Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Missing Lunch Money (Part II)

    This is a continuation from yesterday's post.  If you haven't read that, and would like to, click HERE.    

    The Hippie tapped the table and then told her story.  "A few weeks ago, Brian started selling mints at lunch.  He's so cute, like the guy on "Tangled," AND he only charged a dollar for each mint."
    I held my shock tightly inside.  "Really."  What a ripoff!  "What kind of mints?" I became sweet like the Virgin Mary that time she batted her lashes at Joseph--Don't ask me for a verse and chapter; I'm sure it's in there somewhere!
    "Promise not to be mad?" The Hippie asked.
    "Ummm . . . I . . . guess I can promise."  If I became the actress of the century.
    "They were Altoids--the kind rich people buy."  She sat even straighter as if that knowledge made her a queen.  
    "So," her little voice continued, "since you give me a dollar and a quarter each day for lunch, I started buying a mint every day, and then on Fridays I could buy two."
    How awfully interesting!  I felt the need to call Brian and inform him that in some religions, financial scheming isn't allowed!  But I didn't say any of that to The Hippie, and instead I asked, "What about lunch?"
    "When you weren't looking, I would grab a bag of cereal at exactly 6:15.  That's when The Scribe plans all her crazy stuff too.  We know you're on the computer, busy with the dog, feeding the babies, and you don't notice when things go missing."
    The Scribe would be interrogated later.  "And why are you telling me this?" 
    "Because I won't do it ever again."
    "Why?" I asked.
    "The school called you and that made me realize how right the pastor was at church.  God sees everything, even more than a big, ugly, cyclops."  
    What a lovely comparison; the kid might be a writer.
    "Anyway, everything went great with the mints, until we ran out of cereal . . . you made us eggs instead, but I didn't want to put those in a baggie.  I told you to buy cereal, but you DIDN'T."
    Cry me a river.
    "I got really hungry at lunchtime, so I used my allowance and bought two mints instead of the normal 'one.'  Brian said I could pay him later.  But one day I got so hungry, I ate a ton and owed Brian so much, I didn't think I could ever pay him back!  I ate all of those spicy mints.  It was terrible, like I'd lost everything just to have good breath and friends!"
    "O-kay, but there are a couple things I don't understand; for one, why did you keep buying the mints instead of lunch?"  Like she was supposed to. 
    The Hippie put her hands on her hips.  "Would you rather smell like a dog breath, or eat nasty spaghetti?"
    "Are those my only options?"
    "Rock hard meat loaf?"
    "Is that it?"
    "Brown salad?"
     Now she simply exaggerated.  "I could have bought you some of those mints," I said.
    "They're a lot of money."
    "I can afford them."
    "No way.  They're from Great Britain.  It says so on the box.  That's practically another planet."


    "Not really. I know bloggers from there."
    She dropped her fork.  Then after gaining her composure and her fork again, she said, "Seriously though, Mom.  I don't want to hurt your feelings, but even if you know bloggers . . . you still can't afford Island Barbie.  And she's only worth ten mints!  That means, if I can barely afford Altoids, then you really can't."
    Her words stung.  Plus, she knew the word "afford?"  And even as she killed me with her mockery, I couldn't stop thinking about how good she is at math, or how love blinds us all!
    "So, what happened?"
    "Well, things got really bad.  I didn't have enough money for lunch OR mints.  I had to pay Brian money I owed him from the week before.  I felt sad, alone . . . I guess that's when I noticed the handicapped kids at recess."
    Now things were really getting interesting.  It had gone from a swindling jerk, to a mint-loving damsel, to a bunch of kids at recess.
    "Continue," I said, more interested than I'd even been in "Glee."
    "I saw them playing, but then other kids--popular kids--were mean.  I have a bunch of friends and I couldn't believe how they acted.  Sure, I didn't have lunch, but they didn't even have friends.
    "It made me know how bad Brian treated them and me.  I stopped thinking about how cute he is and I saw how bad his heart must be--he needs to see a heart doctor!  Right then, I would have given all those mints back, just to help those kids . . . and-get-my-money-back.
    "So, today at recess, I stood up for those people.  I played with them.  Some of them seem really different; I told one girl about my mint problem, but she doesn't seem to know much about mints or money.  She talked really slow too, but I saw past all that.  Kids are kids.  God made us all, even if some people need new hearts and don't know about Great Britain.  So, we played.  
   "I told her stories.  She laughed at my jokes.  And by the end of the day, other kids said they won't buy mints from Brian either.  We're all off the mints and we're on to helping kids in need.  I told a teacher about it and he seemed really proud.  He even talked to another teacher about it too.
    "I guess that's why I'm surprised they called to tell you about me buying all those mints and owing Brian all that money."  She took a deep breath.  "Now the school's upset, and I'm poorer than you.  How can I ever get out of this mess?"
    Oh, can I tell you how badly I wanted to tell her the truth!  I'm not THAT poor and the school hadn't called about the mints.  They'd just called to tell me The Hippie was so helpful incorporating everyone at recess. 
    "Can you make me home lunch, and maybe I can bring my toothbrush to school?" she asked.  "I'm definitely off of Brian's mints."
    I wanted to laugh; the whole thing was so tragically cute.  We ate after that.  I told The Hippie how proud I was of her helping "kids in need."  I also explained about the cheapness of Altoids--which cost about a dollar a box.  
    At the end of our date, we bought THREE WHOLE BOXES of Altoids from the store.  The Hippie agreed to give two of them to Brian at school, and I agreed to start sending home-lunch for her.
   "Wow," the Hippie said, obviously glad to be out of debt.  We walked out of the store and she clutched the bag of mints.  "Can I even have a whole box of these for myself?"
    Her eyes gleamed and I saw a little bit of mischief there.  "You aren't going to sell them . . . Are you?" I asked.
    "Just for a quarter a piece?  I'd make a ton."
    I blinked TWICE.
    "Please," she continued. "Brian would lose all of his customers and they'd be happier for it."
    "No," I said sternly, but inside I laughed.  After all, The Hippie will make a great businesswoman someday and it's all thanks to some mints and a swindler named Brian.