Who gives a crap about marshmallows?

This is the problem I always have with things like this.

What if marshmallows don’t really excite you?

Put a marshmallow in front of me, and I could wait until doomsday. But, put a CD of Riccardo Muti playing some Brahms, or a book about orthographies throughout history, and tell me to wait, and I’ll be on that thing like a frat boy face-down on a secondhand futon before your back is turned.

For whatever reason, my instantiations of what could be called instinctive animal drives are very weak. I love good-tasting food, but … I still have to remember to eat most times. I had no idea that what I tended to do with food even had a name: intermittent fasting. I just don’t bother to eat if I’m not hungry, and I have to get pretty hungry to notice. My stomach whispers, and I don’t tend to pay it much mind at any rate. I’m highly likely to not bother eating until around 4pm, upon which point I notice that my stomach feels a bit acidy, and the last thing I want to do is put food into it at that point. Then, I remember that I haven’t eaten all day, make myself nibble some pita bread, and when I start to feel better, I’ll consciously decide to have a proper meal. And I want to get it over with as quickly as possible so I can get back to whatever else it was I was doing.

I suppose I regard eating as an occasionally pleasant but irritating interruption of more fun things I could be doing. Sort of like trimming one’s nails or using the toilet — it’s just part of the basic maintenance of having a body, so you do it quickly and when you need to, to get it out of the way, so you can get back to Chapter 5 or measure 34, or whatever.

I mean, it’s not resistance if there’s no perceived force against which one is resisting. It’s not a matter of “Don’t eat the marshmallow!” so much as “Who cares about the marshmallow?” When your head churns out way more interesting things than a damned marshmallow, the opportunity to sit and think quietly to oneself is like going to Disneyland anyway. Nothing below the neck is as fun to satiate as the stuff above the neck is. And yes, I do mean that, too.

I also think the study misunderstands the reaction of poor kids to the marshmallow; I just know some bell-curve moron is going to say that a poor person’s inability to suppress their urges is why they’re poor. Neither they nor the researcher seems to entertain the idea that, if you’re poor, you pretty much do have to eat that marshmallow right when it presents itself, because poverty means that you don’t run into nice things very often. When you do, you must take advantage of them then and there. Eat that marshmallow when you see it, or else chances are the social worker will come back into the room and tell you that due to the fact that you didn’t cross a “t” when you filled out your aid form, she has since learned that you aren’t getting any marshmallows and will instead be getting a kick in the ass. So if you’re poor, you learn right quick to grab that marshmallow the second it presents itself and run.

But studies like this never follow up on The Poor™ when they take them, unlike the middle-class kids who were followed into adulthood and asked questions about their experiences with the assumption that they could actually answer them. The Poor™ are merely The Poor™, and questioning them or trying to determine motivation would probably strike people a bit like asking a macaque why it’s trying to open the box with bananas in it. (Perhaps the poor kids who took the study, if followed into adulthood, would already have learned that when white-collar people ask them questions, they don’t really care about the answers, and they would simply shrug and say, “Don’t know.” A lifetime of being assumed to be stupid, lazy, and useless does tend to make you reply with dull monosyllables when authority figures ask you things. Be too interesting in your replies, and you just might find something else taken from you.)

I have no idea what the hell this has to do with music.

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