“Chocolate Chip or Oatmeal Raisin?”
The question caught Ginger off guard. She scratched at her pale, moonlit locks and fiddled with one of the cracked, colored buttons on her dress.
“I’m… I’m not sure I understand the question, miss. May I just have some food, please? I’m ever so hungry.”
The old bat shook her head, or appeared to. Her roundness precluded any obvious gestures. It was a wonder she could still write.
“You have to choose one or the other… Ginger, was it? By the by, is that short for ‘Ginger Snap’ or ‘Ginger Bread’?”
“Very well. Now, miss Bread, it’s all very simple. To prevent arguments, spats and bi-partisanship, we categorize all newcomers by preference for either the Chocolate Chip Congress or the Oatmeal Raisin Republic and seat them separately. Since we can’t seat you in both–in one piece–I recommend you choose one.”
A bit of spice-drop broke off in Ginger’s hand. She rolled it between her thumb and palm, concentrating on the sticky, inner-surface.
“But I don’t have a preference!”
The bat shook within its sugary frame as smug condescension gave way to indignant rage.
“By the baker! What kind of flour were you made with? All-Purpose? Look, Ginger, everyone has a preference. Everyone. Whether you are, yourself, a ginger cookie, a sugar cookie, chocolate chip, oatmeal, shortbread or meringue, you must support one confection or the other.”
“What about those?” Ginger pointed to a small group of tall, lean, rigid blokes at the edge of the Oatmeal Raisin section.
“Ugh… Those are the Biscotti Brigade. They’re a fringe movement within the Oatmeal Raisin faction. The quite literal stick up that group’s collective ass. They’re nuts and you want no part of that. Besides, they would never accept you. You’re too… Fresh.”
Vanilla rushed to Ginger’s face as she stopped toying with her broken button and crossed her arms over her amply frosted chest. The sugar cookie bobbed in melodramatic dejection. It then motioned–quite a task for one so round–at a stack of fondant squares.
“Take one. If you’re not going to pick right off, the food dye can wait. Just… Pick a color. I promise, I won’t even look,” the bat-image on her front closed its eyes, “and we’ll just mark you as ‘undecided’. You won’t be able to vote in the Mixer, but if you’re as out of touch as you seem, I doubt you’d even know what to do with a Spatula.”
Ginger grabbed the square on top–a deep, midnight blue–and matched it to the CCC. She slid into the soup line and held out her bowl, but the older-yet-still-dashing biscuit before her shook his head, pointed to the red square dyed into his arm and directed her over to the next pot, where she was served a lukewarm portion of skim milk and chocolate chips. She eyed the thick broth of the Oatmeal Raisin soup–at least Two-Percent, if not Whole–and licked her cherry licorice lips.
Eventually, she got through the line–a few scrapings of nutmeg had miraculously found their way into her soup–and she was soon sitting among a trio of Hamentashen, all neatly pressed corners and glowing fruit and immaculate poppy fillings–not a seed out of place. They discussed the Kahki War, the yolk spill in the Gulf and, fittingly, the yeast crisis (“Prices are on the rise again!” joked a jelly doughnut, his rolls jiggling in self-aggrandizing laughter). But, most of all, they discussed the ORR.
“Those ignoramuses,” said a dapper young crumpet, “Don’t they see that our policy is not only ingenious, but correct and proper? It is heresy that they stand against us.”
“I agree,” intoned one of the Hamantashen, his apricot filling warbling pleasantly, “but they are adamant in their opinions. What can we do?”
“Simple,” said an eager square of graham cracker, “we block their bill!”
From the sudden sea of murmurs arose a growing voice of assent.
“Why yes! Splendid! Quid pro quo even!”
“A brilliant act of artifice! They shall never suspect it!”
“What are you all doing here?”
The voices ceased as everyone turned to Ginger, soup half finished, face flushed once more.
“Dear lady, we are here to bring the democratic process to you, the unwashed masses of our nation, with neither soft, fondant sheets nor crème pillows. Why, I doubt you’ve ever even had a stale marshmallow upon which to rest your head!”
She blushed a deeper shade of brown as the vanilla threatened to leak from her frosted eyes.
“Now now, I wasn’t finished,” the crumpet was on a real roll, “have you ever voted in an election, miss…”
“But that’s what I’ve been trying to say, sir. Us homeless can’t vote. We need an address.”
The crumpet’s mouth fell open. Frosting dripped from his perfect coat and stained the fruit-roll-up floor.
“How did this happen?” he dabbed at his dripping frosting.
“Well,” said Graham, “some of the Mint Minors heard that the Biscotti Brigade was going to do community service to raise public opinion for the Oatmeal Raisins, so we stepped in, but so did the Raisins, and we all figured that a political demonstration would bring in new voters from the otherwise untapped homeless population.”
“You did it ‘because they were doing it first’?”
Graham pouted, “Well, if you want to put it that way.”
Ginger sighed, “Can’t you all just get along? Agree that both Oatmeal Raisins and Chocolate Chips are delicious, even scrumptious?”
The Hamantashen removed their blue fondant and applied white squares in their stead.
“We hereby declare ourselves… The Vanilla Victors and our spokes-cookie, Ginger Bread!”
Ginger’s head fell to her hands as the Vanilla Victors charged the Oatmeal Raisin Republic’s line. As the miniature caucus devolved into a full-on food fight, milk soup decidedly non-partisan, she pulled the fondant square from her arm and crumpled it upon the floor.