Me're Not Mmmminto Mmmmadpoles
Seven o'clock at night is homework hour in Rotten House, our dorm. So I knew where to find all my friends: downstairs in the Commons Room—our living room—watching TV.
We don't do our homework at night. We do it in the five minutes before class starts in the morning. That way, it's still fresh in our minds.
That leaves more time for important things like watching TV, playing video games, and snapping your fingers in your friends' faces to make them flinch.
You probably do your homework at home. But we don't go home, because Rotten School is a boarding school. That means we live here.
I'm Bernie Bridges. I bet you know me because I'm in the Fourth Grader Hall of Fame.
I know. I know. There is no Fourth Grader Hall of Fame.
But if there was, I'd be in it.
I don't like to brag, but I'm the dude who knows how to get the most out of fourth grade.
The most money, that is.
Tonight I was planning a special sale of awesome T-shirts. I piled the shirts up on a cart and wheeled them into the Commons Room.
I knew my buddies would be fighting over them, begging me to let them each buy four or five shirts.
"All right. Line up, dudes!" I shouted. I wheeled my cart in front of the TV.
All my Rotten House pals were there. Feenman, Crench, Belzer, Chipmunk, Beast, Nosebleed . . .
I rubbed my hands together. I was already counting my money.
"Listen up, guys," I said. "Did you know it's a holiday? It's Lucky T-Shirt Day. And every shirt I have on this cart is a lucky shirt!"
"Bernie, you're blocking the TV," Crench said.
"You can't watch TV while I'm having this special sale," I said. "Half off every T-shirt! Get up, dudes. Check 'em out!"
"Bernie, you're blocking the TV," Feenman said.
"Guys, you don't understand," I said. "I've got your favorites here. Look! Tweenage Mutant Ninja Tadpoles shirts. Only five dollars!"
I grabbed Crench by the shoulders and tried to hoist him out of his chair. But he plopped right back down. "Bernie, I can't see the TV."
"Up. Up! Everyone up!" I shouted, clapping my hands. "I've got the Tadpoles, dudes! I know you're totally into Tweenage Mutant Ninja Tadpoles."
They stared at the screen.
My friend Beast opened his mouth wide and let out a deafening burp. It lasted about two minutes. Big chunks of food flew from his mouth and sprayed the room.
Normally, a burp that good would make my pals laugh for hours.
Tonight they stared at the TV screen. No one even blinked.
"Okay, okay," I said. "You drive a hard bargain. You can have the shirts for four-fifty each!"
I held up a T-shirt."Look, dudes. You can wear your favorite Tadpole. Hey—who wants Herman? I've got Herman shirts. Who wants Murray? Sidney? Melvin? Melvin is your hero—right, Feenman?"
Feenman stared at the TV.
"Here's a winner," I said, pulling a shirt from the bottom of the pile. "This shirt has all twenty-four Tadpoles on it! Even Myron, the Shy Tadpole. Check it out!"
Then . . . more silence.
Finally my friend Nosebleed spoke up. "Mernie, me're not mmmminto mmmmadpoles," he said.
"Huh? Nosebleed, what language are you speaking?" I asked.
"MmmmI'm mmmeaking English," he said. "I mmmave ummmph tissues stuffed in mmmmy nose. I mmmmhave a nosebleed."
Poor guy. Everything gives him a nosebleed. Tying his shoes gives him a nosebleed! When the sun sets, it gives him a nosebleed!
"Bernie, Nosebleed was trying to tell you something," Feenman said. "We're not into the Tadpoles anymore. Too babyish! We're into a new show."
"Hel-lo?" I cried. "A new show? You, traitors! I've got three dozen shirts with these slimy Tadpoles on them!"
Feenman shrugged. "Babyish."
"Okay, tell me," I said through gritted teeth. "What show are you traitors watching now?"
"We'll give you a hint," Crench said.
And they all chimed in at once, singing . . .
Bluck bluck bluck bluck bluck bluck bluck bluck bluck bluck bluck bluck.