more long sips of juice. It was such a nice moment. It cost $5.10.

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