CHAPTER THREE - Gimme An F!
“Hello, girls!” The phony chirp could mean only one thing:
Tiffany Farrell had arrived.
She breezed in the door of third period English class and paused at the front of the room where Luann, Delta and Bernice were sitting. She always did this, like a movie star on the red carpet, posing for the cameras.
Tiffany wore full Cheer regalia: blue sleeveless sweater with a big black “P” for Pitts School, short black skirt, blue knee-highs and black shoes with fluffy blue pompoms. The Pitts School colors were black and blue (coordinating nicely, Luann believed, with the football team’s bruises) and Tiffany carried the theme into her accessory selections: blue eye shadow, black liner, blue clip in her blonde hair and the little black purse that swung from her shoulder.
Everyone agreed that Tiffany was a real head-snapper. The trouble was, Tiffany’s own head snapped more than anyone else’s -- like whenever she passed a mirror.
Luann wondered why Tiffany was even wearing her cheer outfit, except for the obvious advantage of a skimpy skirt and tight top. It was the end of school. There was nothing left to cheer... well, except for the end of school.
Luann ignored Tiffany’s phony greeting. Bernice was deep into studying her English book. But Delta replied with her own phony chirp.
“Well!! Hello, Tiffany! Oooh! Is there a great big game today?”
Tiffany turned her back on Delta and stood in front of Luann.
“Luann? Are you sick?”
Luann looked up at Tiffany. “Yes. I am now.”
“You look all puffy and pale. Serious eye baggage, too. Cold cucumber slices will help that.”
“Good thing I always carry cold cucumber slices in my backpack.”
“Your hair’s dull, too. That’s a sign your body’s shutting down.”
“Hope my ears are the first to go,” Luann mumbled as she opened her English book.
“Y’know, a little makeup would do wonders for you, Luann. A bit of Smoky Plum shadow, Burnt Rose blush, Roasted Ruby lip color and you’d look -”
“Overcooked,” said Luann, turning a page in her book.
“No, warm facial tones would enhance that orangey, yellowy whatever color of your hair. What IS that color, anyway? Dusty Cheeto?” Tiffany found this highly amusing and emitted her tweety laugh. “HeeHeeHee! Dusty Cheeto! That’s exactly what it looks like! HeeHeeHee!”
Luann looked up at her. “Y’know, Tiff, your expert beauty tips are extremely fascinating, but right now I’m trying to study for the English final. So if you don’t mind...” Luann turned to her book.
Tiffany stopped mid-tweet and her voice turned cold. “Fine! I’m just trying to be helpful, Luann. But hey, if you want to resemble a dead corpse, be my guest.”
Luann kept reading her book. “Well, we can’t all resemble a live corpse like you.”
Tiffany took a brush out of her bag and began stroking her golden locks. She checked her audience and saw that everyone was studying their text books. She looked at Luann. “Did you say something about an English final?”
Just then the bell rang and Mr. Fogarty strode into the room, walked quickly to his desk and put down his briefcase. Middle-aged, bespectacled and bald -- except for a sad reminder of fringe on the back of his head -- Mr. Fogarty wore a permanent frown that said “I’d rather be home, working on my novel.”
“Everyone take a seat! Tiffany?” Mr. Fogarty gestured Tiffany toward her desk then he turned to the chalkboard. “As you all know, today’s final is half of your total grade.” Mr. Fogarty wrote a giant 1/2 on the board to clarify what one half meant. He put down the chalk and turned back to the class. “That means if you currently have a “C” average and you get an “A” on...” Mr. Fogarty stopped. Tiffany was still standing, immobile, hairbrush in hand.
Tiffany was staring at the big 1/2.
“Miss Farrell! Earth to planet Farrell!” This was Mr. Fogarty’s standard ha-ha line for daydreaming students. It was semi-amusing the first time, nine months ago. Now no one laughed. Everyone was watching Tiffany. Her face was Barbie doll blank.
“Hellllooo, Tiffany,” said Mr. Fogarty, waving his arms in slow motion. “Are you near our solar system?”
Tiffany blinked and looked at Mr. Fogarty. “The final is TODAY?”
“Yes, Tiffany, today. Is this a big surprise? Twenty-nine of your fellow students are aware of this. Why aren’t you?” Mr. Fogarty sat down, pulled a stack of test papers out of his briefcase and slapped them on his desk.
“Mr. Fogarty!” wailed Tiffany, as if there was an obvious point he wasn’t getting. “The Cheer Squad is performing for the Humane Society Benefit tonight!”
There was a moment of silence as all eyes turned from Tiffany to Mr. Fogarty. He seemed to be waiting for a point.
Tiffany flapped her hands. “It’s a MAJOR performance for a HUGE charity! It’s a BENEFIT! The HUMANE Society!” Extra emphasis on the key words might help Mr. Fogarty understand.
“Yes,” said Mr. Fogarty. “The Humane Society. A worthwhile organization. But I’m failing to see the connection...”
“Mr. Fogarty, I’m the Cheer Team LEADER. I’ve been rehearsing my girls EVERY DAY for TWO WEEKS! It’s a MAJOR PERFORMANCE! Don’t you SEE?”
Mr. Fogarty finally saw. “Ah! Yes, I see. You’ve been so busy rehearsing, you didn’t have time to study for this test.”
“Well, Tiffany, when you took on the job of Team Leader, you knew that your studies would always have to come first. I’m afraid --”
Tiffany stepped quickly to Mr. Fogarty’s desk and stood directly over him. “Mr. Fogarty, can we take this test tomorrow?”
A murmur rippled across the room.
“What? No, Tiffany, we can NOT take --”
“I don’t mean can we. I mean, is it possible that this test could be given tomorrow instead of today? Is there a reason it has to be today?”
Mr. Fogarty looked up at Tiffany. She was standing right next to his chair. He picked up the tests and shuffled them, tapping them on his desk. “Well, no, there’s no reason it has to be today, but I--”
Tiffany put her hands on Mr. Fogarty’s desk and leaned close to him. “Mr. Fogarty,” she said, in her little kitty purr, “If tonight’s performance goes perfectly, it will help hundreds of homeless pets. Compared to that, what’s a one day delay of a test?” Someone near the back of the room mewed and several students chuckled. Tiffany straightened up and faced the class.
“How many of you are ready for this final?” She looked around the classroom. Bernice had her hand up.
“How many of you could use another day to study?” Two dozen hands shot into the air. Tiffany turned to Mr. Fogarty.
“See? I’m not the only one stressed out by finals and year-end activities. We could all use a breather.”
“Listen to me, Tiffany,” said Mr. Fogarty, “While I sympathize with the plight of homeless puppies and stressed students, I have certain--”
He stopped because Tiffany did something that amazed everyone. She knelt on one knee beside Mr. Fogarty’s chair, looked up at his mustache and began pleading.
“Mr. Fogarty, don’t be a typical teacher. Be more. Be our friend. I’m begging you -- please.” She put her hands prayer-like to her lips.
“Please,” she whispered.
You could have heard a feather drop. Mr. Fogarty shifted in his chair and shuffled the tests again. He cleared his throat.
“One day, that’s all,” he said, barely audible.
A cheer broke across the room. Tiffany jumped to her feet, doing a snappy cheerleader leap, skirt flipping, flashing blue underpants.
“Give me an “F!” she sang, forming an F with her arms.
“F!” called back the class.
“Gimme an “O!”
“Gimme an “A-R-T-Y!”
“What’s that spell?”
There was some confusion. A few students called out “FARTY!”
“What’s that SPELL?” sang Tiffany, hands on hips, feet together.
Uncertain mumbles. “Froggy..”
Tiffany leapt into the air, arched her back gracefully, landed in a full split, raised her arms and yelled “YAAAY!” The class erupted into vigorous applause and whoops. Several boys near the back stood up to see Tiffany’s pose on the floor.
Mr. Fogarty was nine shades of red. “Ok, class, let’s have quiet! Quiet! Don’t take advantage of my generosity by wasting your time or I’ll simply begin the test immediately!” The class grew instantly silent. “I expect you to use what’s left of this period to study for the final, which WILL be tomorrow, regardless of homeless animals or, or... cheerleaders!”
Books opened. Tiffany jumped up and strode proudly to her desk amid admiring eyes. Several students whispered “Thanks!” Luann, who’d barely studied for this test herself, wanted to thank Tiffany, too.
Except she hated her so much.
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