It was Phase Three of Ernest’s master plan to become popular, and things couldn’t have been going any better. Armed with his new name (Masta Pud) and his new wardrobe (the pink cashmere sweater did look fine, if he did say so himself), he was on his way to nail down Phase Three: The Girlfriend.
He knew just who it was going to be, too. Janey.
Janey Milligan was short, brown-haired, pixie-faced and perfect. She was a grade behind Masta Pud, and he was pretty sure she’d has her eye on him for months. He couldn’t wait to unveil his new look for her. He sighed blissfully as he thought of how she would describe him to her cheerleader friends. No doubt she would use terms like “manly”, and “decisive” and “handsome” (of course) and, now, “fashionable”. Ahhh.
Masta Pud’s bus dropped him off in front of the school like usual, and he shouldered his way to the front of the bus, oblivious to the snickers and amused looks that followed in his wake. He was at school, and he was on his way.
Janey sat behind him in his third period history class. It was then that he was planning to make sure that Janey knew of his interest. He was positive that she would leap right into his arms. How could she not?
Masta Pud entered his history class on a cloud of air. He ruthlessly suppressed the kernel of nervousness uncoiling in his belly, reasoning that there was no way his plan could fail. He had planned, strategized, and prepared within an inch of his life. He could not fail. He would not.
He was seated before Janey arrived. He carefully arranged his notebook, pencil, and big pink eraser on his desk, knowing that Janey would be impressed with his organizational skills. Normally, he would sit towards the front of the class so that the teacher would be sure to see his frantically waving hand, but this time he tried to choose a seat close to Janey’s habitually chosen desk in the back.
He ran through his opening gambit, as well as his second and third plans just in case. He flipped to the page in his notepad where he had carefully taken notes just in case he forgot. He read through his notes, adjusted his ballcap, made sure his dollar sign was hanging straight, and leaned back in his chair in an attempt to emulate the indolence that the other kids were showing. He was so ready.
Janey rushed in less than thirty seconds before class started, in a breathless rush of rosy cheeks, laughter, and perfume that smelled like peaches. Masta Pud grinned at her as she entered, with the unfortunate and unknown (to him) effect of baring all his teeth in their braces-encrusted glory. She shuddered (obviously in restrained desire) and found her seat.
Masta Pud barely made it through the class. He actually missed out on answering questions first three times, he was so distracted by Janey sitting behind him, so close and so unaware of how today was about to be the best day of her life. He couldn’t wait.
Finally, at last. Mr. Thompson wrapped up the class and dismissed them. Masta Pud clambered eagerly to his feet, unable to restrain himself from approaching his object of desire immediately.
Finally Janey turned away from her conversation with the captain of the football team, barely aware that someone was trying to get her attention. Upon being confronted with the spectacle of Masta Pud in his pink cashmere sweater, Mariners baseball cap, and various stunning accoutrements, she started to say something, then stopped, mouth agape.
“Thooooo, baby….” Masta Pud let his words trail off suggestively. When all she did was gape at him, he shrugged, figuring that she was just taken aback by his metamorphosis. “…did it hurt?”
Janey seemed to recover herself slightly. “What, talking to you?”
“No, thilly…what I meant wath…oh, never mind.” Obviously the followup ‘when you fell from heaven?’ would not necessarily work anymore. Thankfully, Masta Pud was a master of improvisation. Time to move on to plan B. “What I meant to thay, acthually, now that I have your attention, ith, are you from outer thpathe?”
“Well, I wish I was, because then I wouldn’t be on the same planet as you!” Janey tittered at her own witticism, and the hulking football jock obligingly joined in. He also started cracking his knuckles in a rather alarming manner, but Masta Pud wasn’t concerned. She would soon realize that he was giving her the opportunity of her lifetime.
And there ‘well, that surprises me, because your body’s out of this world.’ is put to death. She had such a great sense of humor, that’s what he really loved about her. On to plan C. This was going to be harder than he thought it would be, but no matter.
Desperate times call for desperate measures. Masta Pud held out his hand, and said, “Well, let me jutht thee your hand.” He waggled his fingers in a peremptory fashion. With an expression of eagerness that she cleverly disguised as reluctance, she placed her hand in his, almost before she knew what she was doing.
Masta Pud turned her palm up to face him and placed his finger on the heel of her hand near the base of her thumb and pinky. “Thith ith where the bunny liveth. He works his way through the foretht.” He stroked the tip of his finger across the surface of her palm, moving from the base of her thumb and pinky up to the hollow, in what he imagined was a languid, sensual fashion.
“Thuddenly, the bunny came to a deep, wide river.” He stroked his finger through the crease where her fingers met the rest of her hand. “On the other thide of the river were all the other little bunnieth that the first little bunny wanted to go play with.” Here he flicked his fingers against her fingertips to indicate the location of these other bunnies. “How ever can the bunny get acroth the river to play with the other bunnieth?”
He paused expectantly.
Janey was speechless, whether from disgust or shock or love, that is for you, dear reader, to decide. Masta Pud waited for her response and raised his eyebrows expectantly. Wondering why she’d even spoken to him in the first place, Janey finally said, “How?”
“I don’t know either, honey, I jutht wanted to hold your hand.” And with that, he turned her palm over, kissed the back of it, and backed away. Still bent at the waist, he tried to make it look like he imagined a courtier would depart the company of his queen. As he exited the classroom, he missed the football captain’s explosive burst of laughter.
“She likes me! I knew it! She LIKES ME!!!”
Masta Pud scurried off to his next class, secure in the knowledge that Phase Three was intact.