Shannon was so mad that she tried counting backwards to stop from shouting in the classroom. Normally she was a very placid little girl and she hated drama of any sort because it was so outdated and unnecessary.
Her best friend Tiffany was staring in disbelief at the bulletin board that posted the standings of the cupcake tasting contest in their home economics class. Tiffany's mom did not send any cupcakes this year because she was too busy working at a real estate office downtown to add some much-needed income to the flagging finances of their five member family. Tiffany's father had been laid-off from his job with the bank because they had been bought out by a much larger bank and her father was considered an unnecessary expense that was no longer needed. Shannon felt sorry for Mr. Anderson but she didn't see anything wrong with Mrs. Anderson working in a job that she liked very much.
The list of cupcake bakers was only about 10 entries this year and Shannon's mom was one of them. In Shannon's opinion, her mom made the best chocolate chip cupcakes in the whole wide world. She had been eating them way back as far as she could remember. Last year, her mom had won 3rd place in the baking contest for the 5th grade and this year, she was certain her mom had a chance of winning 1st place for her delicious chocolate chip cupcakes in the 6th grade.
Then, she saw the results posted on the bulletin board and suddenly she was hopping mad.
There, right down at the bottom of the list was her mom's name. She had come in 10th and last place in the baked cupcakes contest even below Mrs. Goodinsky's sour cream cupcakes that tasted like left over yogurt.
Shannon felt that this was totally unacceptable.
She saw her best friend Tiffany looking over at her with a pitying look on her face and she felt completely mortified at the results of the contest. The first place mention had gone to Pamela Downright's mom who was a teacher in the pre-school classes. She had eaten some of those pumpkin cupcakes with the overly sweet icing and didn't think they stood a chance against her mom's chocolate chip cupcakes.
Before this disturbing development, Shannon had no interest in the judging criteria because she figured it would be simply a matter of "taste" to decide the winner. She knew there had to be a reason for her mom's cupcakes to be at the bottom of the heap when she was so certain they should be right up at the very top.
After she had calmed down and dumped all her frustrations out on her best friend Tiffany, she felt a lot better and wanted to find out for herself why this amazing set of circumstances were now in place. She had even gone into the girl's bathroom and sat in the stall so she could pinch her arm and make sure she was not dreaming a terrible nightmare.
When she stayed after class, she approached Mrs. Johnson, her home economics teacher and asked her in her most polite tone of voice possible exactly how the selection was made. She was surprised that Mrs. Johnson was suddenly defensive on that subject and started asking Shannon the reasons why she was asking that question. All of a sudden, it was Shannon being interrogated instead of the other way around.
When she was finally able to get a word in edgewise much later, Shannon was told that the selections were made on the basis of not only taste, but on appearance, recipe ingredients, and overall presentation, whatever that was.
She found out that her mom's cupcakes had actually won in the "taste" category but had low scores in both the recipe ingredients and the overall presentation. A little more digging into the circumstances of the judging revealed to her that her mom was the only one of the entrants that was a "stay-at-home" mom with her main efforts at creating a home for her four children and her over-worked husband. Shannon was a little suspicious but thought it unlikely that the judges who were all teachers in the school would be biased against her mom because she was basically a home-maker and did not work outside of the home. Tiffany told her that her mom was not allowed to judge in the competition because she no longer did any substitute teaching in the district. Tiffany's mom had told her that this was the first year they were selecting winners based on such things as use of low-calorie sweeteners and gluten free fillers.