Amusement danced on Jake’s face. He was really digging this girl. We all were. Silence ensued as Casey took a deep breath and gamely popped one of the two beans in her mouth. It was clear from the first bite which one she got.
“Tutti-fruitti, bitches!” she declared happily as she high-fived the rest of us. “Now I get to pick.”
“Wait, who made you boss?” Jake asked.
“It’s the rules.”
“According to who?”
“Me,” she laughed.
“Does anyone else have a problem with this?”
“No,” the rest of us yelled out, knowing that by allowing Casey to choose, Jake would be the next to go.
“Awesome. Okay, so I’m going to choose… oh gosh, who should it be?” Casey asked, with a wicked smile on her face. “I just can’t decide…”
“Just give me the damn spinner,” Jake replied, as he grabbed the game.
His spin landed on two dark green ones.
“Oh, shit!” Quinn exclaimed, looking sufficiently nervous. Because Jake hadn't been around much when he was growing up, Quinn didn’t have the close relationship with him that Keith and I had. As a result, he always seemed to be looking for validation of some sort.
“What? What did I get?”
“Well, yours are juicy pear…”
“Gross, I hate pears,” Jake complained.
“Actually, Jake, that’s the good flavor.” Quinn winced.
“What’s the bad flavor?”
“Booger?” Jake asked in astonishment.
“Yeah,” Quinn said, apologetically.
“So let me just clarify here. I won’t know until I put it in my mouth if I am eating pear or booger?”
“That’s the game, dork,” Casey pitched in, supportively. “Get on with it.”
Jake gave Quinn the stink eye before popping one of the two jellybeans in his mouth. Because he gave nothing away in his expression, it was impossible to know what flavor he was eating. We all waited expectantly. No reaction.
“Oh, my god!” Casey screeched. “The suspense is killing me.”
“Well, I’m no expert, but I’m pretty sure I just ate booger.”
“Don’t sell yourself short, J, I’m sure you’ve eaten plenty of boogers in your lifetime,” I offered helpfully.
Casey rolled with laughter before asking, “Was it sweet?”
“No. Definitely not sweet,” Jake grinned.
“Then you ate booger.”
Jake put his hand over his mouth like he was going to barf, and then started laughing.
Again, I was taken by complete surprise at Jake’s playfulness. Earlier he’d almost had me assassinated for suggesting he might possibly be double dipping a chip, and now he was eating boogers with glee.
“Okay, my turn to choose. Quinn, you’re up. And I really hope you get the barf bean, you little jerk! Does anyone have any water?”
“I have whiskey.”
“That’s even better.”
While Jake took a pull of whiskey to get the taste of booger out of his mouth, Quinn spun the wheel. He got the option of rotten egg or buttered popcorn, and wouldn’t you know it, he got buttered popcorn.
“Nooo!” Jake whined. “How is that fair?”
“It’s the game,” Quinn said shrugging, as he finished savoring his tasty bean.
“A rigged game,” I grumbled. I had yet to play, and I knew my time in the hot seat was quickly approaching.
“How can I rig jellybeans, Kyle?” Quinn asked, mocking in a snooty, teenage way.
“Yeah, Kyle,” Casey added, mimicking Quinn’s tone. “How can he rig jellybeans?”
“Jake, will you please keep that girl quiet?” I teased, as I spun the wheel.
“I’m not sure if that’s possible.”
Casey’s nose crinkled when she smiled. I had to admit it was pretty cute.
And as luck would have it, I landed on skunk spray or black licorice. “Of course! Two flavors I totally hate.”
“Right,” Keith joked. “Because he’s tried skunk spray on multiple occasions.”
“I’m just saying, no matter what, I lose,” I complained.
“Oh right, ’cuz I totally won with my booger bean.” Jake rolled his eyes.
I ignored him, cracking my knuckles and popping my neck in preparation. With an overly exaggerated breath, I picked up the jellybean and, plugging my nose, popped it in my mouth. As soon as I started chewing, heat rose up through every bone in my body. My skin tingled. My ears felt like they would burst into flames at any moment.
“Oh, god. Skunk. It’s frickin’ hot skunk. It burns,” I gasped, real fear gripping me. “I’m not kidding, guys. I think my insides have caught fire.”
But nobody was listening to my pleas because they were all hysterically laughing at me, no one more so than Quinn, who was literally rolling on the floor. Now I understood why he liked this game.
Jake handed over the whiskey and I took a swig, which only made it burn worse. I grabbed my throat and made dramatic gestures of dying. Again, my torment was only met with laughter.
“Water! Water!” I panted, frantically trying to wipe the taste of butt spray off my tongue with my fingers, but nothing eliminated the burn. Frantic, I dipped my hand into the atrium’s koi pond, scooped up some water, and flushed my mouth with soggy fish shit.
Quinn’s hysterics hit a fever pitch. I wasn’t positive, but I was pretty sure he might actually have peed himself a little bit. Which would have served him right, the little shit.
“You’re going to have to get used to that, Kyle,” Keith said, after catching his breath. “They’re going to make you eat all kinds of crazy crap on the show.”
“Nothing… and I mean nothing will be that disgusting,” I said coughing. “Let’s see how funny it is once you spin!”
Keith grabbed the spinner and took his turn. I felt somewhat redeemed when he got the baby wipe flavor. He tried to play it cool like Jake had, but quickly broke down and had to rinse his mouth with whiskey like the rest of us.
“Well, thanks, Quinn. That was awesome,” I said, expressionlessly.
“You’re just pissed because you ate skunk spray. I found my booger quite pleasing,” Jake joked.