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A Whole Nother Story

Some Much Needed Advice on Tattoos

There was a time, it seemed, that if you encountered someone with a tattoo, you could pretty much assume they were either a sailor or had, at one time or another, been in prison. There was something, it seemed, about men being cooped up together that made them want to draw on themselves. 

But lately, it's become more and more difficult to distinguish sailors and ex-convicts from regular folks as it seems that everyone, these days, is getting a tattoo.

People who get tattoos are likely to say it is a great way to express their individuality. But, before you decide to express your individuality by doing what everyone else is doing, be forewarned that tattoos are permanent. 

What then if you happen to choose a tattoo that seems like a good idea at the time but one day outlives its usefulness?

For instance, I am acquainted with a young woman named Lois who was so enamored of her fiancé, Jack, that she thought it might be nice to surprise him by having the words I Love Jack tattooed in bright red ink, on her right shoulder blade.

Two days later, Jack surprised Lois by marrying someone else. And so, because tattoos are permanent, she was forced to return to the tattoo parlor and have the words I love Jack altered to read I love flapjacks.

That was some time ago. Since then Lois has gotten over Jack and is currently back on the dating scene, though she finds that all of her suitors end up taking her to dinner at the local pancake house.

This goes to show you that the only place you should ever have anyone's name written in indelible ink is on the waistband of your underwear. And then it should be your own name as having someone else's name on your underwear would be both odd and highly inappropriate. 

The point is that tattoos are permanent. Underwear is not.

Still, it seems that these days, tattoos are outselling underwear two-to-one. As popular as they might be, I would advise against getting one at all costs. Because, as with my pancake-loving friend Lois, or with our sweaty, hollow-cheeked non-friend, Mr. 5, there will come a day when you will most assuredly regret having it. This I absolutely guarantee or my name isn't...wait a minute. This is not my underwear.

Chapter Four

The hot afternoon sun seemed to melt the horizon like a gooey, grilled cheese sandwich as the white station wagon rumbled down the two-lane highway.

Mr. Cheeseman and his family had been driving for nearly seven hours now and, in that time, they had driven past several hundred gas stations, several thousand telephone poles, the world's largest hat, the world's smallest chicken, the Table Tennis Hall of Fame, eighty-seven truck stops, Cleveland and, just a moment ago, the National Center for Unsolicited Advice.

I could clearly see them from the window of my palatial, well-appointed office as they rumbled down the narrow highway, flanked on either side by grassy fields, home to hundreds of happily grazing black and white cows.

For some reason, known only to himself, eight year-old Gerard LaFontaine removed the over-sized wad of bubblegum from his mouth, stuck his head out the window, circled his hands around his mouth and yelled, “Mooooo.”

The cows, for the most part, ignored young Gerard, though one of the least intelligent of the herd did turn toward the car with a quizzical look that seemed to say “Dad? Is that you?”

Maggie turned to her younger brother and scoffed.

“Exactly what do you hope to accomplish by doing that?”

“Just making conversation,” said Gerard. 

“Well you do look kind of like a cow, gnawing away on that giant wad of goop.”

“It’s not goop, it’s bubblegum. And I have to chew it. It helps me think. I can’t concentrate without it.”

“That’s ridiculous.”

“Not really,” said Mr. Cheeseman. “The results of a recent study showed a thirty-five percent increase in long and short term memory in subjects who chewed gum.”

Gerard turned and looked at Maggie with enough smugness to make his point but not enough to get smacked across the chest.

“It also increases alertness,” continued Mr. Cheeseman. “I’ll take a piece if you can spare one, Gerard.”

“Dad, if you’re getting tired, I could drive for awhile,” said Jough.

It was true that Mr. Cheeseman had taught his son to drive when Jough was just twelve years old. This may seem like a highly irresponsible thing for a parent to do but, in their current situation, Ethan weighed the risks and thought this would be a good skill for Jough to have. That way, if anything were to happen to Ethan, Jough would be able to drive Gerard and Maggie to safety or to get help.

“It’s okay, Jough. I’ll let you know if I need your help. But thanks anyway.”

“No problem,” said Jough, barely hiding his disappointment.

“When are we gonna get there, anyway?” asked Gerard, handing his father a piece of gum.

“It's hard to say,” said Mr. Cheeseman. “Considering the fact that I'm not sure exactly where we're going.”

“Maybe this time we could stay long enough that I could try out for summer league baseball,” Jough said.

“That would be nice,” said Mr. Cheeseman. “I'd like to see you use that screwball I taught you.”

“I'd like to continue my archery lessons,” said Maggie.

“I'd like to join the Cub Scouts,” said Gerard.

“I'd like to get a paper route,” said Steve.

“Grrrr,” Pinky growled at the one-eyed sock puppet.

“I'm hoping we can do all those things,” said Mr. Cheeseman. “Believe me, I'm just as tired of this lifestyle as you are. But you all know why we have to live this way, so let's just make the most of it and hope that it will all be over soon.”

Excerpted from A WHOLE NOTHER STORY © Copyright 2012 by Dr. Cuthbert Soup. Reprinted with permission by Bloomsbury USA Children's Books. All rights reserved.

A Whole Nother Story
by by Dr. Cuthbert Soup

  • paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
  • ISBN-10: 1599905183
  • ISBN-13: 9781599905181