Chocolate Cupcakes: How a Nerd Infiltrated the “In” Crowd

The Secret to  Lunch Happiness Lies Within

The Secret to Lunch Happiness Lies Within

Yesterday was an emotionally charged day. My post about M’s interactions with mean girls spurred a lot of debate. After reading through hundreds of comments I sat down and thought about the memories I have of my very own mean girls.

One may assume that the most popular girls in school would also be the meanest. After all, they had no competition they were “it”—the in crowd. But, that is not necessarily true. In fact, I learned one year that the most popular group of girls in my school, despite being aloof, were actually quite kind and generous…at least to each other.

You will recall from my last post that I often sat alone at the lunch table. My goal was to hide from Rhonda and Linda: two of the cruelest people I have met to date. For months I watched longingly as the most popular group of five girls would walk into the cafeteria and take their customary spots. In their routine, some facts emerged as absolute.

1. They always filed into their seats in the exact same order: Kristen, Christine R., Sondra, Laura, and Lori.
2. They always brought a brown bag lunch–never bought.
3. They had a daily lunch ritual.

It took me months to figure it out but the moment that I did changed my life.

Just before lunch ended, the girls would each open their dessert. Kristen would start. She broke her candy bar into five astonishingly similar pieces and passed a piece to Christine who did not eat it. She passed it to Sondra. And on down the line until each girl had a piece of the candy bar. Then Christine divided her dessert and passed it down. Then Sondra and so on. This ritual happened daily and wordlessly. Every day, just a few minutes before the bell, they would all look down at their napkins and see exactly five miniature dessert offerings which they promptly scarfed down.

It was amazing. First, all five ALWAYS had a dessert item. Second, they ALWAYS shared it. And lastly, every one of them ate EVERY morsel–not one ever said “no, thanks,” or “I don’t like chocolate.” They ate what was passed to them.

Finally, after months of preparation, my moment arrived. I had managed to sneak a box of Hostess Chocolate Cupcakes into our grocery cart that week. While my mother was busy putting everything away, I hid the box in my room. On “The Day,” I packed my own lunch into a brown grocery bag I had cut and taped to look less like a book cover and more like a “brown bag”. Carefully, I placed the package of two chocolate frosted cupcakes and a plastic knife into the bag.

What Is It About This Thing?

What Is It About This Thing?

All morning my heart pounded. That lunch period, instead of shuffling my way to the empty table in the back, I sat at “their” table. As predicted The Five arrived carrying their 5 identical bags. As expected, Kristen was first. As she slid down the bench, she eyed me. I knew I was in her seat. I gulped. Much to my surprise, she just plopped down and began unwrapping her perfectly packed lunch. Sandwich, fruit, and carrots devoured, I knew what was coming. As she began careful division of her candy, I did the same. My ceremonial unwrapping and careful cutting of the cupcake into SIX equal pieces caught her attention.

Without looking up, I passed a piece to my right. She paused for a split second and took it from me. Then she did the remarkable thing.

She passed it on.

Within a few minutes, The Five had a piece of my cupcake and I had a six pieced dessert sampling.

They must have really liked chocolate cupcakes because no words were ever uttered about my presence at their table. Every day, for the rest of that school year, they quietly divided their goods SIX ways.

After a while, they would wave at me in the hall or smile on the bus. Don’t get me wrong, I was never invited to a sleep over or to the mall, but they allowed me to sit at their table and give them my cupcakes.

Boy, did that feel good.

Those girls were popular but in the end, they were NOT mean. Their crazy sharing thing was actually kind of sweet. The cafeteria became a Green Zone. As long as I was sitting with The Five, Rhonda and Linda kept on walking.

Who would have thought that the sins of wrong hair, shoes, and too much brain power could be absolved by 1/6 of a cupcake?

Looking back, while having 35 minutes every day free of my abusers was priceless, the lessons I learned carried me long after.

First, beaten down as I felt, I did have something of value to bring to the table—and it was not just a cupcake. But, more importantly for me, I learned that sometimes the easiest way to get what you want is to simply go get it.


  1. Thanks, Christine,
    I’m not sure where this fits but glad to have the image in my memory. For some reason, it makes me feel good

  2. Lorraine Robertson says:

    Good Morning Christine, I absolutely loved your story. I know the characters & ages are different, but I was wondering if you could give me some wonderful words of wisdom for my Kaitlyn. You kow the predicament of our family situation. Kaitlyn has been so sad & I mean sad. Everyone keeps asking me why is she so sad all the time. She used to be so bouncy, laughing & oh my what a talker. Now, I can’t get her to say a word. All because her mean person (her dad) walked out & appears to want nothing more to do with her. His new girlfriend means more to her than his own son & daughter and when I ask him to do things with her, he cops an attitude & comes off onto them. Anything I can do (besides her seeing her counselor more frequently) that can bring my little girls smile back where she can light up the room again?

  3. This reminds me of my son B. who is a twin with Asberger’s and we were talking about his first day of high school, it would be his first time not having his twin brother by his side and he was overwhelmed by the idea that he would have to get through lunch without his life long partner in crime. He made me so proud when he got home from school that day and I asked how it went and he said he just saw a group of guys sitting together and he thought to himself “what have I got to lose?” And he walked right over and asked if they had room and sat down before they could really answer. It turned out to be a group of seniors who couldn’t have been nicer to my awkward freshman boy and they welcomed him everyday after. I could only imagine the butterflies that must have been in his stomach but thanks to your writing I can imagine it even better! I think both you and my son were incredibly brave, high school is a bitch! Bravo to you and good luck to your daughter, she sounds like a pretty amazing girl to me and it’s pretty clear why!

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