Did I ever mention that my Grade 12 math teacher advised me to drop calculus before I failed the final exam? Probably. I always share my inadequacies openly and include you in all my failures. We all have our strengths and weaknesses and I want to ensure you’re well aware of my weaknesses.
That’s why I’ve never believed that people could do anything they set their minds to, although sometimes I wish this were true. For example, I know I could never have been a mathematician, or physicist, or engineer. I was always more of a “soft science” kind of girl.
When a simple mathematical quandary arose recently, one related to babka consumption, I was completely stymied. “What the heck is babka?” you might ask. Babka is a Jewish coffee-cakeish, brioche-like treat, the best loaf you’ve ever tasted. It requires yeast and butter and eggs as well as resting and rolling and layering and twisting and, often, chocolate. Baking babka is an all-day affair. As a one-bowl baker, I have never attempted babka myself.
Since Calgary is not known as a babka hotbed, where did I acquire this magnificent loaf? Our dear friend, P., baked it, fulfilling a promise to J. that if I righted both my heart and my liver after my most recent health blip, I deserved babka. And so I did, and so she did, and there sat the gorgeous loaf on my counter, just begging to be eaten. Let’s just say that, as the Jewish person in my marriage, I did almost all of the eating. (Sorry, J.) And when I was down to the last large piece–I couldn’t let it go stale, could I?–I made a pig of myself on the way to the dog park.
So I wondered: If a person eats babka while walking the dog, do the two actions cancel each other out? Does the size of the piece factor in? How long would I have to walk in order to burn off all the calories in that large piece? All day? Would Jelly protest the long excursion in the heat of the sun? Would I get skin cancer because I didn’t diligently put on sunscreen, eager as I was to snarf down the babka?
I spent the day seeking answers to these questions–Google is inadequate in certain situations–until I wrote the baker. P. is a teacher by training who is not only multi-talented but is wise beyond her years. I imagine she breezed through the hard sciences, although I don’t know for sure. Here is P.’s highly educated answer: “[The walk and the babka are] totally cancelled out! Especially if it is sunny out, because everyone knows you sweat out calories. As for the size of the piece, the suggested serving size is as much as you can fit on a plate at once so you don’t have to waste energy going back for seconds.”
I may not be a mathematician, but I see two fallacies in P.’s logic. First, P. assumed I might go back for seconds. What seconds? I finished the loaf! Second, P. surmised I had a plate. I was walking. Holding a plate would have looked ridiculous, although no moreso than my Cookie-Monster-esque consumption of the babka. But the rest of her logic was flawless, don’t you think? No wonder I haven’t gained an ounce.