I really loved my 10th grade writing class. One assignment was to write a “Personal Narrative” essay. The result is what you read here. The below essay I wrote in high school has been a favorite story of mine for a long time now. It is a story going back to my youth and tells of a crucial turning point in my life as a result of a fateful lunchtime meeting …
Well, no not really…
What it actually is: it’s a recounting of something seemingly insignificant that happened long ago that maybe, just maybe, helped shape who I am today.
And at the same time answers the age-old question: Which Hostess pie is better: The Lemon…or The Blueberry?
The Lemon …or the Blueberry?
When I was young (eight years old, thank you very much) I wasn’t leading what you’d call an exciting life
At least from the perspective of an eight year old.
I was a latch key kid, both of my parents worked; and so after school I was to come home immediately “to make sure the house was okay” (later I realized it was a ruse to make sure I got home as soon as possible) and I was to stay home “to make sure no burglars came” (which I later realized was also a ruse, this one to make sure I stayed home safe and sound). This also meant ..no going out to play beyond the borders of my own yard.
Sufficed to say, I blamed my lack of having friends on my parents restricting my life so much. In reality, I was just a very shy and awkward little boy. Most of my afternoons were spent playing inside the house with my stuffed animals (who all had their own voices and personalities by the way). We, my stuffed animals and I, mostly played board games (I didn’t win often by the way as my stuffed monkey Dudley seemed to always win, that sneaky and conniving little cheater)
Such were the days of my “dark and dreary youth”.
However, there was one bright spot in my life…
One shining light. One amazing piece of heaven. Something to live for.
And that was the Hostess Lemon Pies.
My Hostess Lemon Pies.
You see, my mom would every-so-often pack in my lunch a most delicious confection … the Hostess Lemon Pie. Mmmmmm…Just thinking about it now. The sweet sweet sugar. The crumbly texture of the crust and then the oh so sweet and tangy lemon filling. Heaven, I say. Pure heaven.
I could be having the worst day … nay, the worst week. But seeing that Hostess Lemon Pie in my lunch … oh yes, life was good. Those were the days to live, to run, to jump and scream “HIP HIP HOORAY!!”
Such was the impact on my life of the Hostess Lemon Pie. It was just that delicious.
And then there was that fateful day…
It just so happened that this day started out amazing. You see, I had taken a sneaky peek at my mom packing my lunch and today was a Hostess Lemon Pie day! WOO WOO WOO! YES YES! A Hostess Lemon Pie Day!
So the rest of that morning at school, I was feeling a bit ornery. I was anxious. Anxious for lunch. Anxious for my yummy Hostess Lemon pie. I remember sitting at my desk, distracted, doodling and not doing much of anything. Just waiting for lunch. Come on, Clock! Come on, Clock!
And then finally. FINALLY! The lunch bell rang and we were set free! I quickly grabbed my lunch and ran out to my special lunch time area – a log on the end of the soccer field. I sat myself down and opened my lunch bag: a cheese sandwich, some carrots, an apple, and … OH YES! DING DING! My Hostess Lemon Pie! I literally felt my heart sing!
I gently laid the pie aside as it was something to not be rushed into, but to be cherished. What a great day this was going to be!
I turned back to the sandwich and was about to open it when-
Snot-nosed Derek, to be more accurate. And he was coming my way.
Somehow Snot-nosed Derek had happened upon my special lunch time area.
“Hi.” he said again.
Why is Derek bothering me? Can’t he see I was about to partake of my lunch, with which the ending was to be the delicious savoring of the sweet heavenly Hostess Lemon Pie?
“Hi….” I mumbled back.
“Whatcha got for lunch?”
“Ummm…just some stuff.. Sandwich, carrots, a pie..” (loosely translated: “Go away.”)
“Umm. Yeah.” (loosely translated: “I said…GO AWAY!”)
I stopped halfway through unwrapping my sandwich. Just stopped. And smiled.
(loosely translated: “heh heh heh”)
At this point, I need to interject. Besides playing board games with my stuffed animals for whom I had given voices and personalities to, besides enjoying the fabulous concoctions that were my Hostess Lemon Pies, I had another bright spot in my “dark and dreary youth”: I was a lunch trader. I LOVED trading. I’m not sure if it was the having, or the getting. Or who knows what. I just found it simply exhilarating.
“We could maybe trade.” I replied. “Though I like my lunch. I got a great cheese sandwich and a yummy apple. What do you have to trade?”
Derek took a look in his lunch bag.
“Hmmm… let’s see what I have. I have a ham sandwich”
“I have some celery and peanut butter”
“And a Hostess Pie.”
Wait wait wait… What? A Hostess Pie is in the mix?! Game on, Derek. Game On.
“Hey Derek. That pie sounds interesting. We could trade for that maybe.”
No sooner had I spoken those words than did Derek reach into his bag and pull it out. A pie. A Hostess Pie. Glorious! But wait a minute, something was wrong.
A Hostess… Blueberry Pie.
Ugh. Blueberry. Yuck.
I turned back towards my sandwich. Snot-nosed Derek surely noticed my interest drop. He whined his next line more than said it.
“Look. I got a Hostess Blueberry Pie. Wanna trade?”
“No…” I mumbled back
“Really? These are really good.”
“No way. I have a Hostess Lemon Pie. And they’re the best.”
Snot-nosed Derek turned to look at my Hostess Lemon Pie.
“Blueberry pies are really good too.” he ventured forth.
“No way Derek. Hostess Lemon pies are better. They’re the best.”
“Have you even tried blueberry before?” he asked.
I was about to mumble something back to him when I stopped. I frowned.
“Ummm. No. I’ve never had blueberry.”
Derek smiled at me
“But that’s because they are yucky.” I quickly remarked back. “Who would want a Hostess Blueberry Pie when you could have lemon?” I was quite proud of myself for righting my ship.
But Derek had smelled blood. He looked at me and smiled.
“Well, you’re wrong. Not only are blueberry pies good, they are BETTER than lemon pies.”
Oh no. No wait. What? Hostess Blueberry Pies are better? That can’t be. Can it?
“Yeah. And guess what? I don’t think I even want to trade my blueberry pie.”
Derek..Wait. No Wait! Can something REALLY be better than a lemon pie? Is that even possible? And if so, is it this wondrous Hostess Blueberry Pie?
My heart was beating. My breath was quick and heavy. What to do? WHAT TO DO?! I looked at my lemon pie. My trusty lemon pie. And then I glanced at his Hostess Blueberry Pie. I wondered of its colorful blue wrapper in which was encased.. something EVEN BETTER?
Derek stood up to walk away. Oh no!
I looked at him. He smiled at me.
“What about we trade pies?”
Did I really just say that?
I must have, because then and there Derek grunted what must have been a “Yes!” as he quickly grabbed his Hostess Lemon Pie and dumped my Hostess Blueberry Pie next to me and ran off.
I sat there. Stunned. My Hostess Lemon Pie, gone. A blueberry pie in its place amongst my other lunchtime edibles. I felt like crying. What had I done? But as I sat there, the blueberry pie stared back at me. This curious thing: this Hostess Blueberry Pie. Looking at me anxiously.
I don’t know how long I sat there. It must have felt like one hundred lunchtimes. But eventually, yes, I made a move. I picked up the Hostess Blueberry Pie. Well, I asked for it. Might as well get on with it then, right?
And hey, what if blueberry really was better than a Hostess Lemon Pie?
What if this Hostess Blueberry Pie made my heart fly and my spirit sing?
These thoughts excited me. I looked down again and smiled as I opened the wrapper. There looking back at me was the familiar Hostess Pie sugary crust. This excited me even more. Alright!
I opened my mouth, and took a bite…
And WOW! Can you believe it?
It was DISGUSTING!!
AGK! YUCK! BLECH! PITOOOEY!
I spit out the pie. But evidently not fast enough because the yucky disgusting blueberry taste was burned into my tongue. Probably forever. YUCK!
The rest of my lunchtime I sulked (SNOT-NOSED DEREK! I HATE YOU!). I had lost my appetite. And then the rest of my lunchtime turned into the rest of my day. I sulked. Trying to figure out how to get the blueberry taste out of my mouth. Trying to figure out when the next Hostess Lemon Pie might be in my lunch (probably days, maybe even weeks). Trying to figure out how to get Derek back.
Flash forward to today…
When given this assignment to write a “Personal Narrative”, I had no idea what I was going to write about. What did you mean by an event that happened to me in my childhood that shaped who I am today? Does that ever really happen? I mean, to regular people? Surely, that was for great men and women. Presidents. Supreme Court Justices. Lives that have been shaped for the better and now have significant impact on our world.
But I sat and thought anyway, on something to write about, and somehow this little insignificant event popped into my head. This little lunch drama that happened to me in the third grade.
I laughed as I re-told the story to myself. (You will be happy to know, I eventually recovered from what must have been a dark and trying time in my already “dark and dreary youth”)
But as I gave it more thought, something interesting happened. Maybe it wasn’t that insignificant? I realize at the very least, I found out that I hated Hostess Blueberry Pies. (You may also be happy to know I have since softened my stance against Hostess Blueberry Pies).
Giving it more thought, well, who knows? Maybe it did shape my personality. Maybe that’s why I am open-minded. Maybe that’s why I am an easy sell for just about anything. Maybe that’s why I am a bit adventurous.
Maybe that’s how I found there are quite a lot of things I do not like. And along the way, maybe that’s how I found there are a lot of things THAT I LOVE.
So who would have thought it? So maybe it wasn’t that insignificant? So maybe Snot-nosed Derek played a part in shaping my life?
But I won’t go so far as to thank you for it Snot-nosed Derek.
At least not until you let me trade you back for a Hostess Lemon Pie.