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March 20, 2023

I, Muffin 8

By Leo Siegel and Ron Singer

Chapter Eight: The Big Picnic (1)

Summer was drawing to an end. One afternoon, when they were in Bagel's room playing "Baked Superheroes," Muffin had an idea.

"Yay, I just zapped a cosmic doughnut, " he said. "Time out! Hey, Bagel, let's invite everyone to a giant picnic in the park. We should do it soon, before Leo has to go back to school."

"Great idea," said Bagel. "I have a related idea." Bagel always had a related idea. "We'll organize games, and you and I can compete in those, instead of fighting another round of our stupid argument."

"Excellent!" said Muffin.

Sitting down at Bagel's table, they began writing out lists for the picnic. First, they made the guest list. When they were finished, Bagel realized they had not included Cupcake. Aside from mentioning her as the prior occupant of Bagel's room, and saying that she was pretty, Muffin had never told him anything about her. Bagel was curious.

"Let's not forget Cupcake, Muff," he said. "This will be a chance for you guys to renew your acquaintance. And I know just how to find her." Rolling over to Muffin's desktop, they searched "Cupcake" on the Facebake site. Although there were 427 "Cupcakes," the photographs allowed them to identify the one that Muffin had known: small, devil's-food body, lemon-frosting hair, pleated white skirt.

It turned out that this particular Cupcake lived only a mile or so from the Bakery Building, on the other side of the park. Muffin did not object when Bagel suggested they send her an e-vite, along with everyone else.

Next they made a list of games and toys for the picnic. This one was easy: three-legged races, pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey, water balloons, soccer balls, Spaldeens, Nerf footballs, and so forth. Most of what they needed, they either had already, or could easily buy at hardware or sporting goods stores.

When they had finished writing the second list, the baked buddies paused. They knew the third list would be the hard one: food and drink. The drinks would not be a problem: beer for the grown-ups, and lemonade, soda, and plenty of cold water and seltzer for everyone. They even remembered to make a fourth list, this one of cups, plates, plastic ware, napkins, and tablecloths, all of which they could buy at the party store. Then, they paused again, looking silently across the table at each other.

"Now for the hard part, Muffin finally said.

"I know," said Bagel, "the food." As usual, he got right to the point. "Do we include baked goods, and, if so, which ones?"

"Hmm," said Muffin," scratching his head, "that's the big question. I think we have to include every baked good we can think of. We can just let the guests choose the ones they want."

"Right," agreed Bagel. "Either that ... or no baked goods at all."

"How can we serve hot dogs and hamburgers without buns?" Muffin pointed out.

"Correct," said Bagel. He thought for a moment, and then whispered a solution to the problem into Muffin's ear.

"You're a genius, Bagey!" exclaimed Muffin. "I tip my top to you." And he did.

The day of the picnic arrived. So many guests had RSVP'd "Yes" that, at the last minute, Muffin and Bagel had to buy more of everything. Since it was a very hot day, they added many bottles of drinks. Several of the guests had also promised to bring along homemade food dishes and to come early to help set up.

"That's what friends are for," said Bagel.

"Speaking of friends, I wonder if Fox will come," said Muffin. And he also wondered if he should bring along his shocking cage. But he decided against it, for two reasons. They already had too much to carry, and he realized he would not be able to help run the picnic from inside a cage. So he decided he would have to rely on the other guests to keep Fox from playing his nasty tricks.

"I thought foxes were supposed to be smart," said Bagel, "but this one sounds like a dope." Muffin did not reply. He wondered what Bagel would do if Fox snuck up and tried to eat him. Bagel talked a good game.

Article © Leo Siegel and Ron Singer. All rights reserved.
Published on 2020-01-20
Image(s) © Sand Pilarski. All rights reserved.
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