23. Cookies

At my high school, there was never any violence or verbal abuse. Instead, the students settled grievances with cookies.

Instead of making wisecracks at students who were overweight, pimple-laden, or etc., you’d hand the victim a cookie. Instead of pushing or punching, packages of Chips Ahoy or Oreos were exchanged.

Cookie recipients were socially obligated to eat the cookies they received. That’s just how it worked. Nobody that I can remember actually refused to eat their cookies. It may have happened, but I never heard about it.

Pretty much everybody carried around a package or two of cookies just in case. Those who didn’t were often targeted by a wide array of students, as it was plain there would be no retaliation.

The general rule was that the higher the quality of cookie, the graver the import. As such, the rich kids were generally feared and loathed by the less fortunate students for their superior cookies.

Personally, I always tried to keep my head down and stay out of the cookie wars. For the most part, I was successful. Oh, sure, I got the occasional cookie. Who didn’t? I gave out my share of cookies, too. But up through junior year, I managed to keep a pretty low profile.

It couldn’t last, though. At the start of the year, I had a study hall in which I was seated next to Tiffany Harris, the most popular girl in the school. Of course, she was on the cheerleading squad. Of course, she was a totally shallow spoiled little brat.

One day she was sitting there, whispering to a neighbor. Right next to her as I was, I couldn’t help but overhear. She was talking all kinds of shit. I was having a bad day, and I lost my cool. I set a single-serving package of Nutter Butters on top of her books.

Boy, did that do it. I walked out of that study hall with no less than three packages of Oreos, a package of E.L. Fudge, and a box of some weird, expensive cookies I’d never heard of. They were from Italy. Needless to say, I was pretty sick by the time I’d gotten through them.

The next day was worse. Word had spread, of course, and the football team got involved. That night, I ate so many cookies that I threw up.

Fortunately, things died down pretty quickly after that second day. Except for one guy. Of course, it was the captain of the football team. Of course, he was Tiffany’s boyfriend. His name was Mike Michaels (I swear to god), and he took to giving me a box of Nilla Wafers every day. Which I’m sure you’ll understand is the equivalent of getting ball-tagged and wedgied. It sucked.

Three weeks it went on, and Mike showed no signs of letting it go. Three weeks with a box of Nilla Wafers a day. I knew I had to do something. I had to make a statement.

I got an advance (a big advance) on my allowance, and got the finest cookies I could get my hands on. I can’t remember what they were called. All I remember is that they came from France, hand-made at a famous bakery and shipped air freight, and they cost a hundred and fifty bucks for a dozen.

The day after they arrived, I took my morning box of Nilla Wafers from Mike without a flinch. At lunch time, I arranged my retaliatory French cookies nicely on a pewter plate I’d bought for the purpose, carried them to Mike’s table, and set them down in front of him.

Mike looked at the cookies, then looked at me. Then he looked back at the cookies. I’ll never forget the look on his face. It showed hatred and anger mixed with a grudging respect, with just a tinge of fear and awe. He didn’t look back at me again. His face reddened slightly as he picked up a cookie and carried it to his lips. I turned and walked out of the cafeteria.

It was awesome.

Needless to say, I didn’t get any more boxes of Nilla Wafers. In fact, I don’t think I had to eat another cookie for the rest of my high school career. In one fell swoop, I had become the school bad-ass. The exploit became legendary. I’m sure they still talk about it in the halls to this day. I admit that gives me a certain satisfaction.

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