The prosecution: Hans
Alicia eats the chocolate biscuits too fast. My upbringing means I want them to last longer
We get sent a package of around 50 homemade shortbread biscuits by my mum and dad each year. Some are covered in cornflakes, others are made with marzipan and syrup, but some are covered with chocolate. They are the most delicious and our favourites, but my wife, Alicia, always eats them too fast.
If I have something delicious, I want to enjoy it for the longest time possible. I like to evenly distribute my joy – I don’t eat all the best biscuits first. So I’ll take a chocolate one, then next time I’ll choose one with cornflakes or marzipan and syrup. It prolongs the joy of returning to a chocolate biscuit – you can save them for bad times.
But Alicia has a completely different attitude. She wants all the good stuff now before it’s gone. The result is that we usually run out of the best biscuits too quickly.
I will say each year, “Leave me some of those chocolate ones, I haven’t had many yet” and her response is, “Well, as long as they are still there, they are up for grabs.” But I don’t want to eat the best ones on her schedule; I simply want them to last longer.
It makes sense to distribute them properly, but in our home if I don’t eat them quickly, I don’t get any. To keep up with her I would have to force myself to eat them more quickly, but that’s no fun.
Sometimes I’ll ask her not to eat them as fast, but it doesn’t resonate. Also, the biscuits come from my family, so really I should get the most say. I grew up making these biscuits with my parents when I was a boy, so they are special to me. I was raised in a disciplined household and I’m used to being methodical. As a child I would eat my sweets a lot slower than my siblings. I just like to maximise my joy. I don’t want to speed up my biscuit-eating habits: why can’t Alicia try slowing hers down?
The defence: Alicia
Hans thinks you should save the best ones for later – but I am just not that restrained
I think Hans likes having the biscuits there for the sake of it. The box is full for the first couple of weeks, so he has ample opportunity to go for what he wants. Sometimes I say, “If you want a chocolate one, eat a chocolate one.” But weirdly, he will go to the box and take another, normal biscuit. He says he doesn’t want to be forced to eat the good ones when I say so.
I find it strange because Hans complains about not having access to the chocolate ones, but then when I encourage him to take one, he doesn’t want to. Perhaps he enjoys torturing me – or is he trying to teach me a lesson in self-discipline?
Recently, we got down to the last two chocolate biscuits in the box. I’d had mine and I was waiting for Hans to have his since he’d complained that I’d eaten too many good ones. But it took him a whole eight days to take his chocolate biscuit! Every time I went to the box, it was there, staring back at me, tempting me.
Last year the tension was heightened because my family came to our house to visit and we offered them some biscuits. The best ones disappeared more quickly because everyone likes the chocolate ones the most. It’s normal human behaviour to go for the best option first. It’s like with the chocolate selection boxes at Christmas – you just expect the nicest ones to be eaten first, you’re always left with the bad ones by the end. Hans has grown up thinking that you should save some good stuff for bad times ahead, whereas I’m not that restrained.
I don’t have a huge sweet tooth, but when chocolate is in the house I do eat it quickly. If Hans wants some, I have to leave his bit in his study because if I see it in front of me, I will eat it. I think it’s silly to count out all the biscuits each year. Hans needs to stop rationing the biscuits. If they are there, just go for it.
The jury of Guardian readers
Should Alicia show some restraint with the chocolate biscuits?
I understand Hans wanting to savour the chocolate biscuits and not gorge on them immediately. But leaving one for eight days is an extreme test of self-control, a legacy of his disciplined childhood. Why not ask his parents to send only chocolate biscuits and sack off the marzipan and cornflake ones?
Alicia is aware Hans grew up in a strict household and should let him eat the biscuits as he pleases. He is gracious to share them, albeit painstakingly. Though, Hans, I have to say, “Life is short, enjoy the simple pleasures, tomorrow isn’t guaranteed!”
Hans wants these biscuits to be eaten in precisely the way he thinks is correct. While they have some emotional importance to him, this feels rigid and uncompromising. It’s not as if Alicia is wolfing them down as soon as they arrive. He should try to relax a little.
I am sympathetic to Hans’s methods, but it’s not on Alicia to help maintain his discipline. I suggest he sets some biscuits aside to enjoy at his pace, or attempt a more challenging self-discipline: helping Alicia maximise her joy while he’s maximising his own.
Alicia is not guilty. She doesn’t eat all the best biscuits– she encourages Hans to eat them, but he doesn’t. If Hans wants to save his share of the best ones, he could put them into a separate tin, then eat them at his leisure.
You be the judge
So now you can be the judge, click on the poll below to tell us: should Alicia stop eating the chocolate biscuits so quickly?
We’ll share the results on next week’s You be the judge.
The poll will close at 9AM GMT on 3 February
Last week’s result
We asked if Elsie’s brother Ollie should get her better birthday presents, as his lack of effort makes her sad.
51% of you said no – Ollie is innocent
49% of you said yes – Ollie is guilty