The last day of the school year is filled with a series of endings: the last set of papers you grade, the last lecture you give to your students, the last time you erase the board, the last pill you take for your nerves . . . But while this ending is bittersweet, heavy emphasis on the sweet, you have to clear those few remaining hurdles before you can dash out the door like a streaker with the paparazzi behind you.
I stood by the counter with fifteen freshmen huddled in pairs as they reviewed old tests for their exam. I had a spatula in hand as I fried donuts to spur them on to academic greatness. With each new batch that rolled out of the fryer and into the mountain of powdered sugar that awaited them, expectant eyes turned my way as I walked around extending sugar rings to lords and ladies alike. Unlike a previous period in which students were still full from breakfast, this group was still an hour and a half from lunch and ready to do battle over saturated fats. I had enough to give each student two donuts with a couple of extras. Thank goodness for the extras because right as I was pulling batch three out of the oil, I dropped one.
“Oh no,” I said softly, as the pastry rolled a few feet away with the skill of a Michelin. Five boys swiveled their heads in my direction, and when they saw that lone golden disk lying on the tile, a prison riot broke out.
“I saw it first!”
“I’ve got it!”
Bodies that weigh a considerable amount more than mine were charging around the room as the Great Donut Scramble of 2013 began. After more pouncing than a safari tourist would see in the Serengeti, one fellow came out of the mix with it, and even though it must have been searing the fingerprints off of his digits, he refused to relinquish his prize. Others stood dancing from one foot to another, praying for a fumble so a new possession could occur.
“Stop!” I commanded firmly, as I saw that naked donut heading toward a gaping mouth. “You are not going to eat a donut that fell on the floor.”
“Five second rule, Ms. Carver.”
“Nice try, but no. I’m the only one allowed to eat stuff off the floor. You haven’t lived in Southeast Asia, so you don’t have my antibodies.”
“It’ll be ok.” And here he started blowing on it like a kid with a bubble wand, in an effort to dislodge any clinging micro organisms that could make his biology class come to life.
“I want you to lower that donut slowly and back away from the group.” His eyes told me I had a runner on my hands, so I took a step toward him. “Walk this way.” He sighed and followed me over to the garbage can, where I forced him to deposit his treasure. A collective wail rose up from the rest of the fellows, and they gathered around the plastic disposal bin like mourners around a graveside.
After allowing them a moment of silence, I fanned them back to their desks so they could review which characters met an untimely end in Romeo and Juliet. Thank goodness we no longer allow children to carry daggers in the 21st century, or I might have had my own Shakespearean tragedy on my hands.
© 2013 – Traci Carver