One of our extremely advanced reading class assignments was to write a play. Mrs. Donnelly selected two of the plays to be performed by us at a lunchtime assembly. One involved a Sherlock Holmes type—portrayed by my one true love, Sig—who solved a mystery. (My friend Becca was cast as a maid in this one, and Mrs. Donnelly quickly offered up an outfit—apparently the Donnellys had a cache of maid uniforms at home for the purpose of attiring the hired help at their many soirees. We found this revelation appalling.) The other play involved girls who got hooked on some amazingly tasty candy that was—surprise, kids!—DRUGS.
I think I mentioned all of this during the discussion of Gymnastics Camp, but I've since realized that I was getting my plays confused. The play I actually entered in our class-wide competition was not about obnoxious young back-flippers, but about fifth graders involved in spreading the world's most uninteresting gossip. I'm not being modest when I say it displays neither giftedness nor talent.
No, the secret is not that Nancy (on the left) was born without a forehead, neck, or shoulders. Everyone knows that! Nor is the secret that Cara (on the right) is stepping on Nancy's foot. That's totally obvs! But, you guys, whatever the secret is, it must be REALLY, REALLY JUICY, right? Because Cara looks shocked! Absolutely shocked!
Title: The Big Secret
Cast of Characters:
Setting (Time and Place): Outside the school.
Narrator: Nancy has a big secret. She wasn't going to tell anyone, but she feels like she has to.
Nancy: (coming over to Cara, Adam, Jodie, and Ben) Listen. Cara, I have something to tell you. It's a big secret, so come over here. (Nancy and Cara walk away) My mom is going to have triplets!
Wait, WHAT? Why on earth does Cara find triplets so alarming? Could it be because Nancy, who has no arms of her own, likes to gnaw on baby limbs? (I mean, that's what's going on in that illustration, right?)
Cara: Nancy, that's great! Wait'll I tell Jodie. She'll never believe it!
Nancy: No, Cara! It's a secret. My mom wants it to be a surprise. She told me not to tell anybody, but I had to tell somebody.
How do you surprise people with triplets? "Oh, what, you guys thought I was having ONE baby? Well, I totally had THREE! BOOYAH, suckers!"
Cara: O.K. I swear I won't tell anybody. (Walk back over to the group)
Jodie: What did Nancy want?
Cara: Come here. (Walk away with Jodie) You'll never believe it! Nancy's mom is going to have triplets!
Jodie: "But doesn't Nancy like to eat babies?"
Cara: "Yeah, that's probably why they're having so many."
Cara: "Yeah, that's probably why they're having so many."
Wow, Cara let the cat out of the bag AND lost her socks in a total of 5 seconds. And now she's... uh... impersonating Popeye??
Jodie: You're kidding! How cool! I have to tell Adam and Ben.
I think I eased up on the illustrations when I realized I would soon have to depict Adam and Ben. I was allergic to drawing boys.
Cara: No, Jodie. You can't. I swore I wouldn't tell anyone. Nancy will kill me if she finds out I told you.
Yes, PLEASE tell me there's going to be a murder in this play!
Jodie: Don't worry, Cara. Adam can keep a secret. I just won't tell Ben.
Cara: O.K. Just make sure Ben doesn't find out. Then the whole school will know. (Walks over to Adam and Ben) Adam, Jodie wants you.
Adam: (walks over to Jodie) What?
Jodie: Can you keep a secret?
Jodie: Nancy's mom is going to have triplets!
Adam: Awesome! My sister had twins.
Jodie: Two is nothing compared to three.
I love how Jodie says this like she has been there. Also, were triplets really this exciting in fifth grade, or had Ann M. Martin seriously warped my brain? Wouldn't the more likely reaction be something like: "My house is going to be filled with three crying babies instead of one? I hate you, mom and dad! I'm running away!"
Oh yes, running away would definitely improve this play. As would some sweet, sweet candy drugs—which might just induce a homicidal rage! Nancy would then, of course, have to hide the corpses in her secret passage. Now THAT would be a big secret. I am so rewriting this.
On a side note, I just Googled "Pike triplets" (yes, yes I did) and I found this article about some real-life Pike triplets who have "almond-shaped eyes." I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP. Article was clearly written by one of the BSC's ghostwriters.
Adam: I have to tell Ben.
Because nothing is more exciting to a 10-year-old boy than finding out his classmate's mom is going to pop out three little ones!
Jodie: No way. I told Cara I wouldn't tell Ben. He has such a big mouth.
Adam: None of my friends have big mouths, except for you and Cara. (Walks over to Ben and Cara) Come on, Ben. (Walks away with Ben)
Cara: (runs over to Jodie) What are they saying?
Jodie: How should I know?
Not only are they gossip mongers, they're also idiots.
Adam: Ben, I'm telling you this because Jodie said you have a big mouth.
Ben: I do not!
Adam: Exactly. That's why I'm telling you.
That Adam, he's a
Ben: Telling me what?
Adam: That Nancy's mom is having triplets.
Ben: Right now?
Adam: I guess.
Ben: Well, come how Nancy's at school?
Adam: I don't know. Why don't you ask her?
Ben: O.K. I will. (Walks over to Nancy) Hi, Nancy.
Nancy: Hi, Ben.
Ben: Why are you at school if you're mom's at the hospital.
Nancy: My mom's not sick.
Ben: I know.
Nancy: Then why would she be at the hospital?
Ben: I thought she was having triplets.
Nancy: (screams) CARA!
Kill, Nancy! KILL! KILL!
Cara: (runs over) What?
Nancy: (walks away with Cara) Why did you tell Ben about my mom.
Cara: I didn't. I would never tell Ben. He has such a big mouth.
Um, Cara? You might not want to throw stones when you're living in a loose-lipped house of your own there.
Nancy: Who did you tell?
Nancy: (Runs over to Jodie) Why did you tell Ben about my mom.
Jodie: What's wrong with your mom?
Nancy: You know.
Way too play it cool, Jodie. She'll never suspect!
Nancy: Come on, Jodie. Cara told me she told you.
Jodie: O.K. She did.
Nancy: Why did you tell Ben?
Jodie: Ben? Big-mouth Ben? No way. I told Adam. I bet he told Ben. Even after I told him not to.
OMG, because who would do THAT?
Nancy: (Runs over to Adam) Why did you tell Ben about my mom?
Adam: How come you're here if your mom is having babies.
Nancy: She isn't. Why did you tell Ben?
Adam: Because he's my friend. Besides, Jodie said he had a big mouth.
Nancy: That's no reason.
(Bell rings. Everyone goes inside.)
DUN DUN DUUUUUUNNNN! What a cliffhanger!
Setting: Nancy's house
Narrator: Nancy decides to tell her mom why the whole school knows she's having triplets.
That's right, the entire elementary school is abuzz with the baby news. They can't WAIT! The computer club is probably printing up an über-pixelated "WELCOME TRIPLETS" banner on a roll of perforated paper AS WE SPEAK.
Nancy: (walks into the room) Hi, mom.
Mom: Hi, Nancy. How was school?
Nancy: Well, mom. You know how you told me about the triplets?
Mom: Yes. I know I can trust you.
Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. Oh, sorry.
Nancy: Maybe you can't.
Mom: What do you mean?
Nancy: I couldn't keep a secret, Mom. I told my friend, Cara.
Mom: One person can't hurt.
"I can still shock everyone else with my amazing ability to procreate! BOW BEFORE MY FERTILE AND SPACIOUS WOMB! BOOOOOOOW!"
Nancy: Yeah, but then Cara told Jodie and Jodie told Adam and Adam told Ben and Ben told the rest of the school.
Mom: I guess it won't be a surprise.
Because the elementary school population was definitely the prime target from which to keep this secret.
Nancy: You're not mad.
Mom: No, I think you've learned your lesson. Next time you'll know better. I still trust you, Nance.
What lesson? That it's totally cool to break someone's trust as long as you only tell ONE person (and that one person isn't Big-Mouth Ben)?
Nancy: You're the best mom in the world.
Narrator: The end.
Then, because you'd obviously want to know more about the literary genius who came up with this ground-breaking plot:
About the Author
Sada is 11½ years old and in the fifth grade at Fairfax Elementary School. She likes to read, write and draw. Sada also enjoys ice skating and swimming. She likes arts and crafts as well. She lives with her mother, her father, sister, brother, turtle, Jaws, and the guinea pigs, Baby, Rosie, and Peachy.
The turtle's name was Jaws. I did not live with the island-terrorizing great white shark.
NEXT TIME: If I can find it, the CANDY CRACK play! If not, something else.