precision matters.

We were having a very serious argument about a domestic crisis: who had eaten all the cheesy poofs.

"I told you that I had eaten most of them." This was me. I had eaten most of them. He had been gone, and really, what did he expect?

"Yeah, but you ate all of them."

"No, I ate most of them. There were some left. Most."

"There are like 500 cheesy poofs in a bag, and you left 5."

"That is most, not all."

The argument continued on in this way for a while, but my mind had been hijacked. As soon as he had inserted a number into the conversation, I found myself thinking about how many cheesy poofs were in a bag. There was no way there were 500. It's distracting when someone is wrong.

This is actually a common problem with me. I like precision. It matters in many cases. And then in other cases, not so much. But it's like I can't tell the difference between when it matters and when it doesn't. Before the conversation can continue, I have to go back to this one point and correct it, then we can move on. Except that we rarely move on after that, because the argument becomes about that little thing that I should have just left alone. Nothing ever gets resolved this way.

I saw someone else do this once, another precise kinda guy. Someone was making a point, and he threw a number in there in a way that it was clear that he was just making an estimate. This other dude broke in, scoffing, that his estimate was way off. And we went from having an interesting theoretical discussion to having a completely boring discussion that was something we could have looked up if any of us cared enough to do so, which we did not. I watched this happen, thought, man, that is really annoying. Then I realized, oh wait, this is what Josh has been complaining about.

So I was aware of this tendency of mine during the Cheesy Poof Blowout of 2012. I held up my end of the argument, which was about most vs. all, but in my head, I added "Also, there are not 500 cheesy poofs in a bag" to the end of each statement. I was trying so hard to keep the argument in place, to ignore that pedantic voice in my head. Particularly since I knew I was right anyway. I had said "most," and most is not all. I was going to win this one, as long as I kept it about this, and not about how many cheesy poofs are in a bag.

"Also, there are not 500 cheesy poofs in a bag." Aw, crap.

And there went my high ground. Also, the argument was no longer light-hearted. It changed. Not to be about the fact that I am a jerk who nitpicks random guesses that were not meant to be taken seriously, but about how many cheesy poofs are in a bag. He got kinda mad, which I did not understand. Even though I knew that I should not have contradicted him on that point, I still was confused as to why he was so very angry about something that did not matter.

The paradox of being me - I go to the trouble of correcting people on minutiae, then wonder why they get so mad about such a trivial thing anyway.

"Because you just disagree with me because you like to. You pick some little thing that can't be proven either way."

This is not why he was mad. He was mad because I said he was wrong, full stop. He could've said that I was changing the subject or that I was being unnecessarily nitpicking when I had understood his point. Those would have been good points. But as we have seen, we all don't always go with our best arguments. Still! His loss was my gain, and in his response, I thought of a way to rescue ourselves from this stupid, stupid fight.

"We can easily find the answer to that."


"Let's figure out how many cheesy poofs are in a bag."

See, I am not nit-picky and obnoxious, I am a fun girlfriend who came up with spontaneous couple projects like counting snack foods!

So we did. We bought a new bag of cheesy poofs, opened it, and, after arguing about the best way to count cheesy poofs, counted them. There were 167 in a 11 ounce bag.

The trouble was, now he was even madder, because he had been proven wrong. And I was a little sad, because I felt like I'd been trying really hard not to be a jerk. I had recognized my error before it happened, did it anyway, and then felt bad about it and tried to recover. That is a great improvement over complete obliviousness. Of course, since all that had happened in my head, it was the same to him. Also, I probably could've apologized in there or something. Then he said I was probably going to go write on my blog about how he was wrong and I was right.

He was right about that.

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