Authors: Dan Gutman
“She made you balance a yardstick on your nose?” Ryan asked. He couldn't believe it.
“I had to cluck like a chicken, too,” I said.
“Mrs. Cooney is loony!” said Michael.
We were sitting around the vomitorium
eating lunch. I gave Ryan my disgusting applesauce and he gave me his cupcake. Ryan will eat anything.
Ryan and Michael told me that after math was over, Miss Daisy taught the class about vowels.
“Vowels are the letters
,” Michael told me.
“I thought vowels were
said. “Like in âOld MacDonald Had a Farm.'”
is a vowel,” added Ryan.
“Sometimes?” I asked. “Well, is
a vowel or isn't it?”
“Sometimes it is, and sometimes it isn't,” Michael said.
should make up its mind,” I said.
It was time to clean off our table. It was also time for me to tell the guys about my big decision. I had been thinking about it all during lunch. I was thinking about it so much I could barely enjoy Ryan's cupcake.
“Guys,” I said. “You're my best friends,
so I have to let you in on a secret. Promise not to tell anyone?”
“Promise,” promised Ryan and Michael.
“When I grow up,” I said, “I'm gonna marry Mrs. Cooney.”
“Oooh!” Ryan shouted. “A.J. and Mrs. Cooney are in
“Shut up!” I said. “You promised!”
“A.J., girls have cooties!” Michael said. “Everybody knows that.”
girls have cooties,” I told him. “Grown-up girls don't have cooties. And even if they did, I'm sure Mrs. Cooney has a cootie cure. She
a trained nurse, you know.”
I never should have told Ryan and
Michael my big news.
“Maybe Mrs. Cooney will want to marry
,” Ryan said.
“Hey, I thought of marrying her first,” I said.
“Maybe she'll marry all of us,” said Michael.
Suddenly, at the next table, Miss Smarty-Pants Know-It-All Who Should Have an Elevator Fall on Her Head turned around.
“You silly dumbheads,” Andrea said. “Mrs. Cooney is
“What?” we all said. “How do you know?”
“That's why she's called
Andrea said. “If she wasn't married, she'd be called
Andrea thinks she knows so much. And now she knows I'm in love with Mrs. Cooney. I wish I could punch her.
As we scraped our trays into the garbage can, Ryan and Michael decided that they would marry Mrs. Cooney even if she was already married. They said that they were going to pretend to be sick so they could go see Mrs. Cooney too.
“Hey, that was
idea!” I complained.
“It was a good idea,” said Michael.
“It's not fair!” I said.
“It is too,” said Ryan.
As it turned out, none of us had to pretend to be sick and go see Mrs. Cooney.
“Clear off your desks,” said Miss Daisy when we got back to class. “Mrs. Cooney is coming to talk to us.”
Miss Daisy told us to be on our best behavior while she called Mrs. Cooney on the intercom. So as soon as she turned her back on the class, me and Michael got up and shook our butts.
Finally, after about a million hundred minutes of waiting, Mrs. Cooney walked in the door.
“Va-va-va-voom!” I whispered to Michael, who sits next to me.
I really don't know what “va-va-va-voom” means, but that's what my dad always says when he sees a picture of that movie star who looks like Mrs. Cooney.
“I'm in love,” Michael said.
“Me too,” said Ryan, who was sitting behind me.
“Me three,” I said.
It was bad enough that Mrs. Cooney had a husband. Now Michael and Ryan were in love with her
! How would I ever get Mrs. Cooney to marry me instead of all those other guys?
My friend Billy around the corner
knows a lot about girls. He says the way to get a girl to like you is to make her laugh. So I decided that I would try that.
“What are you going to teach us today, Mrs. Cooney?” asked Miss Daisy.
“Today we're going to learn about nutrition,” said Mrs. Cooney. “Does anybody know what a food pyramid is?”
“Sure,” I said. “That's what they eat in Egypt.”
Some of the kids laughed, but Mrs. Cooney didn't. I would have to try harder.
“Please raise your hand instead of shouting out,” said Mrs. Cooney. “Andrea?”
“The food pyramid shows the groups of foods that make up a good diet,” Andrea said.
“Good, Andrea,” said Mrs. Cooney as she held up a big poster of a pyramid with food all over it. She gave Andrea a smiley face sticker for her notebook. Andrea has so many smiley face stickers on her notebook that you can hardly see the notebook anymore.
“Can anyone name all the food groups?” asked Mrs. Cooney.
This time I raised my hand, and Mrs. Cooney called on me.
“The refrigerator, the freezer, the pantry, and the kitchen cabinets,” I said. “That's where we group the food in my house.”
A few kids laughed. Mrs. Cooney crossed her arms in front of her and tapped her foot until the laughing died down. She had on her serious face. She's cute when she's serious.
“Not exactly,” she said. Andrea had her hand in the air, as usual, and she got called on. Andrea named all the dumb
food groups and got another smiley face sticker.
Why doesn't a food pyramid fall on Andrea's head? I wish I could punch her.
“Good,” said Mrs. Cooney. “Kids, where you eat may be as important as what you eat. Tell me, where do you usually eat your meals?”
“In my mouth,” I said. “Where else would I eat my meals?”
“No, I mean, do you eat in your kitchen?” Mrs. Cooney asked. “Do you eat in the car? Do you usually eat in front of the TV?”
“We eat all our meals in front of the TV,” I said.
“Why, A.J.?” asked Mrs. Cooney.
“Because there's no room
the TV,” I said. “We'd be squished.”
All the kids laughed. Mrs. Cooney put her hands on her hips and wrinkled up her forehead at me. But she still wasn't laughing. Maybe she was in a bad mood.
“Breakfast is the most important meal of the day,” Mrs. Cooney said. “You can't do good work at school if you haven't eaten a good breakfast. That goes for grown-ups, too. For example, it's hard for me to work on an empty stomach.”
“You shouldn't work on an empty stomach, Mrs. Cooney,” I said. “You should work on your desk.”
Everybody laughed at that one. Mrs.
Cooney slapped her own forehead, like there was a bug on it.
“A.J.,” said Mrs. Cooney. “Can you please try not to shout things out? Now how many of you eat breakfast in your pajamas?”
“That's disgusting!” I said. “My mom puts my breakfast on a plate.”
“A.J.! Go sit in the hall!” Mrs. Cooney said. “That's the last straw!”
What did straws have to do with anything? She wasn't even talking about straws.
Why are grown-ups constantly running out of straws? I offered to bring some more straws from home, but Mrs. Cooney said she didn't want them.
“Nah-nah-nah boo-boo,” Michael whispered when I went to sit in the hall.
I was in love with Mrs. Cooney, but she sure wasn't in love with me.
To make Mrs. Cooney fall in love with me, I would have to be on my best behavior. Luckily I got my chance the very next day.
After we finished pledging the allegiance, Miss Daisy told the class that we had to go to Mrs. Cooney's office one at a time. Ryan and Michael wanted to go
first. But I got to go first because my name starts with
So nah-nah-nah boo-boo on them.
When I got to Mrs. Cooney's office, she didn't seem mad at me anymore. I was determined to be the most perfect kid in the history of the world.
“Good morning, A.J.,” Mrs. Cooney said. “Every year at this time, I have to check the students for headlights.”
Headlights? Why would a kid bring a headlight to school? Headlights belong on cars. I kept my mouth shut, though. I didn't want Mrs. Cooney to get mad at me again.
Mrs. Cooney put on a pair of rubber
gloves. She told me to sit on a chair, and she turned on a bright light over the chair. It was like one of those lights they shine at bad guys in police TV shows when they're trying to get them to confess.
I wanted to tell Mrs. Cooney that checking kids for headlights was dopey, but I was trying to be on my best behavior.
“Is this really necessary?” I asked politely.
“It's nothing to be ashamed of,” she said. “Lots of kids have headlights.”
Nobody I know! Mrs. Cooney started looking through my hair and rubbing a stick against my head. What a waste of time! If I had a headlight up there, she
wouldn't have to look very hard to see it.
“What happens if I have one?” I asked.
“You'll have to stay home from school for a few days,” Mrs. Cooney said.
Hmm, that didn't sound like such a bad idea. I could use a vacation. I started thinking of how I could get a headlight. Maybe my dad had an extra one in the garage.
But even if I
get a headlight, how would I attach it to my head? With a strap or something?
As Mrs. Cooney was poking around in my hair, I started to think about what it would be like if the two of us were married. Maybe she would make me hop
around the house with a ruler on my nose and cluck like a chicken all day. Maybe I would have to wear a headlight all the time.
My mom once told me that all people are different and that's what makes people so interesting. She said we should accept people for who they are instead of
trying to change them. Maybe I could live with Mrs. Cooney even if she was weird.
“Okay,” Mrs. Cooney said. “You can go back to class, A.J. You don't have headlights.”
Mrs. Cooney is weird, but I still loved her. I decided that I still wanted to marry her when I grow up.
When I got back to class, I told Ryan and Michael that Mrs. Cooney tried to find headlights in my hair.
“It's head lice, dumbhead!” Michael said. “Not headlights!”
Oh. That explained a lot.