Miss Bartell (my fourth grade teacher): Would you rather have one cookie or four cookies?
Me: Four! I want four cookies!
(Miss Bartell shows me one enormous cookie and four tiny cookies.)
Me: (sheepishly) Miss Bartell, may I change my answer? I think I want one cookie.
Miss Bartell: Are you sure you want the one big cookie? You may change your mind, but only this once!
Me: Is this a trick?
(Room filled with the chuckles of fourth grade classmates)
Me: Are they both the same cookies? Does the big cookie taste the same as the small cookie?
Miss Bartell: Good question! Why don’t you taste them both and you tell me?
Me: I can try them both?
Miss Bartell: Yes, I will allow that because you asked the right question!
Me: (tasting) Well, the small cookie is sublime, a dense and chewy combination of what seems to be the finest Valrhona Classic Dark Chocolate, notable for its complex and balanced flavors…
Miss Bartell: And the big one?
Me: Tastes like Suzanne’s smelly armpit!
Suzanne: Hey! Be nice!
Me: Okay, okay, sorry. It smells kinda funny. The cookie tastes like it was made in a factory. It’s stale, the chocolate is flavorless, the dough is gummy…
Miss Bartell: Suzanne, please distribute one of the small cookies to each of your classmates.
Suzanne: (sneering at me) Yes, Miss Bartell.
Me: Miss Bartell?
Miss Bartell: Yes?
Me: Thank you for teaching me never to accept the obvious first answer, to always ask the second question, and to seek context for the information I receive from you and others who routinely attempt to control my mind.
Miss Bartell: Don’t talk with you mouth full.