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Gerit Quealy Headshot

Does the 5-Second Rule Apply to 5th Avenue?

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I hardly ever see the Treats Truck anymore. Not since the layoffs at my NYC midtown job in late '08. But prior to that, I was a regular visitor (in silver-lining mode, I suppose there was a calorie-saving upside to the job loss).

When I do spy the truck now though, the treat is even more special. The old-fashioned silver truck is chock full of delicious desserts like the ones your grandmother used to make. Which is why I'm particularly partial to the Caramel brownie (official name: pecan butterscotch bar).

So, there I was whizzing through midtown on my way south when I saw it. Screeching to halt and after a sharp u-turn (truthfully, not as dramatic as it sounds on a mini fold-up bike), I pulled up to the truck and bought my favorite treat.

And, in a moment of pure visionary foresight, I also got some sugar dots to tide me over until I could indulge in my dessert at my final destination. Oh, and a small cupcake in a mini ice cream cone (my friends frequently point out my penchant for "cute food.")

But, alas, the dots weren't enough to tide me over and I bit into the brownie somewhere around 31st Street and 5th Avenue. Just one bite. Then I tucked it back into its waxed paper in the open purse slung around my neck as I rode.

And then I heard it as I pedaled furiously past 28th Street -- a soft thud. Oh no. Oh god , no. I looked back -- there was the brownie, on the east side of 5th Avenue, two paces from a parked car.

Thoughts raced through my head: What will people think if I go back to pick it up? Will they know I'm going to eat it anyway? No, they'll just think I'm going to throw it away! Notheywon'tyestheywill. No one I know will see me do it. Yestheywill/notheywon't/you don't know for sure.

And most importantly: How long is too long? How many germs are on 5th Avenue? Oh, roughly as many as there are inhabitants, about 10 million (until the next census results anyway).

A strangled cry escaped my throat. Indecision plagued me as the seconds ticked by.

A thought! I could make my own Butterscotch Brownies at home, I reasoned. From my grandmother's recipe (here's the recipe):

Butterscotch Brownies
½ c. butter
2 c. brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
1 c. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 c. chopped nuts (optional)
Melt butter in saucepan. Stir in brown sugar. Remove from heat. Cool. Beat in eggs. Add vanilla. Sift together flour, baking powder, salt. Stir into sugar mixture. Add nuts (again, optional). Pour into greased pan. Bake for 30 minutes at 350°F.

Danger. I might eat the whole tray. In fact, Likelihood: High. So it would actually be a calorie savings if I picked up the one on the street. Not to mention more time- and cost-efficient. (Plus, they're not quite as good as the Treats Truck ones, I don't know why.)

And, one on the street was still partially covered with wax paper. I could cut off the "bad" bits! I moved toward it. I reached down, looking around furtively.

A loud buzzer went off, Errrrrrrrrrrrrp! In my head. "Your 5 seconds are up! AND, are you completely crazy?! You cannot have the brownie any more."

I turned the bike around and rode downtown.

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