Just had to pause work a bit earlier as my brain went on fire thinking about cookies…
FYI: to confirm, NOT browser cookies. Warm, squishy, freshly baked cookies that smell so good it hurts.
I have searched the internet at length and cannot find a particular reference, so think it was something we had as a family discussion when we were little, but… Imagine you have a cookie and then imagine someone takes two cookies off you. Assuming you started with only one, this is rather difficult to do – and this is a fairly basic use of the concept of a negative. You would have a negative cookie; less than no cookies and definitely less than a cookie.
Now imagine that you had been expecting to get a cookie since before you can even remember.
This cookie has been dreamed of and alluded to, discussed at great length in both practical and silly terms. You have imagined the way this cookie squidges, smells, how long it takes to cook, the ingredients going into it, the taste, how many chocolate chips and how many cookies would be too many cookies.
You have spent a lot of time trying to avoid cookies, because it isn’t always practical to have a cookie just because you want one. Cookies cost money and take time to prepare, they can be messy and realistically not everyone likes cookies. So, you were patient. You even said ‘no thanks’ to a cookie a few times, because it was not a sensible time to have a cookie.
Then one day, someone says that you cannot have this long anticipated cookie. Not for any of the above very reasonable reasons, most of which had a fairly good chance of being time limited.
Instead, you cannot have the cookie because there is a very decent chance that in the baking process the oven would explode and/or the cookie would end up on fire. A chance no one can put an exact value on, but not one you particularly want to take.
So there is your negative cookie. One less cookie than you had planned on having. An absence of a cookie. A cookie shaped space in your life. You are still carrying on exactly the same, as you did not have a cookie previously… So nothing has changed, except the likelihood of you getting a cookie.
No one has physically removed a cookie from you – if they ever did, by all means you should kick up a massive stink! – but it feels like they have. You are pissed off. You had planned a lot around that cookie and being denied the satisfaction hurts. You resent other people getting cookies. The smell of them hurts and the cravings keep you up at night. Obsessing about cookies is not healthy, so you start to tell yourself that you didn’t want a cookie in the first place. You know you don’t NEED a cookie; indeed there are many reasons NOT to have a cookie and many, many people live wonderful satisfied lives without having a cookie. Except, your brain struggles to wrap your head around something that was always a certainty and you keep finding yourself dwelling on thoughts of the negative cookie.
You get snarky about feeling so pissed off and grieving about a non-existent negative cookie and your brain comes up with a cookie analogy to deal with the matter.