“I’m a vegetarian now,” Zee’s best friend Zoya announced at lunch one day.
“Why?” Zee’s other best friend, Alice, had asked.
“I saw a video of how chicken nuggets are made online and-”
“-enough said.” Zee cut her off. “Please don’t ruin chicken nuggets for me.”
Zoya shrugged “okay” and took a bite of her salad.
“Just remember not to eat the french toast,” Alice said, making the other two girls laugh. The joke came from an experience with the person you may remember as the [poor, innocent, victimized] girl, who had once been friends with them. Her name was technically Tara.
Anyway, the situation the joke was derived from had occured on a normal day at lunch the year before. Tara had recently become a vegetarian and really really liked to talk about it.
“I just can’t stand the idea of eating helpless animals,” Tara had said, taking a bite off of one of her french toast sticks “it’s like eating puppies.”
Zee eyed her, eyebrows raised. “You should hang out in China,” she said, “rumor has it they eat dogs there.”
Tara looked horrified. “I’m never eating Chinese takeout again!” she said.
Zoya, who sat across from Zee and next to Tara, and Zee shared a ‘Should we tell her?’ look. Alice, next to Zee, looked down at her food with a well-masked smile.
Oblivious to all of this, Tara continued to talk. “Baby animals are the worst. Like, why would anyone want to eat an innocent little baby chicken?”
Zee and Zoya had a short nonverbal argument that Zee won.
“So you don’t eat eggs then?” Zee asked Tara.
“Of course not!” she said, bringing one of her french toast sticks up to her mouth to take a bite.
“You know french toast is dipped in egg, right?” Zee held back her giggles as Tara’s brown eyes widened and she froze, dropping the food back into the puddle of syrup on her tray. A little splashed onto the ends of her greasy, brown hair and onto her stained, teal-colored sweatshirt.
“You’re joking, right?” She turned to Zoya. “Is she joking?”
Zoya laughed and shook her head, long reddish-brown hair narrowly missing her own food.
“Ew ew ew ew ew...” Tara chanted as she stood up, looking disgustedly at her mostly-eaten food. “...ew ew ew ew ew...” she walked over to the trash and threw it away. “...ew ew ew ew ew ew...” She sat back down with a final, large “EW!”
By this time Alice, Zoya and Zee were all three in peals of hysterical laughter. Tara looked a bit hurt. She might have cried in the bathroom afterwards. Or maybe thrown up.
Zee shook her head at the memory. In a surge of resentment and and condecension, she hoped that Tara had both thrown up and cried. A lot.
Zoya nodded with a little laugh. “Don’t worry.”