The lonely Little Wonton sat on his bed of seaweed, crying. Lost in the land of Burgers and Fries, the lonely Little Wonton no longer believed he was perfect. His mother, the Perceptive Potsticker, had told him that Little Wontons were beautiful packages of goodness. They were sealed and golden brown and held a surprise inside. “What could be better than that,” she wondered aloud.
Apparently, the convenient packaging of a fast food meal, if you were to believe the Little Wonton’s friend, the Burger. “You may be golden brown, wonton, old pal, but you don’t come in a bun, you don’t come with any sauces, you can’t just add cheese if necessary.” The Little Wonton tried to speak up to explain that he did, indeed, have hot mustard and soy in his backpack, but the Burger was on a roll.
“And who are you supposed to hang out with? Do you even know? Everyone knows that a Burger hangs out with Fries. That’s what we do. We go together like Peas and Carrots. Why anyone would actually want to see Peas and Carrots together, I don’t know, it’s just something that people say.”
The Little Wonton wanted to explain that in the old country he often hung out on a bed of Greens and that Rice was everyone’s friend, but as he started to speak, Fries showed up. “Why are you hanging out with this guy for,” Fries asked.
“Oh, we’re not hanging, really. Wonton’s a good kid. He just needs to be taught the ways of the world. He thinks he’s perfect.” Fries and Burger looked at the Little Wonton and laughed in unison.
“Perfect,” Fries said in disbelief. “Perfect is being deep fried in oil, being able to come in several sizes. Sometimes I’m seasoned, sometimes I’m curly, and I always come with something in a bun, like my pal, Burger. Do they call you a happy meal, my little yellow friend? I think not.”
“I’m golden brown,” said the little Wonton, “thank you very much, and I, too, am deep fried in oil. In the old country, I’m the perfect addition to any meal. Sometimes, when I’m around, they call it ‘Special.’ In the old country, we don’t need to call any particular meal happy because we know that all meals are happy. In the old country…”
“If you like the old country so much, why don’t you go back there, Mr. Perfect,” Fries said. Burger tried to stifle a laugh but couldn’t. The two shook their heads at Wonton and walked away arm in arm. Such a combo, those two.
So the lonely Little Wonton sat on his bed of seaweed, crying. Why had they come here to this land of Burgers and Fries? His father, the Steaming Hot and Sour Soup, had told them this was the land of opportunity and freedom. Seemed to the Little Wonton that this was a land where you weren’t so perfect unless you were just like everyone else.
The Little Wonton looked up to find a spongy piece of bread in front of him.
“Excuse me, My name’s Injera, and I couldn’t help but see that you needed a hug.”
The lonely Little Wonton wiped the tears away and scooted over so that Injera could share the seaweed. “I’m sorry if you’re offended by that but that’s just what I do. My job is to hug other foods. I feel like I have to say that. Since I’ve been here, I’ve found that not everyone likes to be hugged. It’s weird.”
“Yes,” the Little Wonton said, “Everyone likes to be wrapped in their own paper. There are even plates cut into squares so that nobody touches anybody else. No mingling allowed.”
“Well, that’s just silly. Where I come from, we like to have everything mixed together. Sometimes, I hug Egg, Lentil, and Chicken all at the same time. Sometimes I might hug Lettuce and Beans at the same time. We have a grand ol’ time together. It adds flavor to our lives,” Injera said.
“Really?” asked the Little Wonton.
“Really,” said Injera.
The two smiled and hugged.
And the Little Wonton wasn’t so lonely anymore.
Originally published December 10, 2002
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