A woman of a certain age, sitting on a bench in front of a bagel store, accidentally drops a muffin from a black plastic bag onto the sidewalk. This neighborhood is full of bagel stores, cafes, clothing boutiques, pet day-care centers, nail spas, banks and drug stores. But try to find a shoemaker!
The woman, who looks moderately prosperous, stoops to pick up the muffin, barely preventing a second one from sliding from the bag. As she stoops, the fallen muffin speaks.
"Wait!" it says, in a gravelly voice. It is a golden brown corn muffin, big and round, with cracks on top that vaguely resemble facial features (like the man in the moon). "What are you doing? Don't you realize what's on these sidewalks? Haven't you heard of the germ theory of disease?"
"Heavens!" exclaims the round and pleasant-looking gray-haired woman, who wears glasses with plastic rims, a gray woolen coat, and flashy, new-looking orange and green walking shoes that look like running shoes. "A talking muffin!" And securing the bag, she begins nervously to brush off the retrieved muffin.
"Who do you think you're fooling?" it asks, trying not to laugh, because the brushing tickles. "You know you're not really getting the dirt off. And you don't even look needy."
The old woman becomes incensed. "Mind your own business, you officious ... baked good!" And she raises the muffin to her mouth.
But, before she can bite into it, it stops her in her tracks. "Go ahead," it says. "Enjoy your dog-shit muffin!"
This shockingly rude remark causes the woman to drop the muffin a second time. Leaving it on the sidewalk, she carefully extracts a second one from the bag, takes a big bite, rises to her feet, and hurries off.
But the new muffin is dry, and so (thanks to the first one's imprecation) is her mouth. So she puts it back in the bag and proceeds toward her apartment, two blocks south, where she anticipates toasting and eating the rest of her muffin with raspberry jam, a nice cup of tea—and no further interruptions.
"My goodness!" she thinks, as she navigates the oblivious text messagers, the big cracks in the sidewalk, and the aggressive Sunday morning baby carriages and dog walkers. "It's getting so a person can't even enjoy the simple pleasures. Life has become so contentious."
Meanwhile, the clever muffin wastes no time. Before it can attract the unwelcome attentions of a host of natural enemies—bugs, pigeons, rats, squirrels, voracious homeless humans—it flips onto an edge and, like a skillful skateboarder, slaloms north along the sidewalk toward home, the little muffin room, which is located in a hidden alcove off the lobby of a famous old apartment house known locally as "The Bakery Building."
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