In a world where playdough is an essential part of one’s diet and snot is worn in pride; pineapple is a delicacy. I had been five years old when I fell madly in love with the fruit. I watched my friends choke down spoonfuls of applesauce and fistfuls of pretzels, feeling as though I became a part of a whole new world. I, of course, was extremely mature compared to those babies- I mean, how many toddlers eat pineapple? The answer: not many. And I had accounted for majority in that category.
Snack time was a blessing and a curse for a young, growing toddler. It was extremely important for one to have a snack. If not, the next step led to accepting the increased risks of starving to death. Occasionally, Mrs. Jones would hand out pretzels to help anyone battling whale stomach syndrome to make it through the long, grueling day, but I preferred my beloved pineapple.
I knew exactly which aisle my true love awaited for me in at the grocery store. Upon each trip to the store, I would always reassure Mom the location of my knight in that shining cylinder. Mom would always go past the aisle a few times before actually going through it. I craned my neck to peer in each time, on the lookout for any pineapple burglars.
“Mom, MOM!” It usually took a few tries to snap her out of her supermarket trace.
“What is it honey?”
“Mom that old nana is taking all my pineapple,” I used my handy index finger to single the culprit out.
Instead of stopping her, Mom slapped my arm and scolded me for pointing and assuming such a thing. As consequence for my actions, we did not stop for pineapple. And as consequence for Mom, I pouted and screamed for the whole night.
The next day I had to bring in lousy pretzels. What a downgrade to my ego that was. I couldn’t believe Mom for punishing me for trying to help stop a thief. I sat and ate my pretzels in the corner and vowed to soon trade these sticks of hard bread for my sweet, delectable pineapple. I watched snowflakes pitter from the sky and realized pretzels weren’t going to be my only problem for the day.
It took three days and three grueling journeys through the snow to be rewarded by a fresh stack of Dole cans lining the kitchen counter. Tell you what, those three days were the longest of my life.
And with that, I returned back to my normal, pineapple crazed self. Mom had even packed me a whole can for snack, warning me to not eat it all too fast or a stomach ache was predicted to occur in my future. I swear she’s like some kind of psychic sometimes.
But before I could even take a lick of my golden goodness, Mrs. Jones pried the can from my grasp.
“Hey! Those are mine! Give them back!” I reached and jumped but Mrs. Jones suddenly grew to the size of the Jolly Green Giant. She looked down at me and gave me a sour smile.
“Maya, you cannot have a can because it has sharp edges that could give you a bad cut.” I felt a bubble burst inside of me. Why was this woman stealing my prized pineapples?
“THEY ARE MINE.” I grew livid at this old- nana- pineapple- stealing- bandit and I became willing to do whatever it took to get my pineapple back.
“GIVE THEM BACK.” I scratched her and clawed. This lady was the only thing standing between me and my precious fruit.
“Maya,” She cooed, “Maya please calm down you are getting out of hand.”
I gave up and let it all rip. I screamed, so loud, half of the kids in the class must have gone deaf. I felt arms latch onto my shoulders and began to slowly drag away from the class, further and further away from my pineapple. Tears blurred my eyes and I watched as Mrs. Jones smirk and laugh evilly as she towered over my can of gold. I screamed until I heard a door close and I sat in another room.
I had been forced to sit in that awfully small room until I calmed down. How was I supposed to do such a thing when for all I knew the love of my life sat in the hands of a criminal? Book shelves filled every inch of the crowded room, swarming with at least a gazillion books. A desk sat wedged in the corner piled high with mountains of paperwork that sprawled across. Fluorescent lights beamed an unnatural white on me and it didn’t take long before I got swept away by a tsunami of claustrophobia. After a few more tantrums, I jumped at the opportunity to rejoin the class; the only catch was no pineapple.
I choked down my screams and swallowed my fury. When I had walked back in the room, I could have burned from the heat of the twenty sets of eyes gaping at my existence. I was so desperate in finding my fruit, I ran to the trash and shoved my arm down its throat. I dug and ripped my way through empty applesauce containers and abandoned cheese stick wrappers. I didn’t mind touching soggy graham crackers or half eaten apples- as long as I found my pineapples, I was a happy camper. The teacher, not too happy about this idea, hauled me away again; and this time, I was threatened with the chance of having my mom called. I debated my choices in my mature mind and settled on cooling down. One call to Mom would mean no pineapple forever- there was no chance I would let a fit stop me from reuniting my tastebuds with my glorious fruit once again.
Mrs. Jones made me wash my hands and sing the ABC’s three times before diagnosing me as “cootie- free.” I could have washed my hands a trillion times, but I would still be appalled by Mrs. Jones.
She came around with that putrid barrel of pretzels but I put my head deep into the crease of my elbow before she could ask if I wanted a scoop. My stomach growled extra loud for the rest of the day.
I kept tally of the number of days I had been separated from my glorious delicacy and kept my eyes peeled for any sign of pineapple. I even managed to convince Penelope to give me some out of her pink, Cinderella shaped tupperware container on tally number four when I noticed her mom had packed her some. I don’t know if I would have survived if it hadn’t been for her mom, but I knew one thing for sure- I needed my pineapple back- and fast.
As I longed for another piece, I thought of all the ways to get back my pineapple. Maybe I could ask James, the fastest of the class, to run around the room while Mrs. Jones wrote on the whiteboard; or I could build a trap out of legos that would lock her up until I found them. At recess, I no longer played dolls and ‘duck, duck, goose,’ I focused on more sophisticated matters. I became a spy and crept around the room in hopes of finding my hidden treasures. I even carried a notepad to blend in and take on my new role. Mrs. Jones occasionally questioned what I had been up to. Thankfully, I as a spy, knew better.
“Just obscuring and drawing different things around the room,” I would reply with a sly smile.
She laughed, “You mean obSERVing? Be careful, I wouldn’t want you to lose an ear like van Gogh!”
I searched everywhere and it didn’t take long until I lost hope for my fruit. It was like Mrs. Jones put a spell on them so I couldn’t see them anymore. I would run my hand across every empty nook and cranny in order to prove this theory wrong. I concluded the only way to solve my problems was to fight fire with fire- with, of course, some help. I recruited James and Penny to be a part of my retaliation. With James’s speed and Penny’s supply of pineapple, we were unstoppable.
The plan was simple: swipe the scissors off her desk as punishment for her crimes. I watched as Mrs. Jones bent down to tie Penny’s shoe, gave the nod, and the plan was in action. James ran over to the desk and sprinted back to the table, passing the scissors to me, and I stashed them in my pocket. Just before Mrs. J stood upright, I signalled to Penny for more time. She furrowed her eyebrows and complained to Mrs. Jones it was too tight. This time, I ran to the desk and shoved her apple next to the scissors; in my mind, this was the perfect solution. If I had to eat dumb pretzels, she too would suffer with me. With a smile, I scurried back over to my seat and sat down triumphantly.
It didn’t take long for Mrs. Jones to notice something was missing. After all, the next day we made paper snowflakes. I giggled watching her scramble to find the pair of scissors as I patted the pair in my pocket. It only took days before we devised another plan to take more from that old- nana- pineapple- stealing- bandit. This time, Penny and I took her purple pen and frog eraser top while James explained at length why green apples tasted better than red to the culprit. The time after that, we swiped her empty cafeteria water bottle- good luck staying hydrated now!
A couple weeks went by after our extravagant missions and soon Santa would be coming to town. The more I thought about it, the more I thought about which list I was going to end up on this year. Would I be on the naughty list for eating Mrs. Jones’s apple in pride and cutting my snowflakes using her precious scissors? Or because for each mission conducted, I had been the felon? I didn’t want to find out.
At recess, only days before Santa’s grand arrival, Penelope, James, and I devised another plan to restore our places on the nice list. I couldn’t bare to leave my pineapple behind in the process, but I crossed my fingers Santa and his elves would bring me more than I could count. While Mrs. Jones handed out gifts to the class- green and red ornaments with our names scrawled across in ginormous letters, all three of us ran to the desk to put all of our stolen treasures back to where they belonged. I took care of the scissors- the first goodie we had snagged. Sitting back down in my seat, I scowled at our failed missions. I accepted the cheesy ornament with disappointment and plastered a puss to my face where it stayed for the remainder of the day.
It stayed that way when snack time came along and I, yet again, pulled out my bland pieces of twigs from my lunchbox. My face shriveled in disgust at the sight of them. I pushed the baggie as far as possible from me and observed what others had brought along. I thought of the reason I had been so disdained towards eating pretzels. I wondered of the last time I had tried one. As I took a bite of curiosity out of the rod and swallowed, I realized the difference between pineapple and pretzels; one tasted of sweet victory and the other of bitter defeat.