It Ain't Easy Being Grape: Part One
From all my experiences of being a Grape Chia, I discovered that Neopians generally had one of two reactions when first meeting me. They either stared at me with doting eyes and made annoying ‘awww’ or ‘ooh’ noises, commenting on how cute and purple I was, or took a more disturbing approach, licking their lips at the sight of me in my poor, helpless form and probably imagining me on the top of a towering fruit platter.
It didn’t help, either, that my name was Violet (by pure coincidence, by the way). As a result, I became the easy target for teasing and well, cheek pinching accompanied by nauseating comments like “aww goochy woochy woo.” However, quickly did they learn that I was not who they thought I was. I may have been six inches tall, purple and delicious, but within a day or two they realized that I was not one to be messed with.
Firstly, I had a snappy mouth. If someone even thought about teasing me, or pinching my cheeks, they could count on me firing back straight away with verbal ammo in such a manner that would’ve caused them to cower away in the back corner in sheer embarrassment. It was then, I guess, that other Neopets decided I wasn’t really cute anymore. In fact, I made it known that I despised the word ‘cute’, and aspired to be the stark opposite of what defined cute. I thought I did quite well in that respect.
Secondly, I’d been training vigorously at a training school (not as good as the one at Mystery Island one though, I hear) every week for two years. Just saying that was enough to cause other Neopets to back away slowly. And if that didn’t do the trick, a karate demonstration always seemed to work like a charm.
As much as I loved karate chops, it was never the same as having someone there beside me cheering me on. Don’t get me wrong, I had a loving owner, Ellie, and a perfect sister, Rosie, but it was never the same as having a friend who could truly relate to me. Sadly, I don’t think I ever had a friend I could rely on or that didn’t think of me as anything other than a fragile but feisty piece of fruit.
I often envied my sister Rosie. She was younger than me - a baby Kacheek - and although we both were different shades of purple, that was all we shared in common. She was funny, popular and pretty, and somewhat dim-witted at times (she once asked me whether Elephante’s could fly). Despite our age difference, Rosie was about four inches taller than me. Imagine my embarrassment on the first day of Neoschool when she tells her friends I’m her big sister. “Big sister? That’s your big sister?” her friends asked incredulously. Thus, you can understand why I tried my best to distance myself from her during school hours, which is difficult considering she’s in all of my classes.
Anyway, that was me. Purple, incredibly delicious but admittedly lonesome me. It wasn’t until an average day at Neoschool that things began to change.
Miss Willard, our teacher, was at the front of the class introducing a new student. Problem was, I couldn’t see anything from the back of the classroom but a blob of green jelly next to her.
“Everyone, this is Oliver,” she said, gesturing towards the blob of jelly. “He’s just come from... erm, where did you say you came from again?”
Suddenly, the jelly began to move. What looked like a mouth said rather impassively, “Jelly World. I’ve come from jelly world.”
It was then that the class erupted into fits of laughter. Miss Willard was even giggling. “Oh, that was so funny, Oliver. I can see you’re going to be a rival to our class clown,” she said, nodding at the biggest Grarrl in the school, Mick. Mick’s jokes were never actually that funny, but his sharp teeth were enough to make you so scared you had to force a laugh. Or else. Even I tried my best to avoid Mick upon hearing rumors of his giant appetite. Better safe than sorry.
“Everyone knows Jelly World doesn’t exist – but what a great way to lighten up the class. Take a seat, Oliver,” Miss Willard said wiping a tear of laughter from her eye.
A befuddled and nervous Oliver took the only empty seat in the classroom – the one next to me. That’s when I realised he wasn’t just a blob of jelly, but a Jelly Chomby. Feeling an inkling of sympathy, I tried my best to comfort him. “Don’t worry; the class is usually like this. You get used to it after a while. Maybe you shouldn’t have pulled the joke on the first day though, the class takes time to warm up to people,” I whispered to Oliver.
To my surprise, he looked at me even more perplexed. “But I wasn’t kidding, you see. I really did come from Jelly World.”
By that time I was starting to feel confused. Was he for real? The humor of the joke was starting to wear off and I was getting impatient. But I decided not to question him anymore about it - moving schools was always a difficult time and he was probably experiencing some self-doubt. Instead, I chose to be nice, or as nice as I could be. “Right... well anyway, my name’s Violet.” I was about to reach over to shake his hand, but decided against it, saving myself from embarrassment. My arms weren’t long enough to reach over, and it would look silly to jump off my chair and walk over to his desk just to greet him. “If you need any help settling in, you can ask me,” I said, surprised at myself for being so nice. I expected him to give me a warm smile, thanking me for my generosity, but instead I got a blank stare.
“Oh, okay then,” he replied, looking back to the front of the class.
“Hi Violet, how was school today?” Ellie said as I trotted inside our Neohome on High Street.
“Okay,” I grumbled.
Ellie stared at me knowingly. “What’s wrong? I know from that tone of yours that something happened.”
I paused for a while, and decided I had nothing to lose in divulging the reason behind my grumpiness to somebody. “Well, we had a new student today. His name is Oliver and he says he’s from Jelly World.” I paused while Ellie giggled.
“Sorry sweetie, go on,” she said, putting on a straight face.
“It’s alright. I do admit it was pretty funny at the start. Strangely, I don’t think he was joking when he said that... but the point is, I tried my best to be nice to him. Like you always say, treat others how you would like to be treated,” I said.
“That’s great, Violet, I’m proud of you,” Ellie smiled. “What’s the problem, then?”
“The problem was he looked at me as if he didn’t care! I mean, he didn’t even thank me or smile at me. I feel as if the first time I’m being nice to someone I get rejected.”
Ellie shook her head. “Violet, being nice isn’t just a one-day thing. You need to maintain it. Oliver might not respond today or tomorrow, but that’s no reason to suddenly be mean and nasty. He’s probably still finding it difficult to settle into a new school, a new neighborhood. If you really want to be his friend, you need to understand and give him time to realize you’re just trying your best to help.”
I nodded. “You’re right, Ellie. Thanks.” I guess I had to give Oliver a chance. I mean, I only talked to him for about two minutes and was already judging him as a weird, timorous jelly Chomby.
“No problem, Violet. By the way, we have a new neighbour opposite our home. Would you do me a favor and run over there to give them this strawberry jelly I prepared earlier? Say it’s a gift from their new neighbors.”
As I crossed the road towards the newly-renovated home opposite ours, I was thinking of ways to talk to Oliver the next day. Perhaps I could be more patient. Or I could be more entertaining – after all, Oliver was showing signs of being a great comedian with his ability to maintain a straight face when cracking jokes. We could be friends. Good friends. Best friends. It was then that I acknowledged something I always used to deny – I disliked being alone all the time. In fact, I despised being alone. Sure, I had my karate skills and my fantastic ability to speak my mind, but I had to admit it wasn’t the same as having someone there to share those moments with.
I waited patiently, gazing at the rather large plate of wobbly strawberry jelly in my arms.
The door suddenly swung open. It was Oliver. He couldn’t see me; in fact he looked like a towering mountain of jelly from where I was standing. I sighed. “Hey, I’m over here!” At last Oliver noticed me and looked at me curiously. “Hi. What do you want?”
“Hi Oliver, we happen to be your new neighbors. We, meaning my owner Ellie, my sister Rosie, and I. We happen to live just opposite your home and wanted to welcome you with this-” Before I could say what I was giving to him, I suddenly realised what I was carrying in my hand and guilt overwhelmed me. Oliver peered at the plate curiously. Oh no, oh no. Why did I have to carry a plate of jelly? Now Oliver probably thought I was mocking him, making fun of him. What kind of jelly pet would eat jelly? ‘Argh, good job Violet, you’ve really ruined it now. Get away from here before he gets offended!’ I thought.
Just as I was backing away and preparing to scurry as fast as I could back home so I could hide my increasingly red face in my six-inch long bed, I was stopped. “Wait!” Oliver called abruptly.
To be continued...