ONE DAY as we wended our way through the market, I paused at the candy bins and scooped out a pound of jellybeans.

That evening, Joan empties jellybeans into a cut-glass bowl. I watch as she delicately extracts one of each color and conducts her taste test preparatory to methodically consuming the choicest jellybeans.

In contrast, my position on jellybeans has always been that one should dip into the bowl and extract a random sampling. We never reached agreement on this point of etiquette.

I point out that if she persists we will end up with only purple jellybeans. As on earlier occasions, the warning has no effect. This goes on for a few evenings as my random samples become statistically deficient in black jellybeans, then orange ones, then green ones. On the third evening, the bowl contains only purple jellybeans. She pushes it toward me. "Just close your eyes and dig in," she says, "They're all yours."

I say, "Oh boy, purple jellybeans!"

She smiles. "I saved them for you," she says.


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