Dogs, Iced Tea, Squirrels, and Relationships

You won’t see me post about personal things here much, but if there’s something to be gleaned, I’ll talk about it. This is one of those times.

My friend Ariel likes to tell a story about her two dogs: Kimi and Tai. Every day, she’d give them both a biscuit, and being dogs, they’d promptly eat both up. But one day, Kimi discovered that if she didn’t eat her biscuit right away, she’d have one for later and Tai would not. So instead of eating it like Tai did, she decided she would wait, and she carried that biscuit around the house for not hours, but DAYS. This did not make Tai happy. Tai didn’t understand why Kimi would do such a thing, and the longer she went without eating it, the crazier it made him, and for some reason, the more it pleased her. She would leave the biscuit in the middle of a room, hide, and then when Tai came in to try and eat it, she would run out barking wildly at him. All to prove that it was HER biscuit and she was planning on eating it when she was good and ready. It didn’t matter that the biscuit was getting old and gross. It was hers.

One day, Kimi was distracted long enough for Tai to successfully eat the biscuit. Ariel describes it as one swift movement. The biscuit was there, Tai came out in a flurry, and then it was gone. No crumbs. No trace of it. Kimi was confused and devastated.

I’m like Kimi. I mean, I don’t squirrel food away for spite, but I have discovered that if I don’t eat all my food right away, there’s more for later. And sometimes this leads to me never eating it, because I was “saving” it. And sometimes this leads to tragedy.

On Saturday, my boyfriend and I went to a restaurant. I got a flavored tea, and since it offered free refills, I asked for my refill in a to-go cup so I could enjoy it later on. I intended to store it in the fridge and bring it to lunch on Monday.

Sunday night, right before I went to bed, I noticed an empty cup next to my boyfriend with the restaurant’s logo. He drank my tea. The worst part was, he’d actually drank it Saturday night, and I was right next to him the whole time. I was just too engrossed in whatever we were watching to notice he was drinking it. He admitted that originally he’d intended to only have a few sips, to see if I’d notice, but when I didn’t, and he discovered the cup was running rather low anyway, he just finished it off, not realizing what a big deal it was to me.

He apologized. I was pretty sad (yes, it was only tea. Yes, it was that good). But we talked about it and I realized that we grew up in very different households. I always remember that if someone in my house bought or asked for something specific at the grocery store, or if one of us brought home something from a restaurant, it was generally understood that item belonged to that person (with the exception of certain communal things), and you didn’t eat it without permission. Thus, I thought my iced tea was safe. I’d ordered it. It was mine.

In my boyfriend’s family, apparently the fridge was just total freaking anarchy. If it was important to you to save something, you couldn’t put your name on it and expect that you were good. You had to make it so that no one else even knew it existed. He described how his younger brother would hide Dr. Pepper cans around the house so that my boyfriend couldn’t find them.

I always knew communication was important, but here I found a new reason why: you can’t assume everyone is on the same page. You can’t assume that everyone else’s experiences are your own.

There’s also probably something to be learned here about what separates us from the animals, but whatever.

So now I have a new nickname at home. Squirrel.

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