Some people have been wondering why I have made a half dozen or so apple pies over the last two weeks and shared these hot, sugary discs of happiness with them. My need comes from overly enthusiastic apple picking—I have a surplus of apples. My reason, however, is diabolical. While the reactions to receiving homemade apple pie generally range from “hey, thanks,” to “you have restored my faith in the entire Boston College male population,” my true motivation could not be further from whatever you may have been thinking. So allow me to clear things up—there is no goodness in my heart. My apple pies have nothing to do with you. It’s all about me and inflating my apple pie ego. And there is nothing you can do to stop me.
Actually, there is something you can do to stop me. You can stop being so darn happy about pie. But it never stops, and that is why I win. I have made you the fools of your own desires, using your praise and respect to fuel my ever-expanding megalomaniacal fire. You may think that by eating a piece of my delicious pie without having done anything particularly special, you have gotten the better end of the deal. I assure you that you are most deeply mistaken. There is no prize sweeter than your involuntary endorsement of my being an amazing person. Involuntary because you did not ask to be handed a slice of toasty, New England apple heaven. Involuntary because your nostrils did not ask to be lavished with cinnamon sugary sweetness. Involuntary because your taste buds did not ask to be caressed by sinfully soft fruit and crispy crust. Involuntary because your lips did not mean to mistake my pie for the hot lips of a temptress. Involuntary because your eyes did not want to close in a fit of passion—they just did as they always do when you kiss temptresses. I have given you no choice; I have played with your emotions; and I am not sorry. By fooling you into thinking I have no motive, I have ensured that you involuntarily shower me with compliments and thanks, thus achieving my true motive—to be showered with compliments and thanks.
If only you could see the looks on your innocent faces. You may see me smile when I hand you a slice of steamy apple pie. You may see me being jolly. You may see me laugh. You may smile too. You may also be jolly. You may laugh as well. But I promise from the bottom of my pestilential heart that I am not smiling and being jolly and laughing with you. I am smiling and being jolly and laughing at you—for having won the ego game, for your shower of compliments and praise, and for the ease with which I have tricked your feeble mind. What an achievement, to be on top of the world with a measly little pie. The road to greatness is often said to be kinda hard. Wrong. It takes seven apples, two tablespoons of flour, one tablespoon of lemon juice, three-fourths cup of sugar, three-fourths teaspoon of cinnamon, one-fourth teaspoon of salt, one-eighth teaspoon of ground nutmeg, and two Pillsbury pie crusts. Is it hard? No, sir. By definition, it’s easy as pie.
My pie feeds my body. Your praise feeds my ego. My kitchen is where both happen. My peeler is the scepter with which I rule your passions. My oven is the dungeon in which I hold captive your undisclosed desires. I may even offer you ice cream. Like a fool, you accept. My motives are clear and immoral: I want you to heap your praises upon me. I want you to be impressed and tell me I am a really nice person. It is great that you may enjoy a surprise piece of pie at the end of a long day. It is great that you may feel less stressed, if only for a quarter of an hour. It is great that you may think I value you as a friend and for who you are. It is great that you may think I care.
I do not care. I do not think of others. I only think of myself. I am a despicable thing, but I am only the extreme case. Acts of kindness as simple as offering someone some pie carry with them very personal benefits, even when these benefits are not the conscious objective of kindness. These benefits can be as simple as respect, acceptance, and feelings of self-justification. I am sure that some people do devote their lives to service, or spend a few hours of their busy weeks at volunteering, or simply bake pies for no other reason than that they feel moved to be kind to others and enjoy the reciprocal happiness derived from the happiness of others. But a small part of kindness comes back to fuel that ego—that concept of self—whether or not you want it to.
That being said, do not expect me to stop making pies. Do not try to stop me, now that you know my motives. Resistance is futile for the weak of heart, and you, my friends, have a severe weakness in your hearts for my fresh apple pie. So have my pie. And eat it too. And thank you. Thank you, from the bottom of my unstoppable ego.
Featured Image by Matthew Mead / AP Photo