During a troubled time in my past, I was staying with my brother and his roommate in their apartment in Phoenix for about a month. One incident stands out as the first time I really considered that I might be a bit more perceptive than most, and a bit more cynical than most.

My brother (S) was dating a woman (A), and she had come over. My brother’s roommate (C) was feeling down and depressed. After talking for a while, A offered to go to the store to get us all some drinks. When she came back, she had gotten us all drinks, but she had gotten us all flowers as well. At first I thought that was very sweet, and I felt that way until she went back into the apartment to make something to eat.

Then it hit me. And I said this aloud to my brother and (C).

She had felt bad for (C), and to cheer him up, she had bought him flowers. Then it occurred to her that she couldn’t very well buy (C) flowers and not get her own boyfriend flowers. So she grabbed some for (S). And THEN it occurred to her that she couldn’t get (C) and (S) flowers and not get some for me as well.

I was a third level afterthought in this scenario. The guys agreed with my analysis, but we never said anything to her. Now, every time I hear someone say ‘it’s the thought that counts’, I think of this and shake my head a little bit.