Having established his new persona, Masta Pud knew it was time for step two of his plan. He needed to acquire a fashion sense, STAT!
Spending days in observation, he compiled an entire notebook of lists of what the popular kids were wearing. He eavesdropped on conversations, trying to hear where they bought their oh-so-fashionable items. He wrote down everything, from their shoes to the shiny barrettes in the girls’ hair to the ball caps worn low on the boys’ heads.
Masta Pud prided himself on his observational skills. By the end of his surveillance period, he had amassed over 200 pages of notes, lists, even short descriptions of what all the popular people were wearing. Feeling that he was well (perhaps even overly) prepared, he set off on his shopping expedition.
Earnest had been mowing lawns all summer, and since he had relatively few friends (read: none), he really had nothing to spend his money on except for replacement Magic cards and the occasional binder for when he acquired too many and needed additional storage. Mostly his mom took care of the food stuff, and he really wasn’t into movies and the like, so by the end of the summer he had built himself up a tidy little nest egg. And he knew just how he was going to spend it.
“Mom!” He charged into the kitchen after school about a week following his unveiling of his new identity. Things were going okay, people kept forgetting his new name and others kept getting it mixed up, calling him “Pasta Mud” instead. Hardy har har. They might be laughing NOW, but just wait until his master plan was complete! THEN they’d see who was laughing! HA!
“Mom, I need a ride to the mall.”
His mother set down her chopping knife, adjusted her glasses, and stared at him suspiciously. She wasn’t sure that she had ever thought to hear words of that nature issue forth from this child that vaguely resembled her son.
“Yeth, mom. The mall. I’m conducting some very important rethearch.” He reached out and grabbed a cucumber slice from the cutting board and popped it in his mouth, almost slicing his finger on his head gear. “Tho will you give me a ride, or what?”
His mother wiped her hands on her apron and untied it, then headed upstairs for her coat and shoes. “Well, Earnest, I can, but how long were you planning to stay? How were you going to get home? Dinner will be ready by six, you know, and I expect you here.” Her voice sure could carry fantastic distances, Masta Pud reflected, as he snuck another cucumber slice. “It’s Mathta Pud, Mom! I told you that already!” His voice did not carry as well as his mother’s, especially around a mouthful of cucumber.
Twenty minutes later, Masta Pud and his mom were trundling down the freeway in the family’s Chevy Citation that Masta Pud had affectionately dubbed Otis, in one of his more inspired moments. The car was old, musty, and the alternator kept going out, but he supposed it was enough to get him started on phase two of his plan. Of course, when he was popular he would need to get the family to buy a new car, but that day was not yet. Not yet.
His mom dropped him off in front of Sears, making him promise to be safe and meet her back here in exactly 90 minutes. Masta Pud solemnly promised and waved goodbye as his mom pulled away.
“Goodbye, Earnest! Be good! Have fun!” His mother’s carrying voice could be heard as she drove off.
“PATHTA MUD!” He screamed. “I mean, MATHTA PUD! ARRRRGH!”
Frustration vented but not eliminated, he stomped into Sears to begin the second leg of his journey into popularity.
An hour an a half later, laden with fresh purchases and eager to get home to try on his new outfits, his mother clunked to a rolling stop, threw open his door, and helped him get in, then clunked away. Otis was getting old, no doubt about it.
“So what did you need to buy? Where’d you get the money to buy all this stuff, Earnest?” Masta Pud sighed. His mom was probably NEVER going to call him by his true name. Ah well, one minor glitch in the grand scheme of things, it wasn’t that important, he guessed.
“I mowed lawnth, Mom. Remember? I thaved it all and thought I would do my own thchool thopping this year.” His mother glanced at him sharply. He had never really been interested in clothes or how he looked before. What had brought on this sudden change?
“Clothes, huh? Well, that’s impressive.” She ventured a little further. “Anyone in particular that you’re, oh, trying to impress? Hmmm?” She congratulated herself on her subtlety as she saw her son’s puzzled look. Surprise at her intuitive skills, most likely.
“Um, no, Mom. No one I’m trying to impreth.” He was getting warm. The other thing with Otis was that he got overheated, which meant that the car could sometimes get as hot as an oven inside, especially on a hot day like today.
His mother, seeing his face redden, congratulated herself on sussing out her son’s social issues. She patted his leg and made soothing noises as Otis chugged his way home.
That night after dinner, Masta Pud spent two solid hours locked in his room, perfecting one outfit after another. He had jeans, shirts, accessories, shoes, socks, even underwear. He was stocked up and ready for phase two of his plan. He fell asleep that night dreaming of popularity and hot girlfriends.
The next morning, Masta Pud’s mother was mildly shocked to see her son sail grandly down the stairs and into the kitchen to collect his lunch. She eyed him more closely and saw that he was wearing what looked to be skintight jeans with zippers at the ankles. The jeans were stuffed into the tops of a pair of what his mother almost swore were Eskimo boots, tan with fur sticking out the tops and big clunky soles…but that was ridiculous, they lived in Washington, not Alaska.
The jeans were topped by a pink cashmere sweater that was actually quite attractive…had it been on a woman it would have looked even better. Masta Pud had also shoved a Mariners baseball cap on his head so you couldn’t see his eyes, donned a large chunky stainless steel watch, and strung a huge rhinestone-encrusted dollar sign around his neck.
Bending down to peer in her son’s face, she started to speak, but words failed her. Her son was beaming through his head gear with a grin a mile wide and his braces were almost blinding in their brilliance. Oh wait, they WERE blinding…it looked as though Masta Pud had glued some sort of rhinestone or other flashy gem to his braces! His mother drew a breath but before she could speak, Masta Pud flashed her a thumbs up, grabbed his lunch, and was clomping out the door in his oversize Eskimo boots.
See, Earnest was very observant, that is true. But in all the notes he took and all the sneaky observations he made, he failed to notate whether the wearer or the clothing item was male or female…he just wrote it all down and purchased accordingly.
His mother watched him go with a sick feeling in her stomach, wondering what kind of girl he was trying to impress that would be impressed by that getup. Oh dear. Time for some Tums.