Why Mints are Bossy
The TV room smelled of sweat, agony, and food. There were gray walls, a crumb-filled forest green carpet, and a bear head snarling ferociously at the occupant of the room. A dark-haired girl named AJ sat cross-legged on the floor, a black Wii remote gripped tightly in her right hand. She leaned intently toward the flat screen TV in front of her, a wild look in her eyes as she swung her remote, making the green-clad warrior on the TV wave his sword.
“Hiyah!” she shouted, grinning savagely as her avatar ripped through hoards of enemies. “The pigs don’t stand a chance,” AJ cackled. Indeed, there were piles of piggy corpses littering the digital ground behind her character.
Out of habit, she reached for the plastic box of powdery, sweet, melt-on-the-tongue dinner mints that was lying on the carpet beside her. Slaying inferior swine with one exceptionally skilled hand, she rifled through the mint-filled container with the other. Out from the depths of that sugar-coated box, AJ withdrew a tiny square mint, no bigger than her middle finger’s nail. It was light pink in color, like the hue of a delicate ballerina’s dancing slipper. With her eyes glued to the screen, the girl raised her hand (the one that was clutching the mint, of course; why would she eat a Wii remote?) to her mouth and prepared to feast. Sugary blood would be shed.
Suddenly, a squeaky, high-pitched voice shrieked, “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!”
AJ jumped and glanced around nervously, pausing her video game. Who had made that sound? Either someone else was in the room or all of that video gaming was messing with her head. She wouldn’t be the first in her family to go bonkers from gaming. Her older brother often claimed to be hearing music from Smash Bros. when there was no game in the area to play the sound.
“Hello?” she called timidly. When there was no response, she slowly turned back to her game.
AJ was about to place the dinner mint in her mouth when the disembodied voice cried, “Please don’t eat me! If you let me go, I promise I’ll help you sometime in the future!”
She paused the game again and glared angrily around the room. “Who are you? Why are you doing this?” she snapped at thin air.
Randomly, the video game she was playing inexplicably unpaused itself. In her haste to murder the wild pigs that were charging her avatar, AJ dropped the pink dinner mint, and the odd, shrill voice was all but forgotten . . .
The pink dinner mint had had a close encounter with death, and it was a miracle that he had survived. Or was it? Was it truly just luck that had saved him from the cavernous mouth of the human girl? As some may have guessed, it was the mint’s own smarts and cunning that had enabled him to escape. His plan, which was rather ingenious, I must admit, had been thought up in roughly two seconds.
Step one of the Ingenious Plan: yell something. Humans do not expect to hear voices when there are no other humans in the room.
Step two of the Ingenious Plan: yell again. He needed to distract the human long enough to unpause her game.
Step three of the Ingenious Plan: use telekinesis to press the button on the girl’s Wii remote, thus unpausing her game. Hopefully, she would be so caught up in fumbling for the gaming device that Minty (for that was his name) would be able to slip away unnoticed.
Luckily, Minty’s brilliant plan had worked splendidly, and while the human girl was lunging wildly for her controller, he had slipped out of her grasp. Then he had scampered across the carpet, and was currently cowering beneath the recliner.
He stayed underneath the chair for several weeks, watching AJ with his keen little eyes. “I promised to help her,” he repeated to himself, “and I will. Mint’s promise, scout’s honor, blah blah blah.” So he hid beneath the chair, searching for the right time to burst out and help the human.
Time went by, and Minty had still not aided the child. But he had sworn to help her, so he would be her little minty guardian angel, responding to any plea for help that she might utter.
Imagine his enormous relief when AJ suddenly cried out in pain, pausing her video game and dropping the remote.
What’s this? Minty wondered hopefully, which may seem rather cruel to you, dear reader. But in reality, he had been away from his people — the sweet tribe of the Dinner Mints — for a great deal of time, and only when he assisted the human would he be able to return. And if the girl was injured, well, that meant he could help her, thus enabling him to be reunited with his tribe.
The light pink mint peeked out from under the beige leather chair, watching AJ as she slumped against the couch, whimpering pitifully. She was clutching her shoulder, her face scrunched up in pain. Although Minty was terrified of the human (she had tried to devour him, after all), he hopped toward her bravely.
“I — I can help,” he called up to her, his voice tiny and shaky. “Let me see your shoulder.”
AJ fixed scared eyes on Minty. “You can talk?” she breathed in disbelief. She had played too many fantasy video games to be surprised by anything, including a mint that was alive.
“Yes,” he squeaked.
AJ didn’t know how the wee mint could help her, but she willingly shifted her body so that her injured shoulder was facing him.
Minty took a deep breath and leapt into the air, zooming toward her. “Falcon . . . PUNCH!” he screamed at the top of his lungs. He slammed into AJ’s shoulder with so much force that it was shoved back into its socket.
“Ow!” she shrieked. “Ow, that hurt!” Then she rolled it tenderly, and was surprised to find that it didn’t hurt as much as it had previously. “But, I think you fixed it. So, uh, thanks, Mr. . . .?”
“Minty,” he supplied.
“OK, Mr. Minty. Thank you.”
Minty squared his shoulders, lifted his chin, and stared straight into the savage eyes of the beast. (I might add that he was a tad dramatic — AJ was no beast, and there was no savagery in her eyes.) “Miss,” he shouted, “I’m afraid that I need to take you into custody.”
AJ looked confused for a moment, and then she snorted. “Yeah, right. And why would I go with you? I could just walk out of this room, and you wouldn’t be able to stop me. So why, I ask, why would I allow you to take me into custody?”
Minty flexed his arms nonchalantly. “In case you’ve forgotten,” he announced calmly, “I had the power to slam your shoulder back into its socket. You don’t think I could hurt you if it was necessary?”
She gulped, eyeing Mr. Minty warily. He was perfectly capable of injuring her. Perhaps if she went with him without protesting, he would spare her. “OK,” AJ told him nervously, giving in. “I’m now in your custody, o mighty Mr. Minty.”
He made an adorable purring sound of satisfaction. Then Minty jumped around AJ, commanding, “Up! Up! Up on your feet, girl!” When she did as he had demanded, he nudged against her heels, urging her forward.
AJ stumbled forward, guided by the forceful pressure of Minty leaning against her heels.
He steered her behind the chair he had hidden under, where a large population of dinner mints were mingling. They were all different shades of pastel: pale yellow, green, the occasional white one, and light pink mints, like Minty was himself.
When the mints saw AJ, a dreadful human towering over them, they began to scream. Running around in frenzied circles, shrieking their heads off, sobbing, “We’re all going to die!”
If you look up the word “chaos,” or “panic,” you will likely find an image of this wild scene.
“Calm down!” bellowed Minty, jumping up onto AJ’s foot so the mints could see him. “Calm down. The human is under control. I repeat, the human is under control.”
Gradually, the mints stopped squealing in fear and gathered around Minty and the strange human. She was a curious sight, they thought, with all that dark hair of hers.
Once Minty had everyone’s attention, he cleared his throat. “Elder Mints, if you would please conduct a trial? This human” — he spat the word, like it left a bad taste in his mouth — “is charged with murdering many of our own friends and family! I myself was almost crushed between her nasty teeth.”
Gasps of horror rippled through the crowd of nervous mints. “No!” one shouted. “The human must not be allowed to get away with this horrific crime!” The mint turned to the Elders. “Start the trial!”
The Elder Mints, the wisest of the sugary species, placed powdered white wigs on their heads. “Hear ye, hear ye!” one of them rasped, a wrinkly green Elder named Edgar. His voice was dry and flat, as thin as a faint breeze. “The trial is underway.”
Adjusting his lopsided wig, a white mint by the name of Marlin asked, “What do you have to say for yourself, human? You have committed a ghastly crime. Surely murder is frowned upon in human society?”
“I have a name,” the girl snapped disrespectfully. “It’s AJ. And, no, humans don’t smile when someone is murdered. Look, mints, I didn’t know you were alive, OK? If I had, I wouldn’t have eaten you.”
“But you did eat us!” wailed a mint from the crowd.
AJ curled her hands in fists.
Minty scrambled down AJ’s foot and bowed to the Elders. “May I speak, wise Elder Mints?”
“Not only has this girl — OJ, was it? — murdered mints, but she has kidnapped them as well. I was plucked from my home one day and shoved into a box that was filled with my kin. She put a lid on the box . . . we were starving, suffocating . . . Eventually, she took the lid off, and we thought we were going to be free. But then she reached in, and with her fat human fingers, extracted a handful of mints! I could hear them screaming as she raised them to her mouth. And then . . .” Minty sighed dramatically. Everybody leaned in, horrified at Minty’s tale, yet also eager to learn what would happen next.
“She ate them,” he finished darkly.
The mints started booing, chucking tomatoes at AJ. They bounced harmlessly off her shins.
“I watched them go,” Minty continued. “When there were only a few mints left in the box, she grabbed me, but I had a plan. I used the Ingenious Plan that I had plotted on the spur of the moment, and when she was distracted, I slipped from her deathly grip. I waited until the time was right before bringing the human in to face her doom.”
The mass cheered, chanting, “Minty! Minty! Minty!”
One of the Elders smacked a wooden hammer against the ground. “We have heard from both sides! Tell me, mints, who is guilty? Is it the human, AJ, a ruthless murderer and a kidnapper? Or is it Minty, escape artist extraordinaire, who has brought this villain to our home so that we may judge her?”
“AJ!” the crowd called energetically. “The human is guilty! Boo!”
The Elder Mints huddled together. “What say you, fellow Elders?” Edgar inquired.
“We agree with the crowd!” they told Edgar in sync. “The human is guilty.”
They broke up the huddle, and Marlin strode up to Minty and AJ. He held the wooden hammer aloft. “I shall bring this hammer of judgement down upon whoever is guilty!” he proclaimed theatrically.
The crowd hushed, waiting in absolute silence.
The Elder Mint brought the hammer down on AJ’s toe.
The mints erupted into cheers, while AJ hopped up and down, holding her throbbing toe.
“And now, for the sentence!” shouted Edgar. “AJ, human from the planet Earth, the Elder Mints of the great and powerful land of Behind-the-Chair hereby sentence you to serve the mints for the rest of your life, punishable by death!”
And so AJ became the first person to ever suffer the fate of being enslaved forever to the mints. She served them faithfully (although there were plenty of complaints on her part) until she died of old person disease. In honor of their deceased slave, they all took up video gaming as a hobby. They also created National AJ Remembrance Day.
If you have ever wondered why dinner mints always seem to be silently bossing you around, it is because they once had a human servant named AJ.