It wasn't like she'd used a brochure to quit smoking, so she didn't have to listen to any of the ones plastered all over the Student Health Center now, when they were warning ex-smokers not to let food replace cigarettes as part of their routine. Which she wasn't. She was just craving the uncomplicated taste of potato chips. Period.
Britta stood, tapping her foot impatiently as the line at the Student Rec Center dragged on in its Greendale way. It couldn't hurt to open the bag now; she was still going to pay for it, of course. She was just being efficient.
She ripped open the bag, breathing in the scent, and found a perfect chip on her first try. Man, that was good. Her eyes might have fluttered shut when the salt hit her tongue. They popped open when she heard a voice roughly two millimeters from her ear.
"Are you doing a blind taste test?" It was Abed, who was apparently a part-time stealth ninja, his head cocked curiously to the side as he studied her. "How are you recording your experience?" He whipped out his videocamera and turned it on. "Would you like me to document it?"
"What? No, Abed. I'm not doing a taste test. I'm enjoying a snack while I wait to pay for it." The line advanced about a foot while he peered at her some more, still recording.
"Cool," he finally said. "Cool cool cool."
"Want one?" she offered, and he smiled and took exactly one.
"Wait, can I take one for Troy, too?"
"Sure," she said, wondering if he was just planning to hold it until his partner in bromance showed up, but Troy entered with a resounding woof, punctuating it by catching the chip Abed had tossed in the air in his mouth.
She was impressed; chips were not particularly aerodynamic. Then again, he'd probably had a lot of people lobbing food his way when he'd dislocated both shoulders. She was kind of surprised Annie hadn't seized the opportunity to feed him, lovingly, by hand.
"Troy!" Speak of the pixie-ish devil, and she doth appear. Annie strode over, eyes wide with horror. "Are you eating potato chips?" Like the bag Britta was holding said Delicious Newborn-Baby Flavor!
Troy shrugged his confusion, so Annie elaborated. "They have trans fats in them!"
"WHAT?!?" Troy shrieked. "They make you fat and they could make me have . . . girl parts?"
Before Britta could do more than roll her eyes and open her mouth to begin the much-delayed education of Troy Barnes on nutrition and gender politics, Jeff strolled up, smirk already in place. "Yes, Troy, you'll develop breasts, and you won't be T-Bone, you'll be . . . T&A."
"Nice," Britta said, making sure the appropriate amount of disgust was in her voice, even if she couldn't keep the corners of her mouth from curling up in a traitorous smile. Still, it wasn't fair to leave Troy in suspense, or to let him stick a finger down his throat. "He's kidding. Trans fats are -"
"The subject of my next big front-page article!" Annie cut in. "New York City has already banned the sale of foods containing trans fats; does Greendale want us to be less healthy than the winos lying in gutters on Broadway?"
Jeff, at whom this was all clearly aimed, was busy texting with one hand and reaching into the bag of chips with the other. "Sounds great, Ace," he muttered, and Britta cringed to see Annie blossom under dubious affirmation from such an ersatz authority figure.
He got his, though, and Britta smiled, seeing that karma was on its toes around Jeff; Shirley's hand smacked him none too gently upside the head and he spat up a mouthful of chips. Shirley had gotten good at pasting a smiling face and bubbly cheer over her seething wells of rage, though, and her voice was so sweet that even Britta half-believed that the slap had been accidental. "You look hungry," Shirley cooed at Jeff, who had potato chip flakes still clinging to his lower lip. She reached into her voluminous bag and pulled out a plastic container of goodies. "Would you like to try one of my new caramel brownies that I offered you earlier?"
Jeff nodded warily and reached out his hand like a lion tamer on his very first day. Abed and Troy dug in without being asked, and after one bite Troy let out a moan of pleasure that made Annie's cheeks turn pink. "Britta?" Shirley prompted. "Would you like a brownie or -"
"Put me down for some of your whatnot," Pierce said, strolling up and smirking like he'd just pulled off a masterful double entendre. Shirley took a small step back but valiantly held the container out to him. Britta realized a second later that she and Annie had stepped up to flank Shirley protectively. "Brittles," he continued with his mouth full, "stay away from these if you want to keep your girlish figure."
She decided to let that one go even though her hands had automatically balled into fists.
"Well, look at you!" a voice rang out, and they swiveled as one to face the newcomer. It was Dean Pelton, smiling benevolently at them. "Greendale's newest diversity poster!" His hands sketched vague gestures around them, but lingered for some time on Troy's cheeks (both sets) and Jeff's chest. "You're always congregating! Photogenically!"
"Congress?" Pierce asked, and his pocket phone squawked dialing Congress and connected; an automated recording asked if they wanted to hear a list of AARP discounts.
Pierce fumbled to shut off the phone, Jeff tried to evade the dean's wandering hands, and Britta realized the cashier for her line had closed his register. "Let's go," she said.
She looked for the nearest person to take the chips off her hands. A flash of white caught her eye. She pulled a five from her wallet and handed it and the bag of chips over, saying, "Enjoy."
The Human Being seemed to smile.
As always, I'd love to hear what you think.