Once upon a great time ago, there was a weasel named Snovlin. Except he was whiny and pathetic so everyone called him Sniveling Weasel. He was a purple and reddish weasel, with two eyes and a mouthful of tiny sharp teeth. One day his mother said, “My Boy, I think it’s time you go to school. Mostly because I can’t stand your face!”
So he packed his bag like the sniveling weasel he was. He packed a tiny sharp teeth toothbrush, a lemon juice parfait, three waffles, a crayon, his tire swing, no pants, because he was a weasel, and a stuffed panda named Bernard.
“Wahhh!” He said, in a howling manner, chilling to the bones. “ I do not wish to leave this home, ugly and ill mannered as it is!” But he didn’t get much further because his mother whacked him with a cheese block she had found in the parking lot by Wilfred’s.
“Get yourself out of here, you little twerp!”
And the little twerp did just that. He saw that there was a school bus rolling by, and so he began to run, trying in vain to catch it. Eventually, he got stuck in the wheel, and his head was churned to butterflies, but the bus did stop on account of it couldn’t move with weasel head butterflies in the wheel.
“Oh no! There is a weasel churned up in my school bus wheel! Whatever shall I do?”
Sniveling wasn’t dead yet! Even though his head was churned to butterflies, he had his soul and voice box intact.
“I want to go to school!”
“Ehh. Why not? I’m sure the kids would love you. Class Seven needs a new pet.”
“But I don’t want to be a pet! I want to go to school like a normal child! Equal opportunities! Rights for weasels!”
“Well, there certainly seems to be a lot of rights these days; I guess one more won’t hurt. Climb in.”
Sniveling climbed in, and hid his face in a paper bag because the little kids shrieked when they saw his poor torn up face.
The ride to school was a long one for Sniveling, because the boy sitting next to him kept asking to see his face, but Sniveling thought he would just tease him and shook the butterfly-head.
When the driver pulled up at the school he said, Follow Anderson there!”
The “cool kid” said, “Hey, I’m Anderson, but you can call me Bert if you let me see your face.”
Sniveling thought it might be easier in the long run to say Bert rather than Anderson, and so he took the paper bag off his nonexistent head.
Bert gasped in horror, but then said, “I guess you can’t help it."
Classroom Seven was, to say the least, shocked at the sight of Sniveling in his paper bag. The teacher was not a tolerant person, and he was a long time member of the Human Supremacy Against Weasels Club. So he tried his best to discriminate against Sniveling.
“Hello, there. My name is Mr. Teacher. You are new, yes? Anyway. You have to sit at the back of the class with the losers. And don’t think you get to go to lunch or recess with the others. You are not an equal. You are less than us. Don’t forget.” Except he didn’t say it so blatantly.
But Sniveling got his gist very well, for though he was a little twerp he was rather smart, and instead of sitting down in the back with the losers he decided to sit down right by his new friend Bert and a tremendously gorgeous cheerleader named Sabouri Rettlenbacher. She leaned close to Sniveling, her breath aflame with the scent of pineapple and kiwi, and said, “You’ve got some guts, man.” Then she smiled and flipped her hair. “It’s cool that you’re here.” Sniveling smiled. He could get used to this school.
“Hey, this is my girlfriend, Sabouri. Sniveling, meet Sabouri, Sabouri, meet Sniveling. I met him on the school bus.”
Sniveling tried to smile back at Sabouri, but his teeth fell onto her desk and she yelled in surprise.
This brought Mr. Teacher to their cluster of tables. He was fuming. “All weasels are good for nothing creeps! You watch it, Mister! We won’t have creatures like you behaving this way towards our upstanding young women! Four days of detention, and pick up your teeth.”
Sniveling would have cried then, but he couldn’t. He could, instead, pick up his teeth, which he did, and apologize to Sabouri, which he did also. She smiled, a little weakly, it seemed.
And when Mr. Teacher called, “Ok, everybody, open up the History books,” Sabouri slid hers over and let Sniveling read hers.
“Ok,” said Mr. Teacher. “Get up and tell us about the Weasel Wars, and why the humans won, and if there was another War, why the humans would win again.”
“Because they’re bigger, have guns and bombs, are heartless, and only started the war in the first place because they ran out of people to fight with?”
Mr. Teacher blinked. He hadn’t been expecting that one. Then again, Mr. Teacher wasn’t expecting a weasel in his classroom either. “You are a disgrace to our dimension.”
“You can join the club, Mr. Teacher.” It was Bert who said that, and it seemed that he had had quite enough from his preposterously discriminating teacher for the day. “I think you’re acting like this because you don’t eat enough fiber. That’s right, Mr. Teacher. You’re constipated.”
Sabouri jumped up on her desk. “Hallelujah! I agree wholly with my boyfriend here! He is absolutely activist! Righteous!” She accidentally bounced a bit too much, though, and ended up toppling Sniveling across the room and right into the arms of Stocking Magalistar, the classroom oddity.
She was sitting in the back row, her long blue hair tangled and knitted up in a variety of assorted braids and twists. Her arms were covered, all the way to the elbows, with bracelets, fat and skinny and spangly and plain, from Africa and Asia and Svalbard. She had wildly different colored eyes, and they sparkled with the night of days. One was greener than the other, and the other was a dark ivy color. Her jeans were splashed and splattered with rainbows of paint and parades of glitter. She wore a tight black shirt tucked into those pants, and on that shirt was a single word. It read, in small, pointy, swirly italics, Here.
She smacked her baloney flavored gum and looked down at Sniveling. “Well. Welcome to the real world.” Then she chunked him back across the room. She sat back down. Weasels were weird. They didn’t belong in school with people like Bert and Sabouri, but neither did she. Sniveling forgot all about Stocking until lunch, when she came up and yanked him backwards into the library.
“Hey, little twerp,” she said. As Sniveling loved his mother even though she was a horrible tyrannical witch, and it was his mother who called him Twerp, he instantly liked Stocking. “You didn’t tell me your name.”
Sniveling said, “You didn’t let me before you chunked me across the room!”
Stocking laughed. Her laughter was like a hyena’s; uneven and chittery and very satisfying. “Touche. Well, I’m Stocking Magalistar.”
“I’m Sniveling the Weasel, but you can call me…” he paused to think up a super cool name, and his eyes fell on an open copy of Moby Dick, “Ishmael. Ish.”
“Okay, Ish, how come you’re here? Before you answer that, show me what’s under your bag.”
Ish hesitated. He’d let Bert because Bert was a boy, but he didn’t want to creep out a rather pretty girl that he was beginning to like.
“Well… Um. It’s kind of like a horror film. You probably will scream.”
“Do I look like a screaming type of girl?” Stocking thumped Sniveling across the paper bag. “I’m not. And maybe you didn’t notice, but I’m not exactly a super model either. We could make a club; just you and me. The Horribles.”
“I don’t think you’re horrible. I think you’re lovely.”
“Really? Because, Twerp, if you manipulate me, I’ll manipulate what’s left of your face into the sand box outside.”
“I wouldn’t lie about something like this. My whole appearance changed today, and already I’ve, um, faced horrible discrimination and trials. But this? This is who I am now. Love it or leave it. Or laugh. Or cry. The point is you’re still beautiful, face or not.”
Stocking was having an unanticipated moment of emotion. This was nice. He was really nice. He called her lovely. And he didn’t even know her! But Sniveling did know her, a little bit, because people like Stocking sort of exude their spirits into the air. Stocking had a spirit that sort of did one of two things. It either drew them closer, like a magnet, or sent them skittering away, like a broom. But what it did to Sniveling was a different thing entirely. Her spirit made him feel like a wildfire was racing through his stomach and four different tornadoes were whipping around and around and lifting him off the ground. It made him feel jumpy and calm and it made him feel like a giant bubble of YES was swelling up in his heart and that he could do anything he ever wanted to. This girl was way more than just magnetic.
Stocking smacked him. “Snap out of it, Twerp! I’m trying to ask you something.”
Sniveling started. “Oh. Well. I’m from Weaseltropolis on the other side of the tracks. And my bag? Well. That would be my butterfly face.”
“I won’t laugh at you.” Stocking looked at Sniveling so earnestly, that he reached up and lifted the edge of his paper bag. He wanted Stocking to say it was okay, that he could stop, but she waved her hand for him to keep going. He lifted it up past his snout, and then up, up to his partially scrambled eyes. Stocking didn’t laugh. Instead, she reached her hands out and ever so gently began to remodel Sniveling’s face back into shape. “I’ve never met someone like you, Ishmael. You’re the first weasel I’ve ever met, and so far you make a very good impression.”
Sniveling Ishmael the Weasel wasn’t sure what to say. He pulled the paper bag all the way off his head and set it down on the table. “Thanks.”
“No problem. Hey, do you want to come with me to a rally this weekend? It’s for the lesser animal rights movement.”
“Oh. Um. I’ll have to ask my mom. She might say no, but she also wants me out of the house as much as possible, so I’ll count on yes.”
“Awesome!” Stocking held out her fist. “Hey. Fist bump, yeah?” Sniveling Ishmael nodded. He knocked into her fist with his own little furry one.
“Do you think I’m whiny and pathetic? Because that’s what my mom says. She says it’s whiny that I kept pestering her to let me have friends and lunch all the time, and that it’s pathetic that I wanted to have a stuffed panda named Bernard. She’ll probably be mad that I ruined my head. We don’t have good insurance.”
“What’s your real real name?”
He looked up from the table, where he had been staring, thinking of Stocking’s lovely, different-shaded green eyes, and the last glimpse he had of her was her tangled blue hair whipping around the corner of the library door.
Sniveling followed the hallway until he saw Bert and Sabouri talking to each other over the water fountain.
Once he saw Sniveling, Bert shouted, “There you are! What’s taken you so long? We’re already late and you’re already on bad terms with Mr. Teacher.”
He and Sabouri led Sniveling back to their classroom, where an irate Mr. Teacher had everyone sit down and made Sniveling stand in the corner for tardiness; which Sniveling hated, but when Stocking protested equal rights for all latecomers, half the class, including Stocking, was standing in the now much larger corner, and so Sniveling had a thoroughly delightful afternoon.
It was delightful for several reasons. One, Stocking was in the corner with him, and he could watch her bright spangly arms and twisted-up hair out of the corner of his eye. Two, standing in a corner talking in low voices with Bert and Sabouri and Stocking and half the class about completely random, unrelated topics, was much better than sitting down in a chair for three hours, talking to Mr. Teacher about mathematics and the dull Weasel Wars.
When the final bell rang, Mr. Teacher handed out the homework for the day, a quiz on why the humans won the Weasel Wars and why humans are always superior, even though Sniveling had already answered the first question. And he was pretty sure the answer to the second was because they refuse to believe otherwise.
When he got home, his mother stapled him to the wall and began to question him. “What happened to your face, Twerp Bunny?”
In reply Sniveling said, “How much is face surgery, mother?”
His mother laughed and said, “More than we can afford, twerp.”
Sniveling took off the paper bag.
“Sweet dump cake and a rocka my soul on the forehead of Beyoncé. You are uglier than the time my mamma smiled at me once.” His mother shivered violently. “Hubblebub. That was frightening. But nothing like your FACE! Good crabapple, what would your father say?”
Just then the father of Sniveling and the husband of Sniveling’s mother opened the door and upon seeing the mash ruin that was his son’s upper half of self, yelled “OHHH SNAP.” Then he went and got half a pound of cantaloupe so he could go watch his Korean dramas. He lived for those shows.
“Well. I guess we know what dad thinks about this. He always says the same thing. OHHH SNAP. In all caps!”
“You’re right! He’s a chump. I think you’ve had WAY too much fun at this human school of yours. Tell me this, Twerp. Did you make friends?” Sniveling nodded, thinking of Bert and Stocking. “Was most everyone nice to you?” Sniveling nodded again. “How was lunch?”
“Oh, you know. It was okay. Better than your food, if you know what I mean. And no one whacked me across the head with cheese blocks or stapled me to the wall and questioned me. So I had an almost perfect day. And the reason it was almost perfect is because you are in it!” A burble of fury burbled up in Sniveling’s veins then, and he ripped away from the wall. It hurt horribly, and he let out a scream of pain, but he didn’t have much time to suffer. Father Weasel came out of his room, smelling of cantaloupe and kimchi. He looked from his wife to the open door, to the stapler to the blood spatter on the floor. He looked some more. Sometimes, he thought, living with this weasel was a real chore. But this just rocked him to the core. This animal needed amor. So he went over to his wife, picked her up, and carried her back to the room, where they watched the rest of season nine of Boss In Love With Girl Who is Poor.
But Sniveling Weasel was already gone. He had had enough of that madhouse tour. He stole his parents Segway and headed towards the shore.
He was driving past an enormous mansion with peacocks on the front lawn and great golden pillars out by the golden-speckled driveway when he saw, of all people, Bert! playing basketball on a huge outdoor basketball court in the front yard.
“Hey Bert!’’ called Sniveling through his paper bag.
Bert turned and waved, ‘Come on up, Sniv!’
“Whatcha doing here?”
“I ran away,” replied Sniveling. “I was going to stow away on board a ship headed toward China, but I found you instead. Is this your house?”
Bert looked embarrassed. “Yes. My dad’s a heart surgeon.” and then his eyes lit up, “You want to stay here?”
“If you’ll have me…”
“You could come to school with me! Come on in, I bet my dad knows someone who could fix your face back to normal.”
And so, Bert’s family was able to fix Sniveling’s face with a skilful doctor and quite a bit of bribery.
Sniveling went to school with Bert until (he was a late bloomer) the age of twenty-six, after which he and Stocking went to college. Stocking waited for him all those years, working jobs as a bar mitzvah role player, Waffle House caterer, ice pick artist, waitress for Denny’s, Corner Bakery employee, hand model, hair bow twister, among many other things.
So the moral of the story is to fight for what you want, no matter how many people try to stop you, and to never, ever write someone off for being different in appearance or species. There will always be people like Mr. Teacher and Sniveling’s mother, who will want to squash you into depressive oblivion, but there will also always be people like Bert, who give you new chances to show who you are, and like Stocking, who will love you no matter what.