52 - The Right Thing to Do
Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example.
Julie still stood there, watching me, with her mouth pulled to one side, like she was trying to decide something.
Finally, she decided.
"Clarence, how do you know what's right to do?"
"What do you mean, 'Right'?"
She chewed on that for a while.
I stirred the pancake batter.
She tried again.
"If you have a big decision to make, and you're pretty sure what's right, actually, but somehow you can't make it feel right? You know what I mean?"
"Let me get this straight," I said. You have a big decision to make, yes?"
"It doesn't have to be my decision, I just mean—you know—decisions in general."
"And you wouldn't care to tell me just what this decision is?"
She shook her head.
I plunged on.
"But you think you know what's the right thing to do, already?"
"Yeah, well, I mean, it's sort of obvious… I mean I know it's the only right thing to do and all, but it just doesn't—I can't make it feel right. You know?"
"I think so."
I opened the refrigerator to put the batter away. My eyes fell on some grapes I'd stocked for salads.
I looked at her.
"Close your eyes."
"Time for another lesson."
For a second I thought she was going to argue, but then she closed them, and stood there, waiting.
I pulled a grape off it's stem and touched it to her lips.
She chewed, thoughtfully.
"A grape. So?"
"Close your eyes. Is it good?"
"Okay. Now keep those eyes closed."
I took out another grape, and reached over by the grill for the salt shaker. The grape was damp, so the salt stuck real good. I really poured it on.
I put it to her lips.
"Now try this."
She spit it out in her hand.
"Ech! That was awful."
I raised my eyebrows in amazement.
"How do you know?"
She stopped wiping her mouth and gawked at me.
"What do you mean?"
"How did you figure out which taste was good and which was bad?"
"I… I just… That's just how it tasted."
"But how did you know that?"
"What are you talking about? It either tastes good or it doesn't, that's all."
"And you can just tell that, without any special tricks or techniques or…?"
"Duh. I mean—sorry—what are you talking about?"
"What if you were supposed to love salted grapes?"
"Yeah. Say I'd been planning this moment since you were born, looking forward to how much you'd love salted grapes?"
"What if I was?"
"Well, I suppose I could give them a second chance."
I salted another one and handed it to her. She did her best to hide her distaste.
"Well?" I asked.
"It's not as bad as the first time. I might learn to like them. Maybe."
"Good. Very open-minded. I'll fix you a big plate of them for breakfast."
Her eyes got wider.
"No. I mean, that's okay. Actually, I—I don't think I like them that much. Actually."
"I think you're a very wise girl. Now get to your work, so I can do mine."