Meh and Bleh
( Language) It was as certain as the sun rising in the east or old man Parker’s dog barking at the moon. Every first day of school for Mr. Livingston’s thirty-two years of teaching 6th Grade at Lincoln Elementary would begin the same way. The students stood at their desks, recited their names, and gave a brief description of their families, their pets, likes and dislikes, and any hobbies. He believed it was a beneficial exercise for both himself and all the students.
Mr. Livingston thought he was seeing double- two boys, identical twins, seated side by side in the front row- disheveled blond hair, deep blue eyes, and both wearing ill-fitting plaid shirts and faded jeans. They both even seemed to bear identical dirt smudge marks on their faces. Their expressions were the same, and their eyes seemed to move in unison. It was…uncanny.
“I’m Susie Larson. My dad is a fireman, my mom drives a school bus, I have a dog- Scooter, I like ice cream, I don’t like peas, and I play volleyball.”
“Very nice, Susie. Next…”
And so it went, down to the final two- the twins.
“My name is Meh Blasé, my dad drinks a lot, my mom doesn’t do shit, Uncle Harry shot my dog, and I don’t like anyone or anything.”
Stunned…Mr. Livingston and students alike.
“Young man! We don’t use that kind of language in this classroom.”
“I do. In fact, I just did.”
“After our last student, we are going to pay a visit to the Principal’s office, young man! Ok, proceed.”
“My name is Bleh Blasé, my dad drinks a lot, my mom doesn’t do shit, Uncle Harry shot my dog, and I don’t like anyone or anything.”
“That’s it, both of you to the Principal’s office.”
“So, your family must be new to the district.”
“Yeah, we got kicked out of the last one.”
“And the family name is Blasé?”
“Yes, it’s French.”
The answers came in stereo. Both boys gave identical responses to Principal Haines’ inquiries at the same time.
“And your first names are also a little unusual. Your name is Meh?”
“No, I’m Bleh. He’s Meh. I guess when they asked my Dad what they wanted to name us, he really didn’t care, so he mumbled something like meh and bleh, so the lady wrote that down.”
“Are you serious?”
“Does the Pope shit in the woods?”
“Gentlemen! We will not tolerate that kind of language! I’m going to call your parents!”
“Good luck with that.”
“And besides, it wasn’t the Pope…it was a bear.”
“That’s the funny part, sir.”
“It’s not funny.”
Lincoln Elementary had never seen students like this- disrespectful, uncooperative, dirty, and.. smelly. Most described the odor as “Eau de cow manure” while some tagged it as a rare blend of stale beer, cigarette smoke, and yesterday’s urine. Mr. Livingston mercifully rotated the class seating arrangement so that no student had to spend more than two consecutive days in close proximity to the malodorous two.
One morning the entire class was laughing and giggling when Mr. Livingston entered the room. Crude as the chalked mural on the blackboard was, the depiction was discernable- a man with a pointy hat…in the woods…pooping.
Mr. Livingston frantically erased the drawing and turned back to the class.
“I think I know who did this, but I’ll ask you all anyway. Did you do this, or do you know who did?”
“Mr. Livingston, I saw Meh go back to the classroom after dismissal yesterday, and…or was it Bleh? It was one of them, sir.”
“Thank you, Patricia. Ok, which one of you did it.”
Like choreographed dancers, Meh and Bleh simultaneously pointed at each other. Mr. Livingston had just been introduced to the confounding dilemma that would plague him and the Principal for the rest of the year- who dunnit?
“And you say one of these two boys drew the disgusting picture?”
“Yes, Mr. Haines, I have a witness, and it’s the sort of thing they would do.”
“So, which one of you did it?”
The boys immediately responded with the same cross-finger pointing as they both declared with volume and sincerity in their voices, “He did it!”
This was indeed a puzzlement for Mr. Livingston and Principal Haines. They knew they had the guilty party sitting before them, but they also were looking at an innocent boy. Thirty minutes of intense interrogation didn’t move the ball, and the boys went back to class.
“I’m not sure what to do here. I don’t know if I can punish them both.”
“You’re the Principal. Sure you can. Punish the little bastards. The kid that didn’t do it deserves it for a whole bunch of other shit they’ve done.”
“Mr. Livingston. We don’t use that kind of language here.”
The boys were each other's perfect alibi. If Meh was doing the mischief, Bleh was noticeably in the presence of Mr. Livingston. If Bleh was the culprit, Meh never lost eye contact with the increasingly irritated Mr. Livingston. The guilty party could never be determined.
“That sure is a mighty fine watch, Mr. Livingston.”
“Uh…thank you Meh…or Bleh. And why aren’t you outside for recess?”
The piercing shrill sound of the fire alarm answered his question.
“We better beat it out of here, Mr. Livingston!”
With that, Meh…or Bleh raced out of the building and quickly blended in with the other curious students. Once it was determined it was a false alarm, the students returned to their classes, all save Meh and Bleh who once again sat before Principal Haines. Despite three very credible eyewitness accounts that it was either Meh or Bleh who pulled the alarm, the rap couldn’t be pinned on either one. Mr. Livingston’s brain was close to exploding as he watched Meh and Bleh exit his office looking like two Chesire Cats. Kids love getting away with stuff. The pleasure is greatly enhanced when the adult world knows you did it…sort of knows you did it, and you still get away with it.
A reign of terror the likes of which would never be again experienced at Lincoln Elementary followed:
- A stink bomb in the boys’ bathroom.
- A horde of toads in the cafeteria.
- A rat turned loose in the faculty lounge.
- “School is closed” signs greeting all arrivals one morning.
- Glue in the class pencil sharpener.
- A Whoopee cushion placed under the pad on Mr. Livingston’s chair- twice.
“We’ve got to do something about the Blasé boys. I suggest the first step would be a meeting with their parents.”
“Yes, Mr. Livingston, ask them to come in.”
“Mr. Blasé, we also have a problem with your boys’ language.”
“What are you talking about? Meh and Bleh talk as good as me and my old lady here. We learn ‘em talkin’ stuff at home all the time.”
“No, when I say their language, I mean they both are prone to use bad words, obscenities if you will.”
“No way, not my two little angels, Meh and Bleh, would never use bad language. I don’t know where they would even pick up any naughty words.”
“Well, I’m sorry, Mrs. Blasé, but just this morning one of the students was handing out cupcakes for her birthday, and one of the boys said, ‘That looks like a piece of shit’ to the little girl.”
“Well, fuck him then, don’t give him any.”
“Yeah, I don’t think we’re going to get a lot of help from their parents.”
“You’re right, Mr. Livingston. If we could just bust one of them, just once, but we can never figure out which is the guilty party.”
“I have an idea, sir.”
“What is it?”
“We put a big ‘X’ on one of their foreheads every morning. That way we can tell them apart so we’ll know who did it. I suggest a Sharpie, sir. That stuff is a bitch to get off.”
“Language, Mr. Livingston.”
“But we won’t know who is who to begin with. Does Meh have the scarlet letter or is it Bleh?”
“It wouldn’t have to be scarlet, sir. It could be blue or…”
“The color wouldn’t matter, Mr. Livingston. We still wouldn’t know who has the ‘X’.”
“I see what you mean, sir. Wait! I have another good idea. How about we insert one of those little tracking devices in their ears like they do with dogs or cats? Then we’ll know who committed the dastardly deed. And it won’t matter if it’s Meh or Bleh. The guilty will be punished!”
“Uh…I don’t think we can do that, Mr. Livingston.”
“Lie detectors, sir?”
“I don’t think so.”
Staredowns became regular, Mr. Livingston vs. the evil twins. He would glare, glower, frown, and scowl. The steely stare of the twins never changed, and it was always Mr. Livingston who flinched. The insult to injury came when the twins high-fived each other and gave Livingston the old donkey ears.
He about couldn’t stand it. A magna cum laude graduate from a prestigious university sporting a Masters's degree in education constantly outmaneuvered by two little 6th Grade rapscallions who could barely “talk good.”
All efforts to catch either one of the bad actors having failed, he would resort to his one remaining option; he would cheat. How’s that? Mr. Livingston had watched his share of TV crime shows, so he was familiar with two mainstay tools of law enforcement- entrapment and planting evidence. He experienced a couple of pangs of conscience, but he knew his cause was just; the ends justify the means.
“Class, this is a model airplane I built myself. (It wasn’t.) I have to go to the office for something. (He didn’t.) You can look at it while I’m gone but don’t touch it. I’m very proud of it (He wasn’t.), and I wouldn’t want anything to happen to it while I’m gone… (He was hoping it would be destroyed.)…which will be for a good ten minutes. So, I’m leaving now, and I’ll be gone for at least ten minutes.”
Mr. Livingston smiled as he strode up and down the hallway. Unbeknownst to the children, he had coated the plane with indelible ink. When he returned he expected the model plane to be in shambles, and the hands of one or both of the Blasé twins to be stained with the mark of the guilty. Upon returning to the classroom, he was crestfallen when he saw the plane fully intact. He collapsed back into his chair when Meh and Bleh raised their squeaky clean hands in the air with taunting waves and laughed the laugh of the victor. Frustration turned to anger when he later attempted to get up and realized his pants were super glued to his chair.
Many other attempts to bait the devious duo into provable culpability likewise resulted in humiliating failure. He tried any number of alluring props- candy, donuts, his lunch, upcoming tests, and two crisp one-dollar bills. At every turn, Meh and Bleh outwitted the befuddled teacher.
Time to go rogue. Mr. Livingston abandoned all sense of decency and fair play and schemed to plant incriminating evidence in the desks of the troublesome two. Try #1- sustained painful injury to fingers from rat trap in Meh’s desk…or was it Bleh’s desk? Try #2- sustained painful bites to fingers from ornery ferret concealed in the other twin’s desk. Try #3- abandoned out of fear of potential adverse consequences.
Desperation. Mr. Livingston enlisted the services of two boys, who also despised the tormenting twins, to write “Haines is a turd-bag” on the sidewalks around the school, filmed the entire sordid episode, and then attempted to photoshop the faces of the twins into the film. But lacking the requisite computer skills to arrive at credible “caught-in-the-act” proof, he grudgingly gave up on the unsavory effort.
Sensing weakness and vulnerability, the twins turned up the heat- 100 crickets chirping their brains out in the classroom; bats terrorizing the airspace; stinky dog poop in Mr. Livingston’s wastebasket; the introduction of high-tech remote control fart machines to replace the primitive Whoopee Cushion gag. Livingston was ready to crack.
It was an alarming sight that greeted Principal Haines that memorable morning. Mr. Livingston was stumbling around the hallway, arms outstretched Frankenstein-like, muttering “Kill the twins, kill the twins, I must kill the twins.”
“Herb! What are you doing?!”
“Kill the twins. I must kill the twins.”
Nearly the entire school’s population stood in shock and awe as Mr. Livingston was led away. Two little 6th Graders could only smile.
Today Mr. Livingston spends his time gazing out the window of his room at the Sunnyside Rest Home for Those Who Have Gone Woo-Woo. It is disturbing to staff that his walls are plastered with crude drawings of two boys with knives, hatchets, and hammers sticking out of their heads.