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By Sunshine Laughter
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"And she's looking at it. She's giving it a stare... will she sniff it?"
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"The ponies at the table are drumming as hard as they can, it's First Meal As A Pony with Sunshine Laughter, and she is facing her first test, a big bowl of fresh green Equestrian hay, and.... is she? ... is she?"
Millie! I tried this stuff back when I was human. It tasted like... like bad. How can I be expected to...
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"Just sniff it. Seriously. Just do that much. Just give it a good sniff. For me.
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"Hurry up! We're getting tired, and I don't think this table can take much more!"
"Yeah! Jan's right! Just eat it already! My cannons are starting to ache!"
CLOPPIDA CLOPPIDA CLOPPIDA CLOPPIDA CLOPPIDA
Alright, alright... hay. Breakfast of Thoroughbreds. I can do this. SNIFF. Hmmm! Om nom nom...
"Wow, look at her go!"
"Finally we can stop drumming. Ow... my fetlocks hurt too!"
"Gosh, I know, and my cannons feel like somepony kicked me in them."
"Well, Sunshine, what do you think? Good, right?"
Um... nom om num... ah, well... I have to say I am ...ulp... amazed. Just amazed. I mean, as a human, this stuff was just... bad. But as a pony, well! How do I even describe it? It's... it's kind of the same, but... different, and I'm not sure how to say how it is different. I mean, it still smells like hay, and it kind of tastes like hay, but... it's that my brain says that hay is the best thing ever.
OK, I know how to put this, I think. You know that fifth flavor? That one that is made up of that chemical.... the Japanese made up the name for it?
"Umami? It's the taste of glutamates and nucleotides and stuff. All the savory things in food."
Yeah, that's it. Umami. Hay is like TOTAL umami now. It just... it's just like the best flavor ever. It's kind of sweet, but not sugary or anything, and there is this green, springtime, clean kind of freshness, and almost a little sort of lime quality to it, only it has total savoriness to it. I had a synthesteak once, real juicy, real tasty, and hay is better. It tastes like a happy spring day, being taken on an envirodome tour in kindergarten, you know, when they show the kids what Nature used to be like?"
"I lived in the favela, Sunshine. They didn't have tours to things like that. They didn't have kindergarten either."
Um, sorry Millie. Well, they did for me, and one time I got to go. The dome had grass growing, real grass, and dandelions, and it smelled wonderful. The air, the warmth... it was just so nice. When I saw the first holos of Equestria, that memory is what made me want to go there so bad. I figure Equestria must be like that all the time!
Anyway, folks out there in holocorder land, hay kind of tastes like that sort of 'springtime in the dome' smells like, only savory. Really, really savory. It's like my tongue can't get enough of it. I have to chew the stalks, or blades, or whatever, and the flavor just comes out and fills my mouth and it is just... sooo... good. I never thought I could feel this way about vegetable matter. Sweet, savory, kind of that carbohydrate thing going on too, so it is satisfying, and... there's this little tang in there. It's not spicy, exactly, but...
"Try a carrot! Try one. Here. Try this.'
Om nom, um... UM! Wow! Ok, now that kind of tastes spicy-sweet. That is so weird. I've had carrots here, but now... now as a pony... there is just so much depth. There is flavor there that I couldn't pick up on before. This is like some kind of snack-chip or something. Oh, wow. I thought hay was good but...
"Now alfalfa! Do the alfalfa!"
Ok, Ok, Jan, alfalfa next... whoa... that's really different from the hay. Like fancy oniony or garlicky stuff. No, not quite like that, but... Super rich. Like... extra umami and a lot more of the carbos in there. It tastes... almost decadent. I bet it's fattening, the way it tastes. If hay is... mashed potatoes... then alfalfa is... steak. Sort of. I've only ever had synthesteak anyway... woah, I can't eat meat ever again. No more vat-grown meat, not ever again. Huh. But then, I guess I don't mind, because this stuff...
"Oooh! Now try pie! You were so worried about that! Here, eat this. It's peach pie, your favorite. At least you really seemed to like it, remember?"
Oh, Millicent. Peach pie. I have to try this. Here goes. Om. Nom.... ohhhh.... OHHHHHH OHHH MY MUFFIN GLGLGHHHH....
"Is she going to be alright?"
"Sunshine? Sunshine? SUUUnnnnnSHHHiiine? Hello?"
Oh... oh my muffin... oh... just... gimme a moment, alright? Holy Celestia.... Holy Luna in the Garden of the Night. I... I just...
"I think she still likes pie as a pony."
"It seems safe to say."
"You're alright, right Sunshine?"
Yeah... yeah... I'm fine... I think. It's just.... wow. I mean... wow. I can't... I can't eat any more of that. It's just too much. Not right now. More hay. Nice, simple hay. Om. Om nom. Hay. Mmm...
"I think she blew a fuse or something."
"I had that reaction with brownies."
"What, the ones we had the other day, Goldenrod?"
"No.. No... it was before that. Almost a week ago, they had brownies then, too. The chocolate was just so... it was too much. I thought I was going to just keel over. It was the day of my conversion. I was almost afraid to eat the brownies again. It was easier this time. I guess it takes time to get used to having better senses."
"You know I didn't have that problem, not like that."
"Well, I am not saying I was not overwhelmed. I am just saying that it was something I felt I could handle, that's all."
"If you could handle it, then you weren't overwhelmed. I mean, not really. Because of what the word means, you know?"
"Well, yes. I concede that point but..."
Will you two... just... oh, my. I like hay. I like alfalfa. And I like peach pie, but maybe not right now. Not until I get used to this. It is just so... much.
OK, everypony out there, protip: when you go pony, everything is brighter, more colorful, and tastes and smells way better. So... take it slow, and take it easy, and nibble. The protip is nibble, especially pie. Hay is safe, and so is alfalfa, but pie is dangerous because it is gooder than good. I literally don't have the words. I have never experienced pie, ever before in my life, until this moment, today, right now. This was my very first pie. No other pie counts. That's all I can say about it.
I am actually afraid now, to try this apple here. There are thresholds of... pleasure, I guess... I mean, yes it was pleasure but... it was just so... intense... that it almost hurt, if you know what I mean. I... I guess what I am trying to say here is that being a pony in no way reduces the joy of food. I am betting that unless we burn calories a lot better than Earth life does, I am going to be a huge sphere in about a year from now. Food is just that good.
I was afraid, I was wrong, and I completely admit that.
That's kind of a running thing, isn't it?
Well, I've been willing to do this, to go pony, and I've tried to really go for it, jump in with all four legs and everything, as best I could, but I have been a little afraid, too.
"That's only understandable. It is total bodily transmogrification, after all."
That's very true, Jan. Total. Mind and body and everything. But... as scary as that seems, it really isn't as weird feeling as it's made out to be, and I think what worry I did have was... more than this deserved. Walking was easier than I thought it would be, and eating... I definitely haven't lost anything in that area. So far, I have not found a valid downside.
"There's a big one coming up."
Huh? What, Jan?
"You can only carry one thing at a time. Unless you have saddlebags, or can balance something on your back, we've only got one grip, which is our mouth. A little bit our tail. You can kind of carry light things with your tail. But... unless you've got a horn, like me - only I still can't float things well - you have use your mouth. And that means more trips, and more time to do anything."
"Yeah, that is true. I was with Aquamarine last night, and we tried playing chess. Putting all the pieces out and back was a bit of a chore, even with both of us, because we had to use our teeth, and it's one piece at a time... well, except for the one time Aqua managed to get two in one bite."
"Yeah! I got two pawns at the same time! it was cool! Goldenrod couldn't do it!"
"She's right, I couldn't. So that's a downside. Two hands are pretty useful. Of course if you sit, you can use your hooves, at least on larger things, but small things like chess pieces, no. And for carrying, you can't use your hooves, of course."
You can what, Jan?
"I can walk and use a hoof to carry something. Here, I'll show you with this cup. See, I just grab the cup in my fetlock, right? Now all you do is walk with three legs. It's. A. Little. Hoppy. But. It. Works. See?"
She did it. You have to admit, she did it.
"OK, OK, I admit it's possible. But if that cup was full, you would've spilled everywhere, Jan!"
"I am not saying it would work for a full-up cup of juice or anything. But it does work, and it is one more way to move things about."
Jan... I think it is kind of amazing. I mean, you're the only unicorn in our group, in the Breakfast Pony Club, and you are the one with the horn and all, yet you seem to have all the non-magical ways to carry things and move things down better than any of us, and we don't have horns. I mean, Millie, Goldenrod, Aquamarine, and Honeydrizzle are all earthponies, me and Samantha here are both pegasai, you are the only unicorn, and yet you've got all the moves. What's up with that? Did you study pony locomotion or something?
"Well... actually... it is because I am worried about my magical abilities. I am not kidding when I say I cannot use my horn well. Even my magic instructor is baffled. I still can't move anything beyond making a marble roll around. I haven't even lifted it up off the ground. It may be that... I just won't be very... capable... as a unicorn. So I figured I had better learn how to get by with what I can do."
"Oh, Jan, we never realized it was that serious!"
"No, we had no idea!. I mean I remember you mentioned that..."
"Hush. I'm sure it will work out, one way or another. Periwinkle, the magic teacher says there are some exercises I can try, and that there are other things too... and if I can't use my horn, well, I'm still a pony, and I can darn well use my own good hooves and teeth like anypony else. It's no big deal. I mean, yes, I would like to use magic, but... if that doesn't happen, well, then I'll just deal with it."
Well, that's something I've never heard about. Something new, for all of you out there. Apparently, occasionally, some newfoals may end up having some trouble accessing their special abilities. Who knows, I have wings, for all I know, maybe I won't be able to fly. I hadn't even thought of that. But then again, heights terrify the... cinnamon out of me, so... maybe that would actually be OK.
Then again, maybe it's only a temporary thing. All I know is I am impressed with the things you've worked out, Jan, and I think they are really helpful to know.
"Yes! Me too!"
"I didn't even think of the three-legged carrying thing."
"Well... Thank you. I just figure that I should have some options in case things don't work out for me... magically."
Is there anything we could do to help? I mean... I guess... Well, I guess I'm pretty useless, trying to help a unicorn, aren't I? Hey, if you need one of my feathers or anything...
"Feathers! For what?"
Um... I don't know. Don't they need stuff like that in magic?
"You're thinking of magical reagents, like in RPG's and in stories and stuff, Sunshine. I don't think unicorns need stuff like that."
Well.. I... Oh. Duh.
"Sunshine, your thought is appreciated. I assure you that if it turns out I need a pegasus feather, you will be the first pony I think of."
Thank you... Jan. Gah. Well, anyway, this was a wonderful lunch, in any case, huh?
"From the way you reacted to that pie, I'm jealous!"
"Ha ha ha!"
Yeah, well... that was some pretty amazing pie.
"You haven't tried your apple! You can't leave the table before you try the apple!"
Come on, Millie, I already said that...
"Yes! Breakfast Pony Club Rules! All First Meal As A Pony ponies have to try the apple before they leave!"
"Yeah! Jan's right! Breakfast Pony Rules!"
"Eat of the apple, little pony, or ne're the table you shall leave! Bwa-ha-ha!"
Goldenrod.... alright, fine. We have a class to get to, so I'll try the apple. Oh goodness. OK. I can do this.
"AP-PLE! AP-PLE! AP-PLE! AP-PLE!"
Swirls! No pressure, huh? Fine. Here goes. Om.
Oh.... mmmm.... oh.... you little.... muffin muffing... ahh...
"Hee hee hee hee!"
"Hah ha ha!"
"It's pretty amazing as a pony, isn't it?"
Ahh... oh, pony, oh.... mmmnnn... water... water... SLURP... ahhh... Yeah. Yeah, it's pretty amazing. I'll get used to all of this, right?
"Nope, not ever."
"Every single time. Just like this."
You have got to... you... you are just a bunch of naughty little ponies is what you are. Alright... the time is... oh, gosh, it's time for... what is the next class?
"General class, ponies only though... um... Basic Household Skills For Living. It teaches you how to do everyday things as a pony. Sounds like a must, to me, Sunshine."
It's certainly relevant, at least to me. Are we all going?
"I'm going... Aquamarine?"
"Of course, Golden. Always."
Jan, Sam, Honey?
"Yes. That class is on my list."
"As Millie says, it's a must."
"I go where Samantha goes."
Well then. I guess the Basic Household Skills class better prepare itself for the Breakfast Pony Club!
"YEAH!" "Yes!" "Absolutely!" "Whooo!"
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...so I just balance it on my back like... this? Come on, wings, just... WHOOPS! Heh! Um... good thing that's made of neoplastic. Sorry!
"Just try again. It's alright, that is what this class is for. EVERYPONY! Just keep practicing! If the bowl falls, just pick it right up, put it on your back, and keep trying to walk. Practice makes perfect!
Alright. Sunshine. Since this is your conversion day, maybe you would be better off not using your wings for this. Sometimes newfoal pegasai can have control issues, such as that little twitch. Remember, you did not grow up with wings. You need to get used to having them just as if you were a foal. As far as your wings are concerned, you are in your foalhood right now. So just concentrate on carrying the bowl normally, for now. Alright?"
Yes, Missus Wheatgrass. It's just that it seems like I could just make a kind of basket out of them, you know?
"Some pegasai do exactly that. You are right! But you are completely new, Sunshine. This is the first day of your life as a pony. There is no need to rush things. As I understand it, human lives are fairly short. As a pony you will have many, many decades to do anything you want to do. For now, you have the time to just relax, and try carrying a bowl on your back like any other pony."
I... I understand. I'll try to keep my wings out of it for now.
"Look, Sunshine, see, cradle the bowl just before your croup."
Um... I see, Millie. Right there, huh? That's the croup?
"There's a little dip there, where it's kind of flat. Try it."
OK... I can do this. There! See?
"Very good, Sunshine. Now try walking while keeping the bowl still."
OK.... alright... it's kind of hard to keep everything still... hey, I think I've got it! YES! FINALLY! HEY! MILLIE, LOO... oops. Just a minute. Excuse me. Sorry, it rolled under.... sorry. Sorry.
"Hee hee hee! Oh, Sunshine!"
I can do this. OK. Ick ih uh. There. It's on my back. Millie, what am I doing wrong here?
"Well... you have to walk differently to carry things. Try going really slowly at first, and concentrate only on keeping your back still and level. No bouncing, no rocking. It's kind of like balancing something on your head, only easier."
If you say so. Alright, real slowly, real careful-like. Wow, I'd hate to imagine this empty bowl filled with hot soup or something. But I guess that's what real ponies with real jobs carry and do, huh? Easy, easy... yeah... that's it. That's doing it. It's getting easier, Millie. Alright, a little faster now, maybe. Yeah, I'm doing it now...
"Careful! You have to watch where you're going too, you know!"
I'm sorry. I am so sorry, Goldenrod. It's my first day... I am so clumsy.
"I'm sorry, Sunshine. I forgot."
You forgot... cool! That's kind of a compliment, actually. Cool. Here, I'll put your bowl back. There.
"Thank you, Sunshine!"
Alright. One more time. Where'd my bowl roll too. Oh! Excuse me, my bowl rolled....
"EVERYPONY! I think that is enough for now of that. Take your bowls and place them in the rack where you found them and assemble in the middle of the room!"
I found it! Oh, we're not doing carrying now.
"No, I think it's a new lesson, Sunshine."
"Alright, Everypony. That's it, all together in one big circle. Yes, all around me, side by side. That's it. Now... let me bring this over.... there. A nice big box filled with all sorts of things. We have a suitcase with a nice red handle.... here. No, just let it be for the moment. And here's a broom... yes, you just hold it up, like that. Perfect. And for you I have a nice wooden spoon. Just take it in your teeth. Perfect. And finally, a tray, with a cup on it. You take that... yes, right in your mouth, just by the edge. Good!
Now, what we are going to be doing is passing practice. We'll be passing these four objects, the case, the broom, the spoon and the tray with the cup around to your left. NO! STOP! Not yet! When I tell you to, alright? Now the goal is to start out really slowly. Take. Your. Time. We'll go faster later, and I will tell you when. But for now, we will just be passing the objects to each other carefully, and try to keep them going around the circle. That's all we need to do.
Now I need you to concentrate on doing your best to do it carefully, alright? This isn't a contest, and we are not trying to beat any records or prove anything other than that we can do this smoothly and well, understood?
Alright. Any questions?"
I kind of have one!
Um... Missus Wheatgrass... I... I'm not sure how to put this, but... isn't it... dangerous... to pass things from mouth to mouth like that? I mean Hep Z, Contact Syphilis, Viral Cancer, Nanophage....
"None of that is an issue for Equestrians, Sunshine. You don't have to worry. Ponies are immune to all human world diseases, and even in Equestria there are only a very few illnesses known, none of which are dangerous, and all of which are fairly rare.
CLASS? This is something I should probably make clear. All the things you've been afraid of as humans no longer apply for you. As citizens of Equestria, you are naturally protected from all earthly diseases. Ponies do not suffer the way Earth creatures do, and all of you in this class are ponies now. It is your natural and native state to be free from disease, and protected from sickness.
You need not fear each others touch, contact, or bodily fluids. There are no dangers in these things for Equestrians. Such concerns are the province of human creatures, not us. Is that clear?"
"You mentioned the few illnesses that Equestrians do get. What are they?"
"Well, it isn't really part of this class but... there is Sniffles, something not entirely unlike your human cold. It is mild but uncomfortable, and does not last more than a day or two. It is probably the most common illness, and is usually associated with extreme exposure or exhaustion. Even less common are things like Hay Fever, The Trots, and..."
"Ponies get Hay Fever?"
"If I understand things correctly, it is not the same as the allergic illness humans get, Millicent. It is also exceptionally rare. I merely listed it to answer Jan."
So basically, we aren't going to die or anything from passing these things mouth to mouth. That's the basic concern here.
"No. Nopony will get sick or... die... from this activity. It is something you will need to get used to in your new lives. Ponies have mouths and hooves, and unless you are a unicorn, everything you used to do with hands will be done with your mouth or your hooves, and of the two, the most common will be your mouth. You must shed your human attitudes about this, which, as I understand, are quite negative.
This is actually part of what this exercise is for. It is to build maxilofacial dexterity, of course. But it is also to get you used to the fact that mouth-to-mouth transfer of tools, objects, even food items is normal and natural for Equestrians. It is a exercise designed to help you get over your human backgrounds as newfoals, and embrace your proper, Equestrian natures.
Alright. Are we clear on what needs to be done, and on the fact that for us it is safe and normal?"
"Yes!" "Yeah!" "I think so!" "OK!" "Yes, Missus Wheatgrass!" "YUPPERS!" "Yes!"
OK! Wow. I have to say, Millie, this is kind of weird for m....
Here comes the case. Oh gosh. Oh GLG.... Mmmm... Gah.... there you go.... that was kind of bulky.... and now the broom.... GLAH...GLG... Gah... that was unwieldy, huh?
"Yeah, it kind of was. Oh, look out, Sunshine, here comes the spoon!"
That should be easy, it's the tray I'm worried ab.... GLMMM.... MMn-Mnn.... Gah! Heh! The spoon is really easy. Oh Luna, here comes the tray, easy, easy... NGAH! GRRUMPH...GLURG.... GAFFFUL... GAFFULL!... GAH! Easy, Millie, it's tougher than it looks.... whoo... you did it. Easier than me. Huh.
"I've been a pony longer, Sunshine. Just doing anything is practice."
Ah... well, I guess that makes sense. Here they come again... GLG! MMnnnnn NNnnn....GAH! That case is just a pain I.... The broom... GLK! Mnnn.... NGH... GAH! Alright, better, I felt more in contro.....UMN...GAH! Spoon, love the spoon, it's easy... uh oh... GRRUMPH...GLURG.... GAFFFUL... GAFFULL!... GAH! That tray... goodness...
What? Not yet! The case is... GLG! MMnnnnn NNnnn....GAH! Whoa! It's just GLK! Mnnn.... NGH... GAH! That broom is... UMN...GAH! Yay, Spoon... Oh no... GRRUMPH...GLURG.... GAFFFUL... GAFFULL!... GAH! I hate that tray!
THE HAY??!! GLG! MMnnnnn NNnnn....GAH! You have got to be GLK! Mnnn.... NGH... GAH! Now wait a darn UMN...GAH! Spoon, how I love you GRRUMPH...GLURG.... GAFFFUL... GAFFULL!... GAH! That is just crazy, with the tray it's...
Oh, give me a GLG! MMnnnnn NNnnn....GAH! No Muffin way GLK! Mnnn.... NGH... GAH! Spoon... UMN...GAH! Oh sweet Celest... GRRUMPH...GLURG.... GAFFFUL... GAFFULL...
CRASHHHH CLIK CLOK CLICK CLATTER CLATTER CLAK
"Hah hah hah!" "Heee heee hee hee!" "Ah hah hah!" "Hooooo!"
Hee hee hee... oh, pony... hee hee... SORRY EVERYPONY!
"Hah hah hah hee hee!"
"VERY GOOD, class! Very good! See? Wasn't that fun? That's what we ponies do all the time in life, and it's no big deal, and it's even great fun. Remember that. Alright! SETTLE DOWN! Settle down now. That's it for today. Pick up the Passing Practice objects and put them in the box. That's it."
"Wow that was FUN, wasn't it Sunshine?"
Yeah! It really was. I really liked this class!
"I almost thought you had it there, until the tray dropped!"
Well, it is my first day, Jan...
"No, you misunderstand. I thought you were doing really well. I thought you were going to make it."
Oh... oh. OK. I sure didn't. But, thank you Jan.
"CLASS? I hope you enjoyed Basic Household Skills. Next time we will try performing actual tasks you will be doing in your lives as ponies. Until then, please try to practice carrying, balancing, holding and passing objects as much as you can. Every moment you practice means better ability in everything you do. CLASS DISMISSED!"
Um... Missus Wheatgrass?
I just wanted to say... I had fun, and I learned a lot. Thank you.
"You're very welcome, Sunshine. And congratulations on your Conversion Day, too."
Thank you! Come on, Millie, let's go back to our room and wait for the dinner gong. No, on second thought, I need to go to the little ponies room again. Sorry. I kind of got excited during the passing things lesson.
"That's OK, Sunshine. I have to go too. I almost feel like a shower, after all of that. Do you think we have time?"
Hmmm... we have an hour before the dinner gong... This is my first day, though, and... I'm worried about being able to towel off. And I don't know how to even wash myself.
"I'll help. And if it takes too long, I'll just ask for help from the staff. It's OK. I needed help getting dry myself before. They're used to that. Come on! Let's go shower before dinner!"
Sure, alright. Oh! Remind me to take off the holocorder. Make sure I do. I don't think I'm supposed to get it wet, alright?
"Oh, yes. That's a point. Don't worry, we'll remember."
You know, hanging it around my neck was a brill idea, Millie. I barely noticed it, well except if I bend down too low.
"Thanks! Alright now, shower time!"