THE SKINNY: Senior behind the gossip curve recounts ‘sugar bug’ sojourns, peanut butter perils

(Photo used by permission of Sonja Hansen)
The Hansens take a boat ride around Maui in 2003.

Every summer the seniors are required by their college counselor to fill out a questionnaire and write a reflective essay to gear them up for the fast-approaching college application process. Of course, every single senior works tirelessly on crafting their essay all summer and never waits until the weekend before the first day of school to get started…

One of the questionnaire’s requirements is that students list three personal qualities and back them up with specific anecdotes. Piece of cake. I’m stunningly gorgeous, unbelievably athletic and brilliant both in and out of the classroom. Done. Now all we have to do is wait for those acceptance letters to roll in.  

Okay, fine. I have a fatal flaw: I’m the last to know everything.

I joke that gossip usually gets around to me about a month after everyone else, and there’s an element of truth in that statement. I’m always one step behind. Sometimes my ignorance gets a little problematic, especially when I’m the editor-in-chief of the newspaper and am supposed to have my finger on the pulse. At least I’m always learning!

I was pretty young the first time I realized that I’m blissfully unaware. My family was hosting a party, and it was after dinner. I made my way to the kitchen because it was dessert time.

(Photo used by permission of Sonja Hansen)
At their brother Chris’s birthday party, senior Sonja Hansen and her sister junior Bianca eat cake in their kitchen. Sonja was 4 years old at the time and Bianca was almost 3.

Anyone who has visited my house knows that dessert is not a meal – it’s an event. One thing my parents are very good at is spoiling kids with goodies and getting them hyped up on sugar, so our house is basically made of sweets. It’s a wonder I’ve made it this far without developing diabetes.

Anyway, I chose to have ice cream that night. So I brought out a carton of ice cream from the freezer, placed it in the microwave and waited. When it was done, I grabbed a spoon and started eating.

A couple minutes later, a family friend came up to me and watched me eat my ice cream out of the carton.

“You get that from your dad, don’t you?” he said, referring to my way of eating ice cream. “Gross.”

It took me a couple minutes to internalize what he’d said, but I soon discovered that the majority of the population does not eat their ice cream straight out of the container. It would take a little longer for me to find out that most people don’t put their ice cream in the microwave to soften it. Mind blowing!

Several months later, I had my first sleepover. It was a Saturday night. The only reason I remember that it was a Saturday night was because it was a weekend, so we didn’t have to brush our teeth. When my friend went to get ready for bed and brought out a tooth brush from her bag, I laughed.

(Photo used by permission of Hansen)
Senior Sonja Hansen drinks hot chocolate in her family’s hotel room in San Francisco during the family’s annual trip to see “The Nutcracker.”

“It’s the weekend! There are no sugar bugs, so you don’t need to brush your teeth!” I explained to my friend.

I’m surprised my friend didn’t call her parents and ask to get picked up.

My sister and I thought that “sugar bugs” were microscopic insects that caused cavities, but for an unknown reason they posed no threat on the weekends, so our parents let us skip brushing our teeth.

When I finally went to the dentist for the first time, I learned that “sugar bugs” are not real and that I had to start brushing daily.

But one of the worst revelations I ever had occurred when I was just 5 or 6 years old. I only vaguely remember the event, so most of the details come from my mom.

It was lunchtime, so my mom asked my sister and me what we would like to eat. We chose peanut butter sandwiches. At some point while we were waiting, I looked over at my mom with wide eyes and an uncomfortable grimace.

“Mom!” I shouted. “What is peanut butter made of?!”

My mom, my sister and I had a code word for male genitalia. It was “peanut.” You can do the math. My mom assured us that we were eating a different kind of nut, like cashews and almonds, before we were psychologically scarred for life.

So what quality honestly describes me? Even after all of these years, I guess I feel a little “clueless” more often than not.

If nobody would share this with the College Board, that would be great. Thanks.

—By Sonja Hansen

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