"On your way home," she says, "you have to stop and get me some red face paint. I need it for tomorrow."
It is almost 8 p.m. Despite the breathtaking ability I have demonstrated in School Spirit Weeks past, I am doubtful about my ability to procure face paint at this hour. I prepare her to be disappointed. "I really don't see how I am going to be able to find face paint tonight," I say.
But you cannot match a fifth-grade girl for willpower and resourcefulness. Particularly when something as critical as winning the Class Displaying the Greatest Square Footage of School Color contest is at stake.
As the most competitive girl in the most competitive class, she has no intention of losing out to any fourth graders. She has prepared for contingencies.
"Okay," she says. "I found a recipe on the Internet for making your own face paint. All I need is solid shortening and red food color."
I call her from Walgreens a half hour later. "They don't have any red food coloring," I say.
The girl is unfazed. She has a plan C.
"That's okay," she says. "I looked up how to make red food coloring. Bring home some beets."
"And if I can't find beets?" I ask her. "I suppose you know how to make beets?"
"From seeds," she says.
Luckily, I found the food coloring. Here's the recipe:
Last Minute Face Paint for School Spirit Emergencies
1 and 1/2 tablespoon solid shortening
3 tablespoons cornstarch
a bit of water, if needed to thin mixture
Photo: Results may vary