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A chili mistake

We stopped at a chinese grocery store on our way back home. It was easy to get lost at Chin’Prix, the overstocked corridors emulating the human nervous system led one anywhere and nowhere at the same time. The air was flooded with a sweet-sour smell mixed with plastics. All products were labeled in chinese, so we’d have been blind-shopping if it weren’t for a few manga drawings on the packaging.

“Are those roasted green peas?”

We were craving for a snack prize after a long working day. It’s funny that, while fully unaware, we’re most of the time driven by the reward-punishment theory (or am I alone here?). The things I find pleasing, I do them again. It’s inevitable, natural. And that’s why I’m not good at sports. I don’t have the patience to wait for the glorified gratification. My mum took me shopping when I’d get an A in math. The king awarded the three musketeers for saving his ass. And, on the other end, Prometheus was condemned by Zeus for stealing fire from Olympus (justice sucked back then too). So it seems to be an ancient method, even a well-functioning one.

I found the roasted green peas, camouflaged among lines of similar boxes. It’s one of these products where expectation never meets reality, but I grabbed them anyway. I was trying to decipher the sauce’s ingredients. It looked far too red to be wasabi, but maybe they didn’t have enough budget to get that shade of green. Next to us, a group of teenagers were hesitating between two identical instant noodle packs. They were so lost they engaged in an improvised debate, unconsciously split in two teams: the right and the left - what a wonderful real-life depiction. If Descartes could see them he would be proud. I glanced at them and a mixed feeling of wisdom and nostalgia broke through my soul. I suddenly had this urge to tell them everything I knew, all that I learned through many (reiteration: MANY) mistakes. To-great-extent-avoidable mistakes. I wanted to shout at them how precious their time was, secretly longing to be a teenager again. I wanted to yell: [dramatic and desperately] “Do not waste your time on instant noodles. Don’t you see it? I’m twenty-eight years old. Yes, I’m a millennial (but very close to gen-Z) and yes, I know YOLO is really out of fashion but believe me, I swear to you, it’s real. Do you know how lucky you are? You can still change into anything and anyone, shape your thoughts in a million ways. You can still feel so many things for the first time. Leave these fucking instant noodles and go, go live, just consciously live. For better or for worse, and, as cliche as it sounds, we only live once. And that is so beautiful and terrifying at the same time”.

My lips were sealed. But somehow, my face must have expressed it all. They looked back at me, then left the two boxes in the wrong place and rushed towards the exit. I sighed. “Okay, let’s go live. Grab anything but not spicy”.

Two hours later I could see my face’s reflection in a huge red chili soup. Well, I guess I’ll keep making mistakes till I die, probably even beyond that.



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