Donuts and Cider
he mid-morning sun beamed down on Erik’s face as he reached down
into the crate and grabbed a handful of homemade cinnamon sugar donuts. Heading over to the other side of the pavement, he poured himself a cup of apple cider and took his first swig. It tasted like home.
It was 9:50am and students had an extended break before second period to stop by for an age-old tradition known as Donuts and Cider. At this time every day, crates of warm donuts and pitchers of (cold or warm, depending on the season) apple cider were laid out along the walkway leading to the headmaster’s house. The donuts and cider were spaced out to give students plenty of room to avoid repeating a disaster that happened a couple years ago when his school used a food cart to dispense mid-morning snack. At the beginning of the break, around a hundred students rushed the cart, pushing some first formers to the ground and some even got trampled on. By the time teachers were able to disperse the overexcited crowd, several had sustained a concussion and others left bruised and bleeding. The food cart was never used again.
Erik liked everything being spread out. He could get what he wanted without waiting in line. On that late summer day, the cider was cold and refreshing. Erik took another swig and walked over to where several of his friends stood, talking and laughing as they stuffed their faces with donuts, wiping the excess on the edges of their sleeves and blazers.
“Bro!” Erik’s buddy Harry waved him over. “What are you wearing at the pep rally? We’re coming up with ideas for some epic costumes.”
“Dude, I don’t yet but it’ll be legendary,” Erik bragged.
The day before the much-anticipated game against their biggest rivals over the weekend the school came together for a pep rally not only to support the football team but also to get the largest Loop possible, or, in other words, a strong turnout of fans at the game. As usual, Erik and others in the Loop planned on wearing the most outrageous outfits to go along with that week’s theme – a day at the beach. One guy was going as a lifeguard and another as a shark. Erik hadn’t made up his mind on what to wear yet. He would figure that out later, he told himself. However, for the game, they all decided to wear t-shirts with the words Donuts and Cider scrawled across it. Undoubtedly, the other school would chant these words at some point during the game in an effort to make fun of their tradition. They made the t-shirts to respond to being teased for something that they weren’t really ashamed of.
Erik nodded as his friends continued talking about the upcoming game, paying only half attention to what was being said. He was enjoying his warm donuts too much. How do they taste like they just came out of the oven? he wondered, knowing that the cooks must have prepared them earlier that morning. He ate slowly to savor the moment. No easy task since he normally scarfed down his food and moved on to whatever was next in his schedule. But this was a time to break the everyday monotony and rejuvenate himself.
ignoring his friends rambling on about the game, Erik turned his attention to others around him. Students stood in groups, laughing and chatting animatedly as they took large bites out of their donuts. Everyone seemed so relaxed and happy, such a stark difference, he thought, from how students usually acted in other spaces at the school. The tradition provided a breath of fresh air from the usual competitive nature of the student body. A different form of camaraderie was on full display.
Erik bit into his last donut, relishing the last few moments of break. But before he could finish it, the warning bell rang, signaling that it was time to face reality again. He downed the cider left in his cup and stuffed the rest of the donut in his mouth. He looked over at Harry and motioned that it was time to leave. The two slowly began making their way to class. Even though
they arrived about a minute late, their teacher simply told them to take a seat. Showing up late to class after donuts and cider was the only time when tardiness was overlooked.