You may recall that I have a thing for donuts. A big thing. A “dear god why have you forsaken me in this donut-less wasteland” thing.
It wasn’t always this way.
For one ill-advised period in my non-vegan life, I decided that I didn’t need donuts. That they were too greasy. That cookies were better (they aren’t).
But, there was a time before, as there often is. A time, my dear friends, of Krispy Kreme.
They are glazed. They are soft. They are hot and ready.
And what I mean by hot and ready, is that every Krispy Kreme has a sign in their window that reads: “HOT AND READY.”* And, sometimes, that sign sizzles red. And, when that sometimes occurs, it is the equivalent of the bat signal for the donut community. Because it means that an abundance of literal halo-shaped baked goods are shooting out of the Krispy Kreme ovens at a high rate of speed, and they want to give you one of them for free.**
And, one fine day in the year 2004, that sizzling red sign popped on right as my mom was driving past it.
“Pull in!” I shriek, lunging toward the window and pressing my hands against the glass.
I’m wearing my soccer uniform. My socks are pulled down, my shin pads are exposed. I smell like sweat and grass.
My sister in in the back seat. Her head rears up from whatever book she’s reading as I shriek again.
“Pull in! MOM! Krispy Kreme!”
“RG,” My mom groans, still driving. “I’m not buying you–”
“No, no, no — MOM,” I roll my eyes. How my mother could be driving past the HOT AND READY sign is completely beyond my realm of understanding. “They give them to you for free.”
My mom turns the car around (You can’t argue with free baked goods in the RG household), and pulls into the sleepy strip mall holding the only Krispy Kreme around.
Wide bay windows line the front of the building. Through the glass, we can see a line already forming. The bat signal has been received.
My mom parks right in front, close to the door. “Okay, you guys go in.” She pulls a newspaper out of her purse and starts flipping through the pages. “I’ll stay here.”
We leap out of the car, giddy and giggling as we skip up to the tall glass door of Free Donut Heaven.
Only when we’re inside, waiting in line, moments away from two steaming glazed donuts, do we see the flaw in our plan.
You see, Krispy Kreme Donuts is a business. And businesses generally don’t just give away their products for free. Not without a catch, at least.
The catch becomes exceedingly clear as we watch every person who gets a free donut go on to buy a full box of very much not free donuts.
And, in that horrifying moment, we realize five things in consecutive order:
a) We are expected to buy donuts.***
b) We are desperately broke (we are pre-teens with a Pokemon addiction, after all).
c) We can’t go back to the car and ask for money. The entire reason that my mother turned around was the free-ness of the baked goods.
d) We can’t just leave. Not once we’d watched those literal halos shoot out of the oven and slide under a hot stream of glaze.
e) We have only one option: theft.
The girl behind the counter walks toward us with two hot steaming donuts wrapped in paper napkins. “Do you guys want to try our fresh donuts?”
My sister and I nod aggressively, our hands hovering over the counter. Waiting. The girl slips the donuts into our hands and smiles.
There is a moment. Her smiling at us. And us looking up at her, and glancing at each other, and staring at our HOT AND READY donuts.
And, then, we run.
“START THE CAR!” We sprint out of the Krispy Kreme and charge toward the car. Two donuts hot in our hands. “START THE CAR!” (Like this, except with donuts).
“What did you do?!” My mom mouths through the car window. Her eyes wide. Her face white.
We rip open the doors and fling ourselves into our seats.
“What happened?!” She gapes at us. The newspaper forgotten in her lap.
“JUST GO, MOM!” We bellow. “GO GO GO!”
My mom fumbles with the keys as she turns over the engine. Once, twice.
In the split second before the car starts, I look up. The entire population of Krispy Kreme Donuts is staring at us through those wide bay windows. HOT AND READY donuts frozen halfway to their mouths.
I make eye contact with the girl behind the counter. Her mouth hangs open.
In my hand, the hot glaze of my donut seeps through the paper napkin. I have never felt more alive.
The engine putts to life, and my mom peels out from the sleepy North Surrey strip mall. Our getaway driver. (In hindsight, it’s good to know that I have the kind of mother who is willing to start the car on command and speed out of a Krispy Kreme Donuts with minimal questions asked).
We are hardened criminals. We are on the run.
We are two pre-teen girls. One of us is wearing shin pads.
White knuckles on the wheel, my mom looks over at me. I’m staring down at the donut in my hand in disbelief.
“Everyone else was buying donuts, too,” My words blur together. “And we didn’t know what to do… we–we panicked! We just took the free ones and ran!”
My mom just blinks. Once, twice.
And then she starts laughing.
And then we’re all laughing. The kind of laughing that hurts your stomach and makes your cheeks ache.Our hot and ready donuts forgotten in our hands.
* Apparently these days it says “HOT NOW” on Krispy Kreme signs. But, *puts on wheezy grandfather voice and shakes fist* back in my day (a.k.a. 2004), it said “HOT AND READY.”
** Do they even still give away free donuts? Someone please inform this sad donut-less vegan.
*** I’m pretty sure there are no hard rules in the Free Donut Game. We probably weren’t expected to buy donuts. But, if the law ever catches up with me, I’ll let you know.