(Note: Read the entry "The Return of Hobart Pumpernickel" before reading this story.)
It was another typical school day in Clemont High. One of the things that made these typical days more interesting was Miss Smart's English class, where the students did anything but English.
One of the more prominent students in the class was Peeved Matchklinger, known for his stories, poems, brilliant insight into poetry and, most of all, jokes which were said to be some of the worst in the world.
Sitting next to Peeved was Opart Pumpkinpickle, known all over Clemont for his idiotic tests based on happenings in the school. Opart was not the boy's real name, but everybody used it because no one could remember what his real name was.
Some other students in the class were Rootie Tootus, who spent the period sniffing glue, Whatda Heck, president of the Class of '69, Witty Goldenboig, whose jokes were almost as bad as those of Peeved, and Jowl Saltpepper, who got A's on book reports without reading the books. (The roll book also lists a student named Pret Zell, but since he has not been to class in six weeks, it is assumed that he has dropped out.)
Since it was Wednesday, the class knew that Miss Smart would have something special for them to do. On these rare occasions, the class got to read a poem and analyze it. The excitement was so great that three students fainted as soon as Miss Smart started to hand out the dittoed poem.
"Today," said Miss Smart, "we will read a poem from The Moose, the magazine that I am advisor to, and I can tell you that it is up to the usual standards of The Moose. It's..."
"Morbid!" said Charvey Makeups, who was about to push Mark Shoestringman out the emergency window.
"Well... yes, it is," said Miss Smart, "but I was going to say that it was written by one of your fellow students. The poem is called 'Spitting' and it was written by Opart Pumpkinpickle."
Opart groaned. The poem was the eighty-seventh in a series. The first was "Whistling," which was followed by "Singing," "Dancing," "Humming," "Running," "Jumping," ""Glooping" and others too numerous to mention.
Miss Smart read the poem to the class and then asked the students what they thought the deep inner meaning was.
"Obviously," said Peeved, "it's just what it seems to be. It's about a man who has been spitting all his life, even though he knows it's a bad habit. Then one day it pays off when his house catches fire and he puts it out before the fire department arrives."
"I disagree," said Clark Carmel. "I think the spitting represents the man's attempts to rid himself of his troubles, but he finds that they are always there, like the saliva in his mouth. Finally, he sees that even troubles can be helpful."
Dynne Ledofsky raised her hand, was called upon, and said, "Why do we have to read this dumb poem? Why can't we read one by Larrienne?"
"No," yelled Charvey. "I think we should read this. When it comes to poetry, Opart Pumpkinpickle is another Ronald Reagan."
"But Ronald Reagan doesn't write poetry," objected Witty Goldenboig.
""Like I said, Opart is another Ronald Reagan."
"Thanks a lot, Charvey," said Opart.
During this entire conversation, Miss Smart had been asking the class to be quiet. She finally got their attention by tossing her desk through a window. "I think we should ask Opart if he wants the class to analyze his poem."
"I hate poetry," said Opart. "Can I go home and watch The Fugitive?"
"Yeah," said Whatda Heck. "Why do we have to read any poems at all?"
"Because I want to," said Miss Smart.
"That sounds like a dumb answer," said Whatda.
"No," said Peeved. "That's a Smart answer!"
The class groaned.
Suddenly, Arc Rosenblerb woke up and said, "Hey, Miss Smart! Are you related to that guy on TV, Get Smart?"
"Yes, he's my third cousin," said the teacher.
This brought new life to the class. Everybody started to discuss TV shows, just as Mr Slider, the assistant principal, came in. "Don't mind me," he told Miss Smart, "I've just come to take a nap."
"He really comes because he likes the designs on the ceiling," whispered Peeved.
The class sat in silence for ten minutes, waiting for Mr Slider to fall asleep. The silence was broken when Rootie dropped his loose leaf as he was getting a new tube of glue. Miss Smart walked over and told him not to sniff it while Mr Slider was there, so Rootie got up, took the administrator by the coat and tossed him out the door. Then he sat down and began sniffing.
Finally, the bell rang, ending the period.
As the students raced out the door, Miss Smart announced there would be a test the following day on the first eight hundred pages of The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. (She had given them more than enough time to read it, three days.) Nobody cared. The class was over for the day. They would worry about the test two minutes before the start of class the next day.
Miss Smart sighed. "I should have joined the Peace Corps," she thought to herself as she left the classroom.