*** Newfane Middle School Newsletter: May 31st Bus Drivers and Cafeteria Monitors: Parents, remember all the hard work that goes into your child’s education beyond the classroom. Thanks to Judy Taylor and Ethel Morton for all their efforts in the cafeteria. Also a special thanks goes to bus driver Beverly Snipe for constant bravery in the face of chaos.
Seventh Grade Fieldtrip (Principal’s Note): Regarding the incident which occurred during the seventh grade field trip to Johnson Farms and Perry’s Ice Cream Factory on May 29: While no one was harmed or injured during the incident, I offer my official apologies to all the parents whose children were involved. Money will be provided for any damaged clothing. Please contact Secretary Daisy Lynch in the main office for help. ***
I admit it. I ruined the fieldtrip. It’s not like a secret or anything, given the fact that it happened in front of every single kid in the seventh grade, not to mention two teachers and a bus driver. Also, a few of my so-called friends took pictures with their phones. So, I guarantee there’s a video of the biggest mistake of my life floating around the Internet right now. Instead of starting the summer playing basketball, I’m grounded for the next two weeks. I’m the laughingstock of the school. Sharon Anderson will never speak to me again. Come September, I’ll be the only guy in the eighth grade who still doesn’t have a girlfriend. My whole summer is ruined.
It may sound like I’m exaggerating, but what I did was horrifying and we live in a small town. There are only twelve kids in my class right now, and those are the same twelve kids who have been with me since kindergarten. To be honest, there are fifteen of us, but three of those kids are Karen, Sharon, and Erin, the triplets. Up until a few weeks ago, I counted them as one person.
I should blame the fieldtrip disaster on Cody, since he’s the one who started the whole girlfriend project in the first place. He said, “Marvin, we have to act fast. Next year we’ll be in eighth grade. The eighth graders hold the homecoming dance the first week of school. We can’t go to the dance without dates.”
I shrugged. Cody McCall is my best friend, but he’s been girl crazy ever since kindergarten. I tend to ignore him when he talks like this and remind him it’s much more fun to play a game of hoops with the guys than hang out with a bunch of giggling girls all day. I was about to say exactly that, but then my friend Dan chimed in.
I always try to listen closely to Dan because he doesn’t run his mouth all the time like I do. When he says something, it’s usually important. “Cody’s right, Marvin,” Dan said. “Really?” I raised my eyebrows. “Who are you going to ask out then?”
“This girl Maggie. She goes to school at St. Joes,” Dan shrugged like it was no big deal.
“You’ve got to find someone, Marvin. My older brother Jeff is going to graduate high school next year and he’s been going with his girlfriend since they were in sixth grade. He says only losers don’t have girlfriends.”
“Yeah,” Cody laughed. “Like those guys who hang out alone smoking under the bleachers during football games.” He elbowed me in the ribs, “You don’t want to turn out like one of them, do you, Marvin?”
“Quit it,” I punched his shoulder.
“They never have any fun,” Dan insisted. “According to Jeff, no girl in town will touch them with a ten foot pole. Look,” he turned and showed me a picture on his phone of a guy with greasy hair and a ripped shirt. Above his face it said, “Loser.” Underneath was written, “No girl. No job. No car. No life.”
I tried to laugh along with them, but I couldn’t help but wonder whether Dan was right. I didn’t want to become like those guys. They’re always getting into trouble, and not the little scrapes I find myself getting into. I mean real trouble with police and jail and everything. It’s the kind of stuff our school bully Max Zittelli will probably be doing in a few years.
I tried to explain the problem to my family at dinner the night before the fieldtrip. I can’t wait until my little sister Charlotte is older. Right now, she’s only in first grade, so all she has to share are things like, “Jack brought a kitten into show and tell” and stuff like that.
My parents are always saying I can tell them anything. Still, when it comes to girls and dating, maybe I should keep my big mouth shut.
“After school lets out, Cody is taking Karen Anderson to the movies to see the new Revenger flick,” I said through a mouth full of meatloaf. “He says I should ask Sharon.”
“Don’t talk with your mouth full,” my mother replied. “Try again, Marvin. No one can understand you.”
I swallowed before repeating myself. Mom put down her fork and stared at my father. “Mike,” she started. My father didn’t say anything for a second. Instead, he glanced over at me and my little sister Charlotte. We all knew we were in for it because Mom is always doing three things at once, even at dinner. When she puts down her fork and takes a deep breath, there’s either a big speech coming, or yelling, or both.
Dad was too fast for her this time though, “Now Claire. Think back. When did you have your first boyfriend?”
“That’s different,” Mom sniffed. She went back to eating and I let out a breath I didn’t even know I’d been holding in.
“It’s not that different, Claire,” Dad laughed. “Remember, I kissed you on your thirteenth birthday,” Dad winked.
“Well, just because you stole a kiss doesn’t make it right,” Mom smirked. “Don’t go putting any ideas into Marvin’s head. He’s got enough crazy ideas of his own for me to worry about.”
“Marvin turned thirteen last month,” Charlotte said, looking to me. “Did you get kissed?” I could feel my face starting to go red and I wondered how the conversation got away from me so quickly.
“He’s too young to be kissing people and going on dates,” Mom groaned as if my starting to date was the worst thing that had ever happened to her.
Dad served himself more salad, a green mess I was trying to avoid and asked, “What started this whole idea in the first place?”
“Cody thinks it’s a good idea to find girls to go out with this summer,” I explained. “That way, we can have dates for the homecoming dance. Dan says the only guys who don’t go to things like that are losers who play video games in their parents’ basements all day or go cow tipping while everyone else is on dates having actual fun.”
“Girls who go cow tipping too,” Charlotte contradicted. “Kaylie Parker’s older sister told me.”
“You’re sister is right,” Mom said, shooting a glance at Charlotte like she wanted to know exactly what else Kaylie’s sister had said. “You’re being illogical, Marvin. You’re not a loser. If you don’t want to become a cow-tipping juvenile delinquent, stop worrying so much about girls. Study, put as much effort into your homework as you do playing basketball, and stay out of trouble.”
“The thing is,” Dad’s voice was a lot kinder than Mom’s, “usually a guy doesn’t just want a girlfriend. Usually he starts thinking about dating because he wants to spend more time with one particular girl. My advice is that if you feel that way about Sharon, then it couldn’t hurt to ask her out for pizza or something, as long as you go in a group.”
Mom tilted her head, “I suppose your father is right. As long as you’re with a group of kids and it’s more like friends hanging out then I don’t see a problem with it. You’re too young to have a real date on your own though. You’ll have to wait until you’re in high school for that.”
I wondered about what Dad said. The truth was that I could barely tell who was who when it came to the triplets, not to mention the fact that out of all the girls at our school, they giggled the most and never seemed to know any of the answers when Miss. Hannigan called on them in class. They were sort of silly. I sat through the rest of dinner trying to think of who else I could ask out.
The only other girls in our class I could ask out were Amy Costello and Addison Hartman. Addy wasn’t bad looking, but she hated me ever since second grade when I put a frog in her desk. I know it wasn’t the nicest thing to do, but it sure was funny to see that frog jump out and land on her shoulder. I laughed for days thinking of how she screamed.
Amy was the bossiest girl I knew and she hated me too, ever since her birthday party in first grade when I leaned over to help her blow out the candles on her cake. Her parents had gotten trick candles and when I tried to help her blow them out, I bumped into her and the tips of her braids caught on fire.
Thinking quickly, I grabbed a pitcher of lemonade and dumped it on her head to get the fire out. The lemonade put out the fire, but it destroyed the cake and Amy’s party dress. Everything was sticky and smelled like burned hair. Basically, I ruined the party. It wasn’t as bad as what I did on the fieldtrip, but it was close.
I was excited when I woke up the morning of the fieldtrip. I figured Sharon was my best shot at a girlfriend and planned on asking her out right after our factory tour. Unfortunately, I didn’t count on interference from Max Zittelli.
Here’s the thing you need to know about Max. He’s in seventh grade with us, but he’s been held back twice, so he actually belongs in ninth grade. Our school only goes up to grade eight, which makes Max the oldest kid at school. Besides me, he’s the tallest kid here. Except that where I have skinny arms and bony legs, Max has arms as thick as sledgehammers and legs as big as boulders. Last September, I almost felt sorry for him because he kept failing. I asked him if he needed help with math, and in response he shoved my head into the toilet and gave me a swirly. At that point, my sympathy for him went right down the drain along with my dignity.
I wasn’t too worried about him that day, even though I probably should have been. The sixth and seventh graders always take the same agricultural and manufacturing fieldtrip, which meant that since all of us were in seventh grade, we had already been on the tour. We were looking forward to it anyway because after the dull-as-dirt farm tour and another half hour bus ride, we would arrive at Perry’s ice cream factory. Last year, after we toured the factory, we each got two ice cream treats at the end. So this year, everyone was talking about how interesting it was to see the novelties being made and debating on whether to choose popsicles or cones at the end of the day.
“Hey, Sharon Anderson is winking at you,” Cody whispered to me as we stood in line to get on the bus.
“Which one’s Sharon again?” I whispered back.
Cody raised his eyebrows, “She’s the one in the blue. Sharon always wears blue, Karen wears pink, and Erin wears purple. Haven’t you figured that out by now?” I shrugged, “I don’t look at what girls are wearing. Besides, why’s she winking at me anyhow?”
“She probably heard about your heroic solving of the math problem yesterday,” Cody smacked me upside my head. “Don’t be stupid, Marvin. I told Karen you were going to ask Sharon to the movies. I’m taking Karen. Bruce is bringing Erin. It’ll be great.”
I shrugged again, glancing over at Sharon. I didn’t want to tell Cody about what my dad had said. I wanted a girlfriend just like everyone else, but now Sharon was in front of me, I remembered how annoying girls could be. “She’s giggling and hiding behind her sisters,” I rolled my eyes. “Girls are so weird.”
“That mean she likes you,” Cody insisted.
I looked at him, unable to speak. I wondered how he knew all this stuff and how he could be so confident. Once I heard my mom say, “That Cody is growing up nicely. He’s going to be a real heartbreaker someday.” I didn’t understand that because Cody is still about four inches shorter than I am, and as far as I can tell, the only other difference between us is his blond hair flops in this cool rock-star style and my red hair is too curly to be cut that way. I know because I tried the last time I went to the barbershop, crazy old Stefano practically shaved my head bald trying to get it right.
Still, my mom’s comment didn’t bother me too much because Cody can break all the hearts he wants as long as he leaves one girl for me. That girl won’t be Sharon Anderson though. No matter what Sharon might have said or done before we got on the bus, by the time we got home, she sure wasn’t flirting with me anymore.
We filed into the cramped half-sized bus and took our seats. Thankfully, even though it was a small bus, Max Zittelli was sitting up toward the front where Miss. Hannigan said she could keep an eye on him. Meanwhile, Cody and I were crammed into a seat together across from the triplets.
The dirt road out to Johnson’s Farm and Petting Zoo was bumpy. I get car sick pretty easily and I started to feel nauseous as soon as we pulled out of the school’s parking lot. It was hot, crowded, and I could feel every jolt in the road while little beads of sweat started to slide down my neck, pooling up in my shirt collar. Mom had made a big breakfast of pancakes, bacon, and orange juice for Charlotte and me that morning. My stomach was first boiling, then roiling, then screaming by the time we got to the farm.
I never understood why they had this part of the fieldtrip because in a hick town like ours, half of the kids in the class live on farms and have parents who are farmers. In any case, we suffered through it. We politely walked around the chicken coops and listened to Farmer Johnson drone on about different kinds of eggs and how brown eggs taste the same as speckled eggs or white eggs, as if we didn’t know that already. Then, he took us through the barns to look at the cows. By this time, my stomach had settled down some, and I figured I would be alright. The whole Sharon thing was making me nervous, but I tried not to think about it and I started to feel better.
When we came out of the barn, Farmer Johnson shuffled to the picket fence surrounding the pig sty. On one of the posts was a big glass gallon jug of milk. “This here is Jersey milk,” the old farmer sloshed the milk around a few times and then set the bottle back on the fence. “Jerseys have more protein and butterfat in their product, so we get a nice creamy milk out of them,” he kept talking about cheese and ice cream as he led everybody over to the barns where the goats were kept.
I started to follow, but when I saw Sharon smiling at me again, I don’t quite know what came over me. I pulled Cody back away from the group, and in a voice only loud enough for Cody and Sharon to hear, I boasted, “I love milk. Bet you I can drink that whole big bottle in under a minute.”
Sharon giggled as usual and ran off to join back up with her sisters, who were up front asking all kinds of questions about the goats. She kept an eye on me for a while, but then started chattering about how her mother knits sweaters from goat’s wool every Christmas.
“You really think you could?” Cody’s eyes widened.
His words cut into my thoughts. I realized I had maybe been showing off too much, the way I sometimes have a tendency to do. Sharon was gone now and probably wouldn’t appreciate such a dumb stunt anyway. Unfortunately for me and my big fat mouth, Max Zittelli also heard me bragging. He came sauntering over. I don’t know whether Max was always angry, or if getting held back so many times turned him mean. But one thing is for sure, he’s the biggest bully you’ll ever meet. And for a guy who’s not supposed to be too smart, he comes up with some fairly creative ways of torturing the rest of us. That day, he decided to torture me by giving me a flat out challenge. “I dare you,” he said, grinding his meaty fist into his palm.
“Dare me to do what?” I gave a weak laugh.
“Dare you to drink a whole jug of milk in under a minute,” he sneered.
Well, let me tell you, if I knew then what I know now, I would have walked away like a coward. But, I had worked pretty hard to become one of the coolest guys in school, at least, that’s what I thought anyhow. I didn’t want to lose that reputation to a dumb bully over something as stupid as milk.
Still, I might have laughed the whole thing off, but then Cody had to open his own big mouth and say, “Of course he’ll do it. Won’t you Marvin?”
That’s the thing about Cody. He’s a great guy and he’ll always be loyal and stick up for his friends, even sometimes when we wish he wouldn’t. Once Cody said that, I figured I didn’t have a choice, so I shrugged and said, “Sure. Why not?”
“You can’t drink that whole thing. Quit being a showoff,” Max shook his head. “This is why I can’t stand you, Miller. You’re such an idiot sometimes.”
That got me riled up, mostly because I realized he was right. I was a big showoff. I also knew that if I didn’t do it, he’d threaten me with a different challenge, or maybe just wait a few weeks and then sock me in the eye like he had done last summer. I felt my legs go wobbly, but I steadied myself. I knew I had to prove him wrong.
With one fell swoop, I grabbed up the milk bottle and jumped up on top of the fence railing. Balancing on the rail of the fence, I tipped the bottle into my mouth. As I started chugging, I could hear Cody below me, clapping and crowing like one of Farmer Johnson’s roosters. Max was grumbling, and I figured I was in for a black eye when I finished.
I didn’t have much time to think about it though because the milk was much worse than I had imagined. What I didn’t reckon on when I put the bottle to my lips was that, unlike at home where we keep our milk in the fridge, this milk had been sitting out on this fence waiting in the warm sun until Farmer Johnson was ready to talk about it. So, not only was the bottle warm, the milk was warm too, and there were chewy little chunks floating around in it.
I was more than a little happy when Miss. Hannigan came barreling out of the barn like one of Farmer Johnson’s mad bulls yelling, “Marvin Miller, what in the world do you think you’re doing?”
Cody and Max both scampered back to the bus. I almost fell off the fence right there, but instead I hid the bottle of milk behind my back where she couldn’t see and let it slip into the tall grass. I grinned my biggest widest smile. Dad says that my smile is infectious and can get me out of all sorts of trouble. I have not found that to be true in the past, and it sure wasn’t true then either.
Miss. Hannigan patted her stiffly sprayed hair, straightened her collar and said, “Don’t think for one second that charm is going to work on me, young man. Trying to walk a fence post? It’s a miracle you didn’t break your neck. Get down off that fence this instant. If you don’t stop acting up, I’ll see that your mother hears about this.”
I scrambled down off the fence, trying not to look at Miss. Hannigan as she stood there with her hands on her hips, glaring at me. Unfortunately for all of us, she was about two minutes too late because most of the milk was gone, chunks and all.
Everyone was excited to finally go to the factory. Once we were back on the bus, Max Zittelli started chanting, “Ice cream, ice cream, ice cream,” even though he must have done this same fieldtrip now at least a dozen times. Eventually everyone was caught up in the excitement, even though we all know Max is a big jerk. Everyone was whooping and hollering as the bus pulled back out onto the road. Everyone except me, that is.
I was sitting on the aisle side of the seat and my stomach was churning. The bus had become hot again and the road was bumpier than before. Everyone kept chanting “ice cream, ice cream.”
Then, Sharon Anderson leaned over from her aisle seat next to me and whispered, “My favorite is chocolate.”
I pictured a sticky chocolate ice cream cone deliciously dripping with sprinkles and felt everything rise up. Then, the bus went over a big bump, and I hurled all over Sharon’s jeans and sneakers.
She screamed and started to cry and I felt horrible, so I tried to turn away… only to puke more all over Cody.
Over the sound of my retching, I could vaguely hear Miss. Hannigan yelling at the bus driver to pull over, as everyone else screamed and made gagging noises. I was too sick to care. Slumping back in my seat at last and trying not to cry in front of everyone, I wiped my mouth and closed my eyes in relief.
My relief didn’t last too long because there were shouts of “Gross, Marvin!” and “I can’t believe you did that!” and “You are the worst!” I knew that my name was mud with everybody, maybe even with Cody. You can’t puke on a guy and expect him to still be your best friend.
Miss. Hannigan had the bus driver pull over as she shouted, “Everyone calm down. We all get sick now and then. This is no one’s fault.”
Then, Sharon Anderson had to open her big tattle-tale mouth. She tried to wipe the puke off her jeans and screamed, “It is too someone’s fault. Marvin told Cody he could drink a whole gallon of milk and I saw him do it too.”
Tattling is not a nice thing to do, but I suppose I can’t blame her, seeing as how I ruined her outfit. I suppose too I should be grateful she didn’t mention Max Zittelli’s role in the whole thing because he probably would have beaten me to a pulp. Still, when Sharon told on me, Miss. Hannigan’s face went red with fury.
Instead of babying me like teachers normally do when kids are sick, she marched back to my seat, grabbed me by the ear, and hauled me off the bus. She yelled at Cody and Sharon to follow, since they were covered in my breakfast. Then, she motioned for Erin and Karen, since they had also been sitting in the splash zone.
At the side of the road, I was so sick, I collapsed and had to sit down in the dirt. Sharon was sobbing, as were her identical sisters. Back in the bus, I could hear people shouting and yelling about the mess I’d made. I looked up and saw a few flashes go off. I realized even though we weren’t supposed to bring phones on the trip, a few kids had brought them along anyway. I turned my head so my face wouldn’t show in the pictures.
I was going to have to live with this for the next five years until I could go somewhere very very far away for college—somewhere like California or China. Then I spotted Max Zittelli sitting in the window, pointing at me and laughing hysterically.
When I saw that, I leaned over and retched one last time. I think this last bit was actually my worst mistake because right when I hurled, Mrs. Green our other teacher chaperone was stepping off the bus to make sure everyone was alright. When she saw me puke, I guess it triggered something in her because she leaned over and got sick right there at the side of the road in front of everyone.
Well, when everyone on the bus saw that happen, they all went quiet, even Max because even though we’re not little kids anymore, we still think of teachers like they’re Santa Claus or something. They’re sort of magical in a way and you always expect them to be perfect and do the right thing. Even if you see them out at the grocery store or church, it’s amazing because you realize they don’t actually live at school all day long.
This was beyond anything any of us had ever seen before. When it happened, Mrs. Green started crying. Then Mrs. Snipe the bus driver cried a little bit. I guess it was a long day for her too and she probably knew she’d be the one who would have to clean everything up. The only person who wasn’t upset was Max. He was still quiet, but looking pretty pleased with himself.
Seeing that her fellow teacher was in trouble and realizing I had stupidly wrecked our entire fieldtrip, Miss. Hannigan decided to take charge. This was probably because Miss. Hannigan was the only person there who was still in her right mind. She wasn’t crying, but she did look madder than I’d ever seen a teacher look before, including the time in third grade when I’d let the class hamster loose from his cage just to see where he would run.
Miss. Hannigan whipped off the cardigan sweater she always wore and wiped us all off, starting with the triplets and moving onto Cody. By the time she got to me, there wasn’t much she could do, but she sure tried to scrub my face hard enough. She marched us back onto the bus and said to Mrs. Snipe, “For goodness sake, Beverly, stop blubbering and turn this bus around. We’re going back to the school.”
Some of the younger kids started whining when they heard that, but there was nothing else to be done because I was still sick, there a bunch of students whose clothes had been ruined, and the bus reeked. On top of this, Mrs. Green had a face to match her name and looked like she might be sick again at any moment.
When we got back to school, Miss. Hannigan left the other kids with Mrs. Green and the playground monitors and said that they could all play outside for the rest of the day. I saw right off that this was not going to help because most of them sat down in the grassy field, moping that they weren’t going to get any ice cream.
Miss. Hannigan took me, Cody, Sharon, Karen, and Erin over to the principal’s office to call our parents. Cody and the girls just needed to be taken home and washed up. I knew that sick or not, I was going to have to explain things, and when I did, I’d be in a real pickle. I thought Miss. Hannigan would tell the principal everything that happened straight away, but instead she surprised me.
Miss. Hannigan knocked briskly on our principal’s office door and as soon as he poked his head out, she declared, “I’m retiring.”
“What?” our principal Mr. McIntire looked shocked at her pronouncement. His face soon turned from shock to disgust when he noticed me and the other kids, whose clothes were still sort of dripping and smelling foul.
“This,” Miss. Hannigan pointed over at us, “is the last straw. I can’t do it anymore. I am sixty three years old and I refuse to put up with these shenanigans. I’m leaving it all behind and moving to Florida.”
With that, she turned on her heel and left. Well, Mr. McIntire was as stunned as the rest of us, I can tell you. He blustered at his secretary, “Daisy, get these kids out of here. Call their parents and have them sit in the nurse’s office until someone comes to pick them up.” Then, he turned back into his office and slammed the door behind him.
So that just left us looking at Mrs. Lynch, the secretary, who sighed like all she wanted to do was go home, take a nap, and maybe sleep through the whole summer. Instead, she called our parents, starting with the triplets, whose mother I could hear shouting over the phone, “What happened? They have what all over them?”
Then she called Cody’s mother at work. The phone was so loud, we could hear Mrs. McCall saying, “Of course” over and over again, while Cody looked at me nervously, worried he might get in trouble too. Cody’s parents are divorced and ever since they split two years ago, his mother has been strict with Cody and his sisters. She says this is so her children won’t turn out like their dad, who keeps getting fired from every job he has, but Cody is smart and he works hard, so I don’t think she needs to worry.
Finally, the secretary called my mother. I could hear her yell both my name and a few other words I’m not supposed to repeat, and so I won’t say here. Let’s just say that it was clear to me and everybody else in that room that she was hopping mad and that I wasn’t going to be able to lie down, watch TV, and drink ginger ale the way I usually did when I was sick.
I was right. After I got home and cleaned up, I tried to explain everything to my mom, but she interrupted, “I don’t want to hear it, mister. Save the sob story for your father. Maybe he’ll be a little more sympathetic when he comes home. Until then, go to your room. No phone. No TV. No computer. All you can do is lie down and think about what you’ve done.”
I tried, but every time I closed my eyes, I felt nauseous all over again. Instead, I tried to figure out how to explain everything to Dad. I must have drifted off for a few minutes because when Dad knocked on my door, I opened my eyes, I realized it was already dark outside.
“Hey, Sport,” Dad sat at the side of my bed.
“I ruined everything,” I said. I could hear my voice wavering, but I tried to keep back the lump that was forming in my throat.
“So I hear,” he said and paused, waiting for me to talk. That’s the nice thing about my dad. Sometimes it’s easier to talk to him instead of Mom because Mom always asks a lot of questions and tries to pry every last little detail out of me. Dad only says a few words and lets me be. When it’s quiet, I can think out what I want to say and how I want to say it.
After a minute, I started, “I didn’t mean to wreck the whole fieldtrip.”
“I know,” he patted my shoulder. Then the whole story came out—about Sharon and Max and the milk and all those kids on the bus who were grossed out and angry all at once.
“And now I’ll never have any friends, let alone a girlfriend,” my voice shook a little. “They’ll probably call me something like Barfin’ Marvin until I finish high school, unless we move far away before then. Do you think we can move? Or maybe I can go to private school in the fall? St. Joe’s isn’t that far away.”
“Well,” Dad stroked his red beard, “if you ask me, it’s a lucky thing this happened the last day of school. Maybe most of the kids will forget by the time school starts next year.”
“That’s what Mom said,” I waved him away.
Dad slapped my knee, “Your mother is right. She was right too to send you up here. You’re grounded for the next week. No phone. No TV. No computer. No going out with your friends. And no dates. If you want to date someone, you’ll have to prove to us that you’re more mature than you acted today.”
“Dad,” I whined.
I thought he was done, but when he stood up, he said, “In addition, I’ve decided that the second part of the punishment will fit the crime. I called the school and they set the bus aside. You’ll be going over to clean it in the morning.”
“What?” I jumped off the bed. “On a Saturday? Dad, that’s completely unfair.”
“Was it fair that Mrs. Snipe your bus driver had to clean up the mess you made because you decided to show off?”
“It was Max’s fault. I told you,” I crossed my arms.
“Hmm,” he considered. “I think he played a part in it, but you need to take some responsibility too, Marvin. Mrs. Snipe and Miss. Hannigan had to clean up most of your mistake already. If you refuse to do your share of the work, Mrs. Snipe will have to come in on her day off, which would be completely unfair. In that case, you will have to go the rest of the summer without a phone or computer instead of merely a week.”
I fell back on the bed, “So, basically, I have no choice then?”
“You always have a choice, Marvin. You should remember that, even when facing down Max Zittelli. You always have a choice. I can only hope you make the right choices in the future,” he closed the door.
Even though our talk had been pretty serious, I heard him laughing on the other side of my door. “Barfin’ Marvin,” he chuckled. I grimaced and pulled the covers up over my head.