Kelly is taking a well-deserved break from writing to focus on what’s really important: catching up on her Netflix selections. In the meantime, she has asked me to write a post so that you, her loyal fans, will have something to read while she is on her brief hiatus (definitely rent “Source Code,” Kelly!). Many of my memories hover around food (not sure why that is), so I thought I would write about that. Here goes.
That Time We Sold Donuts
When I was in eighth grade, my school had a fundraiser: we were forced to sell donuts. There was no choice in the matter, except did you want to go door-to-door before school or after, too? The teachers handed every student an order form and told us we were each required to sell 100 boxes. I think this must be how it works in countries with no child-labor laws (“Come on Nirupa, sew faster! You need to finish 100 rugs by next Tuesday or you get no food!”). Except in our case, we were not told what the negative consequence would be.
As an adult looking back, I can see now that this fundraising effort was very, very flawed. We had to take pre-orders for the donuts. We had to capture funds before we even produced a product. People might not be home for drop off. The overpriced glazed donuts were frozen, not fresh, and could melt in the hot Alabama sun. Teenagers were involved.
Yeah, nothing could go wrong.
My best friend, Charlene, and I decided to go after school that day to sell the donuts. We wanted to get it over with, and we were also concerned that other students in our same neighborhood would get to the houses before us and we’d lose our potential sales.
The first house we came to, no one answered the door. The second house, no one answered the door. This pattern repeated itself for the next 20 houses. Finally someone answered the door, and Charlene launched into her rehearsed spiel. The woman cut her off, saying, “Donuts? I’m diabetic,” before abruptly shutting the door.
Charlene and I realized we were going to have to double-down if we were going to make our quota of 200 boxes. At the next house, an elderly man answered. Charlene nudged my elbow, indicating that it was my turn to sell. “Hello, Sir!” I squealed nervously, surprised that someone was finally answering the door, “We live at Lincoln Junior High and we are taking money for donuts! How many donuts can you eat?” He felt sorry for us and wrote a check for five boxes. Then he craned his neck past us looking at something. “Do you have a wagon or something behind you? Where are the donuts?” He stood staring at me and Charlene, expectantly.
Charlene said, “No, sir, remember she said we will deliver the donuts in three weeks? You don’t get your donuts now. You just pay for them now.” Then she gave her best fake smile, a smile that said, “Duh, turn up your hearing aid.”
The fake smile must’ve irritated him. He grabbed the check back out of my hand and ripped it up. “Wait for donuts? What kind of scam is this?” He attempted to slam the door in our faces, but just then a ferret ran out and he hobbled after it. “Catch Doris!” he cried.
Charlene chased that ferret as if she was on Animal Control’s payroll. This man who had been so mean to us mere moments before was going to see what a helpful person Charlene really was, and how selfless she could be, and what a big mistake he’d made by ripping up that check. The ferret immediately ran up a tall tree and Charlene began to climb.
I felt like an extra in a very bad movie, a movie about stereotypical things like old men who won’t pay for donuts, ferrets in trees, and an overzealous teenager trying to prove a point.
Of course this was the moment that Kent Richenberg walked by. Kent was captain of the baseball team, on the student council, and sat two rows ahead of me in American History class. He was funny, popular, gorgeous, and had absolutely no idea who I was.
“Hey, MOV, why is your friend in my grandpa’s tree?”
Just then, Charlene caught the ferret. I had never before seen a ferret, heard of a ferret, or even known they existed. It looked like a cross between a very ugly squirrel and a raccoon. I was terrified of that scrawny creature. Charlene shimmied down the tree, her arm covered in scratches. She held the ferret triumphantly by the scruff of its neck.
“Thank you, thank you, thank you!” enthused Kent on behalf of his semi-deaf grandpa. “Gramps loves that ferret!”
This would have been enough right here, to end the story with Charlene rescuing the ferret and maybe Gramps buying the five boxes of donuts after all. But more things happened. Things involving sharp teeth, a trip to the emergency room, rabies shots, five stitches, multiple bandages, permanent scars, and pain killers. When Charlene held the ferret out for me to see, it sprang out of her grasp and landed on my arm, taking a good chunk of my flesh off with its jagged razor teeth. I screamed and fainted.
The next thing I remember, Kent, Charlene, Gramps, and a few random neighbors who’d been hiding in their houses avoiding buying donuts, were standing over me. Kent, never to my knowledge religious, was praying. Gramps was crying. Charlene had a panicked look on her sweaty face. I could hear sirens down the block. The ambulance arrived and I glanced down at my formerly white t-shirt and noticed I was blanketed in blood.
And that, my friends, is how I got out of selling donuts door-to-door. (To this day, I avoid donuts. And fundraisers.)