For Those Who Drink Egg Nog

Nina loved egg nog, but her stomach worked in a peculiar way. She could only drink four ounces of egg not, and four ounces exactly. If she drank even a drop more than four ounces, she would get a stomach ache. If she drank even a drop less than four ounces, she would get a stomach ache. The only amount she was capable of drinking is four ounces exactly.

One day, she reached into her refrigerator and pulls out an already-open carton of egg nog. In fact, the carton was almost empty, and Nina guessed that it had only four ounces of egg nog left in it. Egg nog comes in one-quart cartons, and Nina reasoned that if she had been measuring correctly all along, she should have never ended up with less than four ounces in the carton, unless the carton was empty. “Uh oh,” she thought, “the stores are closed today, so I had better remember to pick up more egg nog from the market tomorrow.”

So, Nina dumped the entire contents of the carton into her glass. To her dismay, however, there was slightly more than four ounces in the glass. Nina reached for her special egg nog measuring cup: it was precisely four ounces in volume. She poured the egg nog into her measuring cup, but some of it spilled on the counter top, leaving her with something less than four ounces of egg nog.

In a last-ditch effort to salvage her cup of egg nog, Nina sopped up some of the spilled egg nog with a paper towel, and squeezed it into the measuring cup. The good news was that she managed to get her four ounces of egg nog. The bad news was that the egg nog was now dirty with crumbs and grease from the counter top.

She didn’t get a stomach ache, but her egg nog was ruined.

*        *        *

Tina and Simon both love egg nog. One day, Simon brought a carton of egg nog home with him after work, as a surprise for Tina. Over the next few days, Tina had a few cups of egg nog and reveled in its creamy and delicious taste. When Simon came home one day and tried to pour himself a cup of egg nog, he found that the carton was empty.

“You didn’t save me any egg nog?” he asked Tina.

Tina shot smirked at him and said, “I thought you bought it as a gift for me…”

She was right, Simon thought, but it would have been nice if Tina had left him some egg nog. “I did,” he said, “but I was hoping you would save me some.”

“You should have told me you wanted some when you brought it home,” Tina said, her eyes wide. “I would have saved you some, had I only known you wanted it.”

“You already know that I love egg nog,” said Simon.

“But you said you bought it for me. Here, would you like me to drive to the store and buy you some egg nog?”

“No, that’s okay,” Simon said, “I’ll just have tea instead. I’ll pick up some more egg nog tomorrow.”

The next day, he did indeed come home with more egg nog. Tina was quick to pour a cup for Simon. She gave it to him with a smile and a kiss.

A few minutes later, the phone rang. Tina answered, and Simon heard her laugh and talk excitedly with the person on the other end of the line. When she got off the phone, Tina announced, “My friend Mary is having an impromptu baby shower at her apartment in 15 minutes. I can’t go empty-handed. I’m going to take the carton of egg nog with me so that everyone has something to drink at the party.”

Simon frowned into his cup. “Well,” he said glumly, “at least I got to have one cup of egg nog this time.”

“Oh, don’t be like that,” said Tina. “I will buy you another carton of egg nog on my way home.” That made Simon feel better.

The next day, Simon came home from work and poured a cup of egg nog. Just then, Tina walked in, saw what Simon was doing, and said excitedly, “Egg nog! Can I have a cup, too?”

“Of course,” said Simon. He handed her the cup he had just poured, got another cup from the cupboard, and started pouring another cup for himself. Unfortunately, there was only half a cup of egg nog left in the carton. Simon was confused. “Didn’t you just buy this carton of egg nog after your party?”

“Not exactly,” said Tina. “We ran out of egg nog at the party, so I had to go to the store and get more. We didn’t finish that second carton, so I brought it home with me to give to you.” She smiled and winked.

“So… you didn’t actually buy me a carton of egg nog,” Simon said slowly.

Tina was surprised. “I brought some egg nog home for you, just like I said I would. Why does it have to be a special carton purchased only for you?”

“Oh, it isn’t that,” said Simon. “It’s just that I never seem to get any of the egg nog.”

Tina shot him a glare. “Would you like to have my cup of egg nog? Here.”

“I just thought you’d think of me, that’s all,” said Simon, realizing that the conversation had soured.

“I brought you home more egg nog,” said Tina, “what more do you want?”

“Well, I only have half a cup here—”

“I offered you my cup!” Tina interjected.

“But you wouldn’t have to do that if you had just bought a carton for me like you said you would,” said Simon.

“I brought home some egg nog!”

“I know, I know,” Simon said uneasily, “but that was egg nog you bought for your party. What you brought home wasn’t even enough for both of us.”

“I offered you my cup!”

“After I had given it to you,” said Simon a little louder. “I was thinking of you. I just wanted you to think of me, too.”

Tina pushed her cup of egg nog across the coffee table and went out to walk the dog. She called out through the closing door, “You only think about yourself!”

Simon didn’t feel like drinking egg nog anymore.

*        *        *

Mina walked through the front door after work and collapsed on the sofa.

Linus could see that she had had a bad day. “You look like you’ve had a rough day,” he said. “Shall I pour you a cup of egg nog?”

“Ugh!” grunted Nina. “I’m so sick of egg nog that I never want to think about it again!”

Simon put the carton back in the refrigerator, saying, “But we love egg nog! It’s our thing.”

Mina held out her hand. “Sorry,” she said. “Too much egg nog at all these office holiday parties, I guess.” Behind her, Linus shrugged as he sipped some egg nog from his own cup.

He didn't offer Mina any egg nog for several weeks, and she didn't seem to miss it. One night, they both had some spare time and Mina asked Linus what he wanted to do. "I think we should pour each other a cup of egg nog, just like old times, and reminisce about that trip we took to the East Coast!" He grinned at her conspiratorially.

She smiled. "That sounds nice."

Linus put on some candles and they got cozy on the couch with their cups. In between sips, he recounted some of the adventures they'd had: Did she remember how hard it was to get hot water to come out of the shower at the hotel? Did she remember that little gazebo they found while taking a shortcut through a little neighborhood park on their way to the pier? Who could forget the old man in the restaurant who tried to challenge Simon to a Scotch-drinking contest! They laughed and laughed.

As Linus finished off his second cup of egg nog, he glanced at Mina's cup. She had hardly touched it in the hours they'd been talking. "You still don't want to think much about egg nog, I see," he said.

Mina smiled and shook her head. "I tried some, but I guess I just don't like it anymore." She waited a beat before reassuring him, "This was nice, though!"

Linus smiled, too. "It was nice, wasn't it."

"I think I'd better get to bed," Mina told him then. "I have to get to work early tomorrow." She kissed him good night, stood up, and caused the candles to flicker as she swooped her scarf around on her way upstairs to bed.

Linus watched the flickering flames settle back down to their resting position: A perfect teardrop shape perched atop a long, white rod. A drop of melted wax rolled down the side of the candle as Linus reached over to finish Mina's cup of egg nog.

"Next time," he thought, "I'll buy scented candles. The smoke from these burns my eyes."

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