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When You Give A Pig A Pancake

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It was a classic novel opening: the sunshiny Saturday morning. Unfortunately, I wasn’t outside to enjoy the glorious first-of-spring weather. Neither were the five hundred other people stuck in this building, undergoing the weekly torture commonly known as Chinese school.

Class had just ended (thank the Lord) and Sarah, Morrissa, and I were ambling down the linoleum hallway. Their sunny expressions mirrored the golden warmth just outside our reach behind the blurry windows, while my Chapsticked lips were turned down in an extremely glamorous grimace.

I would have much preferred to go directly home, but since both of my parents were Chinese school teachers, they had been delayed in a staff meeting and my sugar-crazed friends had dragged me on another one of their weekly vending machine excursions.

“Puh-wease, Crystal? Please please please please?” Sarah begged, her lower lip sticking out. I groaned. Shiz-she’d given me the Bambi eyes. When You Give A Pig A Pancake was basically the story of my life, and like the stringy-haired heroine, I would definitely regret this too.

“Why do I have to come with you guys? I don’t even like Skittles, dang it,” I mumbled, glaring at the fuzzy poo-colored carpet covering the floor of our Chinese classroom as we packed up. The teacher had rushed out the nanosecond the bell clanged, probably to get away from us.

“You’re coming with us because I’m going to collapse if I have to wait another minute for candy, and that snack machine is freaking notorious for getting stuck. We’re going to need three people to shake the machine,” Sarah informed me with a smirk, combing a hand through her shiny black hair.

“Did you know that fifteen people have died or been seriously injured by falling vending machines every year?” Morrissa commented randomly, bouncing ahead as the snack machine came into sight.

My eyes went buggy like a mosquito’s. “I’m turning around now.”

Sarah grabbed my arm and yanked me over to where Morrissa was feeding her dollar into the machine. I looked up and gulped. Had the machine always been this . . . tall?

“Oh my God! It ate my dollar!” Morrissa pounded at the machine. Her Skittles were poised over the edge of the A4 compartment but apparently refused to descend into the dark unknowns of the stomach.

Sarah joined her in whacking the machine while I shrank back against the wall Several adults herding toddlers out of the adjacent classrooms were giving us strange looks.

I resisted the urge to whistle “oblivious passerby” style and instead turned away to examine the art display cases. So they’re making casts of body parts again, yes? Fascinating. What? Oh, no, I don’t know those crazy people banging on the snack machine! What gave you that idea? Ah, because now they’re shouting for me to help them.

Wonderful.

If I helped them, they would finally stop yapping about their unquenchable need for sugary confections. And I could go home and watch some mind-numbing TV with the love of my life: Häagen-Dazs. And yes, I see the irony there.

If I went on ignoring them, chances were that the Skittles would stay put, and they would resort to hacking at the bolts of the vending machine with screwdrivers. And throwing the tools into my hands when the police arrived.

I dragged my feet the necessary five feet over the machine and their flailing fists.

“If the machine falls on me and I end up in the ER, you guys owe me a year of homework,” I muttered. “Hmm. Maybe two.”

“We could ask someone for money to try again,” Sarah suggested, scowling at the offending machine as she gave the plastic a vicious kick.

“Who’s going to give us-” I objected.

“Hey, do you need money or something? Machine giving you trouble?” We whirled around to see an older girl with highlighted hair to her shoulders, a dollar bill in her outstretched hand.

What do you know.

Morrissa grabbed it as Sarah babbled something unintelligible in gratitude.

We-no, they, I couldn’t care less about the danged Skittles-waited with bated breath as the tiny red bag that was life or death to them slowly fell over the edge . . .

Dragging another with it.

“That was unexpected,” I said finally, breaking the silence that had followed.

Sarah and Morrissa threw the second pack at their savior, and ran away shrieking like seagulls that just stumbled on a lobster carcass. I suppressed a flood of laughter.

“Thanks,” I muttered, throwing Savior Girl a smile. “They’re my friends and all, but they were driving me insane. And no way in hell was I going to help them . . . did you know that fifteen people die or are seriously injured by falling vending machines every year?”

Blank stare from Savior Girl.

“I’ll be going now,” I mumbled, turning on my Conversed feet.

I would never be able to look a vending machine in the face ever again without cracking up, that was for sure.





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