A Clump of Woops
by Adrian Hoad-Reddick
I have never
met a stranger looking man than Mr. Blunder. It was my brother's
birthday last Wednesday and I met Mr. Blunder the day before that.
My Mom asked me to go to the store to get the ice cream for my brother's
birthday party. I was so happy, because that was the first time
Mom ever thought of letting me go to the store alone, without my
older sister tagging along and helping me cross the street and carrying
the money and the food bags and stuff.
Mom said "I
think you are old enough to go on an errand by yourself now Anthony.
Now I want you to go straight there, buy the ice cream - vanilla
ice cream make sure - and come straight back. And make sure you
keep the money in your front pocket until you get to the counter."
Then Mom got
that squinted up worried face look.
she added, "On second thought maybe we should wait until your
sister gets home."
I can do it!", I said. I wasn't about to let this chance slip
by me. I wanted Mom to know that I could do it by myself and that
I was old enough.
you sure you can handle it?" Mom asked.
yes!" I really wanted her to believe me.
she said and just stood there thinking.
Let me write down the order for Mrs. Reed then --"
Mom," I said kind of loud, "I'll remember. One box of
vanilla ice cream, right? See, I can remember!" I was so happy
when she said "All right" that I was out the door, down
the hall and waiting for the elevator door to open before she could
chase me down.
Aren't you forgetting something?", she asked.
My brain froze.
I hate that question, because you know you've forgotten something
and if you could remember what it was, you wouldn't have forgotten
it in the first place. What did I forget? The first thing I thought
of was a goodnight kiss, because Mom always asked "Aren't you
forgetting something?" when I forgot to give her and Dad goodnight
kisses. Then I remembered what it was when Mom held out the money.
I ran back down the hall and was off almost before she could stuff
the bill deep into my front pants pocket.
When the elevator
closed, I reached down into my pocket and scrunched the money down
tight, so that it wouldn't fall out. I'd really be in heck if I
lost the money and I'd never get to go to the store without Melissa
tagging along and bossing me around like I was only five years old.
I especially hated when she made me hold her hand when we crossed
suggested that when I told you about him, I should tell exactly
what happened before I met him. That's why I am telling you about
going to the store. I told him that I would.
I crossed the
busy street and made it to Mrs. Reed's store as fast as I could,
checking all the time to see if the money was still there. I had
visions of some blue denim crocodile with two heads that was made
into a pair of jeans, his two mouths being the pockets of my jeans.
After a while I was scared to put my own hands in my pockets for
fear of the pocket crocodile.
I felt a lot
better when I heard the bells on Mrs. Reed's door jingle and rattle.
Melissa had told me on one of our trips to the store that the bells
were there so that Mrs. Reed would know if someone came in if she
was working in the back room. I knew that that was right but I told
Melissa I didn't believe her.
This time Mrs.
Reed was already at the counter when I walked in.
Mr. Anthony. And what can I do for you today?"
I knew that
Mrs. Reed was just sounding business-like to make me feel better.
I kind of liked it, so I played along too.
it, thank-you Mrs. Reed." I said in my deepest, throatiest
Sir," she said. That was the first time someone ever'd called
me Sir. I kinda liked it, too.
an air-end," I boasted proudly. I then turned and walked straight
to the freezer section of the store, where all the cold foods kept
don't forget" I told myself. I reached my arm into the cold.
A blast of cold air hit me and made me shiver. Even though it was
so cold in the freezer, the ice cream seemed soft. I decided I wouldn't
say anything about it to Mrs. Reed, because it probably wasn't her
fault anyway. When I got to the counter with the ice cream I must
have appeared to be in a hurry, for Mrs. Reed laughed and said "Are
we afraid the ice cream will melt, Anthony?"
of Mrs. Reed," I answered. "I have to beat the world record,
so that I will be able to come to the store by myself from now on.
My Mom let me come alone. This is the first time." That's all
I said to Mrs. Reed, because as soon as she had put the ice cream
in the plastic bag and had given me the change - it took forever
for her to count out the change - I turned and dashed to the door.
I stopped because
her voice sounded real angry. I turned around. She was angry. I
could tell from her face and the way she held her hands on her hips
like my Mom did.
will be no more running in my store or I will be forced to call
your Mother and report to her that you should be accompanied by
your sister from now on. Do I make myself perfectly clear?"
All the while Mrs. Reed was quickly approaching me.
Reed, I didn't mean it," I said. "Please don't tell her.
I promise I won't run in the store again. I promise." By this
time Mrs. Reed was almost on top of me. She
the collar on my jacket and said, "Well, okay Anthony. Now
go on and be careful. I want you to get home in one piece."
Mrs. Reed was
just faking, because she turned real nice all of a sudden. She smiled
and gave me a yellow jawbreaker that she had been hiding in her
hand. "Pleasure doing business with you, Sir," she added
as I turned to go.
you. Come again." I said in my deep adult voice. I don't know
if that made any sense. I only said it because it was written on
the back of the door.
It hurt, walking
so slowly to the door. I really wanted to set that world record
and prove to Mom and Melissa that I was an expert at going to the
When I made
it to the corner I made sure that I stopped and looked both ways,
because I had to do that - world record or no world record. Nothing
was coming so off I ran again. I made it across the road, into the
ditch bordering our park and halfway up the other side. I was going
full blast and that's why I fell. That's what Mr Blunder's theory
I fell straight
on my face. It hurt a lot, but all I could feel was the box of ice
cream squishing into my chest. The plastic bag must have exploded
because I remember feeling wet ice cream all over my neck and face.
It even found its way into one of my ears.
I rolled back
down into the ditch, rolling over and over what was left of the
ice cream I still held tightly to my chest. My knee and nose hurt
quite a bit and my chest was really sore from where the ice cream
had smashed into it. I felt like crying and I lifted up my head
to see if there was anything left of the ice cream. The first thing
I saw was not the squashed box of ice cream. It was Mr. Blunder.
Mr Blunder was
standing in front of me, laughing and pointing at me. He laughed
so hard that his arms waved about and he poked himself in the eye.
He was so funny laughing at me that I forgot about crying and laughed
back at him. That started him laughing and he laughed so hard that
he fell over and hit his head on the top of a dandelion. Oh yes,
I forgot to tell you that Mr. Blunder wasn't an ordinary man. He
was only three inches tall.
I forgot all
about the ice cream and the world record and Melissa and Mrs. Reed,
because all I could do was look and laugh at this strange looking
He had green
hair and a white moustache that looked like a milk moustache because
there weren't any whiskers in it. His jacket and jeans and shirt
were all ripped and stained and blotched. They reminded me of my
baby brother's baby suppers, when he was only half finished and
he mixed all of the yellow, green and brown mush together in his
bowl. Mr Blunder had a sock and no boot on one foot and a boot and
no sock on the other foot. His toes stuck out of the big hole in
his boot, too.
had a high voice that kept changing and squeaking like a parrot
in an old rusty wagon.
nay, by gosh, wasn't that a woops," he said. "What a woops
that was. That might be the best woops that ever was. Oops woops,
what a woops that was." This is what Mr Blunder said as he
used the stem of a dandelion to help himself back on his feet. I
thought it was funny the way he talked, but I couldn't really understand
what he meant.
"Um - What's
a woops?," I asked. I had to laugh at myself, because the question
sounded so funny.
that is that is, but let us do the first first and think about the
later later, shall we?," Mr Blunder said. "The first first.
My name -- and I must say it is a name I can't blame for it came
all the same from much shame -- is Mr. Blunder. Arnold Sebastien
Blunder to be more specific. And what does your little baby brother
call you. Let's see -- Antinny, isn't it?"
Anthony William Prentice," I corrected. Mr. Blunder by this
time had danced over to where I sat on the rim of the ditch and
caught the ice cream drooling off my shirt front in his mouth, just
like I sometimes catch raindrops. The only difference was that most
of the globs of ice cream missed Mr. Blunder's mouth.
oooo vanilla I say, nay, nay!," he said, his mouth full of
ice cream and ice cream covering his head and shoulders. Mr. Blunder
was clearing the ice cream from his eyes with the torn sleeves of
his very funny coat.
he woops it, eh?," Mr. Blunder said, looking at me as if he
expected me to answer his question. "I say, ye woops it, eh
Antinny? He fells it fer runnin' it much too fast across the roads,
I was trying to go kinda fast. But only because I don't want to
have my sister baby me whenever I get to go to the store. I can
do it myself! I can." I said, trying to get Mr. Blunder to
believe me and be on my side.
but ye fell here Antinny. Ye fell here nay, nay, fer trying to get
from the store to home faster than yer feet were gettin' you. You
made a woops and here ye are, yer shirt all covered in vanilla ice
cream." Just as Mr. Blunder said this, he slipped on the widening
river of gooey white ice cream that streamed down into the ditch.
He was carried away faster than I could try to save his balance.
he squealed as he slid down into the ditch and crashed into a discarded
pop can that lay at the bottom. I expected him to be in much pain,
but he again broke out into an uncontrollable laugh that started
me laughing once again.
wasn't that a woops," he said.
I said, helping him to his feet and setting him out of the ditch,
"What is a woops?"
he replied. "A woops. A boo boo, a no-no, an 'I shouldn't a
done dat', a crazy thing a woops is. You see, Antinny, a woops is
running across a road and falling face first into your ice cream
in a ditch. A woops is not brushing your teeth for a week. A woops
is forgetting to open your mouth before you put the food in. It's
just about anything really - anything you wish you hadn't done,
a woops is a mistake?," I asked.
that's about what a woops is!," he replied. "And you know,
we all make woops. That's why I am. That's why I be, Mr. Blunder
don't understand Mr. Blunder. What have you got to do with mistakes?"
Now we get to the point. The point is that I am Mr. Blunder. And
when you go asunder. You give your woops to Mr. Blunder. And I,
you see, take your woops for free. Do you think you want your woops
away Antinny?," Mr. Blunder asked looking up at me and raising
explain," he continued before I could reply," see this
smear and this tear and these rips here and there. Well these woops
came from boys who think rules are just toys and misses who throw
'em away like they were kisses."
"So I suppose
that's what I'm doing here, and what you are doing here?,"
it mate! I be here to buy your woops from thee for free. You just
might beat that record home yet! With a fresh shirt and a new box
of ice cream, too. And, you'll just make it home to beat that world
record -- but you'll do it walking."
You mean you can get me home with the ice cream and fix up what's
happened?" I asked Mr. Blunder.
can. You think I look like this for nothing? I'll be a little worse
for the wear, but you'll be giving me your woops. You see, I'll
just add it to the clump of woops I've received from here and there
and everywhere. I've already cleaned up your shirt. See -- the ice
cream has all dripped off on me."
He was right.
Somehow Mr. Blunder had erased the ice cream stain from my shirt
front and the pain in my chest was easing off. But there were still
lots of questions in my mind.
I asked. "How am I going to explain you when I get home on
time with everything okay? I mean, how am I going to explain that
things went wrong when everything will look fine? And when will
I see you again?"
Well Antinny, no one will ever believe you. They'll laugh or just
stand there thinking that you are nuts or something. Nobody believes
in Mr. Blunder - in fact, in time you won't believe in me either.
So you better tell them right when you get back, or as soon as you
can.", Mr. Blunder explained. "And I'm afraid that this
is the only time you'll be seeing Mr. Blunder.
forget you, Mr. Blunder!" I exclaimed.
you will Antinny; everyone else has. But don't worry. I'll be around
in a way. You see in the future you'll say "Woops", or
"Oops whenever you make a blunder and you will probably give
more thought to woops. You will always remember that woops are a
part of living. We learn from our clump of woops. See how much I've
I had to laugh
as Mr. Blunder did a pirouette, showing me all of the woops he had
taken from other boys and girls. There were tears and blotches and
rips and spills and scratches and even bandaids here and there all
over. I laughed even more when he fell spinning to the ground with
a "Woops" and told me stories of the best woops there
Anthony, you've got to accept your clump of woops. Try not to forget
them like you will forget me." And with a twirl and a fall
and a sort of a snap of his fingers Mr. Blunder was off with a "
I found myself
running across the road with a cold box of ice cream clamped to
my chest. I had gone back in time! Only a few minutes mind you,
but Mr. Blunder had actually erased my woops.
I realized that
I was running. "Woops," I exclaimed and stopped running
just before the spot where I had fallen the first time. As I passed
the dandelion I took a quick look for Mr. Blunder. He was nowhere
to be seen. I continued home, walking the rest of the way. I then
decided that I would never forget him. That's why I wrote this story.