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August 29, 2008

Can I try your cheesecake?

August 28. Day 59.

An anecdote: I was relaxing on the terrace of a wine bar yesterday evening, when one of the two older men sitting next to me addressed himself to my person.

"Are you alright? You look angry."

"I'm just pensive," I said, smiling now to make up for my sober expression.

Why? Why did I smile instead of saying, "Actually, my husband died" -- as my dinner companion later told me she wants to say, after getting the very same line countless times. Why didn't I say, "I don't see you smiling." Why do men expect women, especially young women, to be bubbly and sweet all the time? Do they smile softly while walking their dogs, feeling excited about life but too shy and delicate to express these complicated feelings? Do they hum to themselves in line at bank, thinking of the delicious carrot soup they'll make tonight for their loved ones? Anyway.

A word of advice: I came across these tips about salary negotiation in academia, which translates to many other fields. Sensible, and gets right to the point.

And, and asking: I went to The Living Room, a student haunt by SDSU decorated like -- you got it. At the counter, the sacher torte immediately beckoned, with delicate dollops of raspberry jam peeking between layers of chocolate sponge cake, all snuggling under a blanket of ganache. But I started chatting with the cashier about her favorite dessert (the berry cheesecake) and whether she gets to eat for free (only if she's lucky.) Ultimately, the sacher won. One of my core tenets: never say no to raspberries and chocolate.

Between Mr. A and I the torte quickly disappeared, but was I in the mood for something more? I was still thinking about that cheesecake. Could I commit to a whole slice? Should I really indulge in two desserts? Or stay calm, avoid the midnight calories, save a few bucks.

I ended up opting for a compromise: Sample the cheesecake, to get the flavor without the commitment.

"Here's a rather strange question," I asked the cashier. "I'm thinking of getting a slice of cheesecake, but would it be possible to sample a sliver first?"

"It's pre-cut," she said, staring at me as if I were some kind of compulsive cake eater who goes around asking for free samples all the time.

Fair enough. But perhaps prefacing with "strange question" wasn't a good move. After all, I shouldn't bias people against me before I ask. At least let them think I'm crazy after giving me what I want... Note to self.

Gained: Nothing, though sometimes, being told no is a good thing.
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