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星星從不向黑夜許諾光明
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ready targets for your politesse

ready targets for your politesse

I was never very good at this sort of thing―this being pleasant, affable, agreeable. Take, for example, sharing. I can think of several instances in which a grade-school classmate, having forgotten his or her pencil case at home, tried to borrow something from me: I’d shake my head haughtily and refuse, reminding my bewildered classmate that we were supposed to come to class prepared. By some benevolent stroke of luck, I was not maimed and killed, à la Lord of the Flies, by my peers. Indeed, I’ve survived to see the error of my ways, and I even enjoy sharing. In fact, I give things away whenever I can, and with enthusiasm. And I even come to class unprepared occasionally, which makes me feel giddy and wicked, like knowing I’m wearing racy lingerie under my clothes.

I remember, at some point in my childhood, consciously deciding to train myself in the daily courtesies of American culture: smiling frequently, saying hello, asking “How are you,” telling someone to have a nice day, etc. I was shy, and these mundane niceties didn’t come naturally. I had to actively reach outside of myself to claim them. Each word and act had weight, and they became mine with a certain solemnity, a heavy sense of meaning. One day in particular stands out as a huge first in my young life: I was riding my pink banana-seat Schwinn down our street, and I managed to eek out a hello to an elderly man on his daily walk. I was so proud that I immediately rode home to tell my long-suffering mother.

Today I feel a small private thrill when I stoop to pick up and hand back a bag dropped by the woman behind me in line. And only a month or two ago, I took a tottering old woman by the arm and helped her across the street. I am so nice! So reformed! So human! And there’s that timid-seeming older man at the grocery store: I love taking the time to smile, to be present with him for an instant, to look him in the eye when I ask for the biggest chocolate cupcake. He reciprocates with a broad grin and, of course, the prizewinner of the pastry case.

Now, some of you may not have kindly old men with cupcakes standing by, ready targets for your politesse. But all is not lost: make your own cupcakes. The following recipe makes about thirty-six of these small wonders,

so there will be plenty for you to eat and plenty to share, as I snootily did not do with my pencils, protractors, or Elmer’s glue. Think of this as a token of my hard-earned kindheartedness.

coating sticks to the veggies chopped celery on top the Louvre and Montmartre seminal cookbook So I was one happy girl in the warm night air I never used to like bell peppers they would be perfect I give things away whenever imagining the yellow haze
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