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A Can of Miracles
Chicken Noodle soup has never tasted so good on any other day. Its steaming hot liquid burned almost all of my troubles away. Our soup cabinet usually was stuffed with steel cans of Chef Boyardee’s Super Stuffed Ravioli, Ramen Noodles and Campbell’s Chicken Noodle soup. I preferred Super Stuffed Ravioli over any meal of the day with its spicy inferno type flavor stuffed with little meat boulders inside. Ravioli was always a step away from the shelf and it tasted good even if wasn’t piping hot. Ramen noodles were always the other choice with its rough but tasty powder that melted into a delicious chicken flavored liquid. Ravioli was the primary choice for a snack and chicken noodles were secondary; up until then.
I was watching cartoons one day, watching Tom and Jerry and the Rocket Power kids rip up the streets until the commercial break. I always stayed for the commercial break unless I wanted to make something appear on my plate or “bleed the lizard”. When I got back from the bathroom, I see a Chicken Noodle contest flash on the screen, with a limo ride and a wrinkly butler holding open its door. It was a contest to Orlando, Florida for a trip to Nickelodeon studios! My eyes shone as bright as the sun and my feet hopped up with excitement. That was the first time I was ever interested off of winning something on TV as I knew even I could do it. I already had the tools, which were my stomach and my Tony the Tiger bowl. All I needed was the Noodle Cans that had the token or whatever it was. I pleaded my mom to buy cans of Campbell’s so I could win, and with a small smirk on her face she agrees.
“How many do you want?” she says.
“I want 100 of ‘em.” I shriek loudly.
“Boy, you know you ain’t gonna eat all them.”
“Please, I promise I will!”
“I’ll get you 10 sense they’re on sale.”
“Make sure you get the one’s with the purple on them!”
Every day after school I would chug down a bowl of noodles and a can of soft sparkly goodness called Sprite. I wouldn’t want to eat any other type of food besides chicken noodles at that time of day; as the thought of going to Nickelodeon Studios spun like the Beyblade toys I used to play with. The noodle juice was a golden sea of opportunities to swim in. The actual sea of gold was only a can away as I ate away with a chicken noodle diet for 2 weeks. Every time I opened a can I shook with the speed of Sonic the Hedgehog on cocaine just to look under the lid for the little white token. Many times my confidence turned from rock solid into mudslide. I never thought I could win as there where millions of others who could win. I was blue, and soggier than my mother’s putrid mashed potatoes. I was down to 3 cans and I still have not been able to pull a winning tag. All this time dedicated to eating Campbell’s Chicken noodles had almost tipped into the sink. It had almost felt this way, until I opened the last can. I open this last can, and I get on my knees and pray to god that there was a token on the bottom of the lid. I struggle to open this one last can and peek into the can with one eye. It pops open quick and a little piece of plastic slides off the lid. Time stops as I slowly I pick it up and flip it over and under it says, “YOU WIN”. I shriek with excitement as the floors and the ceiling shake and peel its paint. My mother rushes down to the scene and yells at me.
“John what are you doing?” my mother nagged.
“ I WON!” I shouted loudly.
“You a damn lie. Let me see,”
She takes the paper token out of my hand. Her face crumples with disbelief. She could not believe it and neither could I. I hadn’t seen her that happy in quite a while. She immediately went on her phone and started calling everyone she could, telling everyone about what had just happened. She stayed on the phone for hours and hours until dawn brew. I told my Dad who was in Kentucky at the moment and the next day I bragged to all my friends and my teachers. Most people believed me and others thought I was lying; some didn’t care at all. I zipped around recess as a rabbit would hop around a prairie, pure joy.
“Hey I get to go to Nickelodeon studios!” I screamed
“I don’t care, Cartoon Network is better!” as a boy cried in pure jealousy.
The next couple of days were rough; as I found out I didn’t get to go until summer time. A pool of water splashed under me as a whined and shouted even louder than when I had won. Somehow that had all translated into “Nope, you don’t get to go” as the walls in my house all caved inside my head. I dashed to the nearest closet and stayed in there for a good half an hour.
“When you gonna come out the closet Johnny boy?” my mama asked.
“No!” I screamed.
“If you keep acting bad you don’t get to go!”
“Hey, we’re going to the PX you want to go?”
“No!” I said for the third time.
Months passed as summer finally came. The sun shined bright mellow yellow in the sky and the heat scorched the grains of sand on the beaches. It was summer time and I had almost forgotten all about my trip to Nickelodeon studios. The way I had remembered it, I had gotten some tickets in the mail to Orlando but my mother had arranged it all. I packed my bags as I stuffed my suitcase with my coolest shirts and my shorts. I had never been to Florida before as I thought it was supposed to a lot like Hawaii. The roads had stretched on until eternity as the drive to the airport was a long one. My mother made sure I had everything going for me correctly as was very protective of me. There was a sort of butler waiting for me at the gate, his mustache curved almost like the guy you see on the Pringles can. At the moment I had almost felt rich. My mother was asking him all sorts of questions.
“What time will he get there?” my mother asked.
“I don’t know.” he said dismally.
“Will he be able to call me?” after the plane lands.
“Do you know anything?”
“Not really” as the guide rolled his eyes.
The plane had landed and everyone was boarding. I saw no other kid beside mothers and their babies. My mother hugged me tightly and cried.
“You be a good boy, ok?” My mother asked as she clutched my arm.
“I will, and I will bring you back something!”
“I love you. You be good.”
“I love you too, bye bye.”
She kissed on the forehead and I wiped it off right after. She waved goodbye and I waved bye back. I boarded the plane with the guide; he grabbed my bag and my suitcase and put it in the plane cubby things. The guide said goodbye as he dashed out in a hurry after he packed my bags. They sat me first class with this nice middle aged looking lady. She was young and almost comparable to a supermodel, that’s all I should probably say.
“Hey sweetie, where are you going?” the lady asked.
“I’m going to Nick studios to see SpongeBob!” I said.
“Well isn’t that nice, you’re a very lucky boy.”
As soon as we were in air my ears shriveled up like little raisins thanks to the altitude of the flight. The pain scattered across my head as it all compressed together. I was pretty much crying the whole time. I thought I was going to die that day and I didn’t think I was going to see my mother ever again.
“Aww it’s ok baby.” The lady assured me.
“I wanna go home.”
“It’ll be ok I promise.”
I held my gameboy bag as close to me as I could as I did not bother playing it for the entire flight. I fell asleep as I passed the clouds I was flying in. There was no sound.
Hours passed as it was time to get off the flight. The lady woke me up and told me it was time to go.
“Hey buddy it’s time to go now.”
“That wasn’t so bad huh?”
“Yeah, I told you you’ll be alright honey.”
I get my bags together and I get off the plane. There’s a guy with a black suit and tie holding a sign that says “JOHN JOHNSON”. He greets me and guides me all the way to the ride.
I saw a long, extraordinary black car with chrome like windows and smooth texture. I could not believe it was for me. I jump in and I bounce on the seat and I spot a small but slick LCD TV on one of the seats. The experience made me feel like I had actually died on the plane and went to heaven instead.
“You all set there buddy?” the limo guy said through the built in microphone.
“Yeah, let’s go already!” I yelled.
“Alright we’ll all a go now.”
The limo stretched on for miles as we set sail to the resort. Florida was luscious and green like the commercials had pictured it. The leaves and the bushes took their own tide to the wind as I rolled down the tinted blue windows. A clean cool breeze hit my face as we rode toward the teal blue beaches and spicy hot babes. I clutched onto the soft black leather seats, as I could not await the surprises that awaited me. My heart started beating as we kept making false stops toward the luxurious hotels. It had almost felt as if I was riding on a long wheel barrel of gold when we passed all the rich parts of town. My ride was tranquil, comfortable and enjoyable, as I had nobody trying to tell me what to do. I clutched onto my purple Gameboy Advance and played Pokemon for the rest of the ride.
As we made our final stop the soft leather door opens for me as the butler waits outside with a well trimmed beard and pitch black suit. The hotel was bright and a contrast to the rest of the hotel and behind it was a huge water park that glistened a bright light from the sun light. Inside await everything i could imagine that was Nickelodeon .The hotel had about four different colors, orange, blue, green and yellow. As I got checked in the hotel, there were SpongeBob plushies and everything Nickelodeon in the room on the walls. I jumped on the bed and played with soft and comfortable stuffed toys until I fell asleep. Before I went to bed, a service guy knocks on my door and brings me a bowl of Campbell’s chicken noodles. I scoffed in disgust, as my last can was all I could take. The delicious steaming bowl of Campbell’s Chicken noodle soup had turned into a steaming bowl of piss. Yuck.
The first day didn’t leave so much of a good impression in my head. I wake up to a knock on my door and right in front of me was a white guy in a teal blue shirt and camo shorts.
“Hey I’m Steve, and I’ll be your guide today!” he said excitingly.
I was taken by surprise by a quick moment and then I calmed down. His posture and appearance reminded me of Pee Wee Herman. Behind him were two other kids; a boy and a girl with similar shirts on. I don’t quite remember their names because I hardly talked to them anyway. Steve then took us downstairs for a on a tour around the rest of the resort hotel. The walls were jumbled with cartoon characters and a lot of colors as I looked around. We rode on a huge tangerine golf cart all around the resort. It even had its own stairs it could roll onto. The ride was a lot of fun that way. The resort had its own aquarium full of exotic and weird fish. The biggest part of the day was the water park; even though I didn’t know how to swim. The two other kids glowed mellow yellow with excitement as we passed the resort water park.
“Wow, that slide is so big!” said the orange haired boy.
“When do we get to swim?” asked the energetic girl.
“Not yet, we don’t get to do the fun stuff until later” ensured Steve.
“That’s really stupid!” whined the orange haired boy.
The guide had no real reaction and we continued the tour the rest of the way. There were about 7 floors but it all seemed like an eternity trying to get through them. By the time we got done it was already lunch time and we all agreed that we were starving. The lunch room we stopped at was huge and almost as big as two cafeterias. I wanted a table all to myself, but unfortunately we had to stay together. Out of nowhere Patrick Star comes out and brings us lunch menus. The other kids screamed and clapped with excitement but I knew he wasn’t the real Patrick. I remember trying to be all friendly and asked them what they’re getting for lunch.
“Hey what are you guys getting for lunch?” I asked.
“I’m getting the pizza!” said the orange haired boy
“Me too!” said the girl.
It was ironic because it’s basically all they had on the menu. They had Pizza, Hamburgers and Nick Ribs. I didn’t bother ordering the Nick Ribs because I was afraid of what they did to them; them being Nickelodeon and all. After about 10 minutes, Cosmo the fairy comes out of the kitchen with the smallest plates. My own hand was bigger than that burger I couldn’t believe they thought I was going to get full on it. It was the size of an Oatmeal cream pie which is very small for a burger. If you knew me well you’d know I’m a very hungry boy.
“Can I have some more burgers please” I asked politely.
“Ah, we have some things we got to go to” Steve assured.
“Like what?” I impatiently asked.
“Like watching Slime Time Live!” the butler screamed excitingly.
After he had said that I immediately got out of my seat and ran back to the cart. The other kids were just as excited. After everyone got done, we rolled onto the outdoor stage and got our seats. It was just like how I see it on TV minus the actual fun. We got the closest seats but we played no real role in the show like the others kids do on TV. No slime, no pies, and no fun at all. And to add things up; It was scorching hot and the seats burned on every move I made. We stayed there for a half an hour then we left, skipping the part where they gave prizes away. I was overweight with disappointment and fury. As I we went back the cart there was nothing but complete silence as we rode back to the suite.
“So did you guys have fun or what?” the guide had the nerve to ask.
“No, I’m hungry.” I said.
“Me too” the other boy said.
“Well you can’t swim on a full stomach, so get ready!” Steve implied.
Steve implied that we were going to the pool and took us to our rooms to change. I had only brought one pair of shorts so I used those. When we got to the pool it was already an ocean of people. I didn’t even bother with it because I couldn’t swim anyway. The only thing that really captured my interest was this giant pole that sprinkled water. I sat under that, wet gloomy and alone until the 30 minutes were up.
“Alright guys it’s time to go!” Steve yelled ambitiously.
“We just got here!” the other boy said.
“Can’t we stay a little longer?” the girl pleaded.
“No we have to follow the rules, now get your little butts in that cart!” Steve shouted.
I got back on the cart the same way I came in, quiet and upset. He took us to our rooms again and didn’t come back for the rest of the day. I look toward the window and see the orange dawn; before I knew it the day was already over. I hop onto the bed and turn the TV to Cartoon Network because I have already had enough of Nickelodeon. Minutes later I get a knock on my door. It’s the service guy delivering food and “much to my surprise” it was Campbell’s Chicken Noodle soup. As soon as he left, I ate a little bit of it and then I poured the rest of it down the toilet and got back on the bed. I never realized how much better being at home was. I actually started to miss my mommy. I missed eating regular homemade food that my mother would scramble up. There was no one here to talk to or to play with, overall I was alone and there was nothing I could do about it. I started to turn off the lights and the TV and I cuddled under the only good thing about this trip, the bed sheets. I cried and looked toward the moonlit night sky and said only two things before I fell asleep.
“I wanna go home, I want my mommy.”
The next two days were pretty much the same as the last. It was the same routine and the same problems too. I tried to enjoy myself but I really got nothing out of it. I tried interacting with the other kids but it always ended up being awkward.
“Hey do you like Power Rangers?”I asked curiously.
“No.” the other boy said bluntly.
Steve was never really the most memorable guide. It seemed like he just had kept us busy and went his own way at the end; which is exactly what happened.
The last day was probably the best of them all because that’s when I got to leave. I had already packed up everything the night before and rolled out the door. I was the first one downstairs and I couldn’t wait to leave. The limo driver opened the door and I threw myself onto the soft leather cushions.
“I hope you guys had a nice time, come and visit us sometime!” Steve said perkily.
“You go to hell Steve.” I said as we drove off.
After the long and tedious plane ride, I saw my mother waiting for me and I dropped all my bags and ran into her arms. I clutched tight onto her warm presence having no indication of letting go.
“Did you have a good time?” my mother asked.
“No, it sucked and I missed you.”
“Oh I missed you too buddy” she assured.
So I guess it wasn’t all the hype it turned out to be. I wanted to be famous for what I did or what people thought I did. I wanted more for myself but in the end, I was a lot worse off than most other kids. I went with a lot more than what I could anticipate and I came back with nothing. From a bigger perspective; I have learned that the guy who wants everything risks losing everything and the guy who wants little from life might now get anything at all.