Teddy O™and The Dating Dilemma
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Satin Whickers, mouseling daughter of Mr. E. A. Whickers, and Webmaster of MarthaBear's Old Fashioned General Store and Online Emporium, was filing her tiny claws over the trash can beside her soup box desk behind the push broom in the linen closet. "Goodness sakes. All this typing takes its toll on my paws. They're practically worn to nubbins."
"What's that, dear?" asked her mother, Taffy Whickers, as she bustled down the hallway toward the back door to glean some corn kernels from the garden next door to Nancy Kamp's house where the business was located.
"Oh, hello Mother, " Satin called out through the closet's louvered door. "It's just that I have a date tonight with Gum Wrapper and I want to look my best."
Mother Whickers crawled beneath the door and joined her daughter. "Of course you do. Where are you two going and what will you wear?"
"Some of the gang are meeting us at Rodent's Roost for. Then, we're all going to a Tom and Jerry, Tom and Jerry's Greatest Chases, cartoon festival in town."
"How very brave you mouselings are. That Tom Cat is so frightening, I haven't the courage to watch him."
"We all know that Jerry and his little diapered friend, Tuffy, always outsmart Tom, so we just go for the thrill of the chase."
Pushing his way out from behind the air conditioning wall vent with the missing screw, Mr. Whickers overheard. "Thrill of the chase, is it?" With some effort, he sucked in his middle and squeezed himself under the same door his wife had. Pleased to see her there, he winked in her direction with adoration.
Mother Whickers enjoyed her husband's attentions, but redirected them. "Yes, darling. Satin was just telling me about her upcoming date with Gum Wrapper. You know, that nice mouse who lives in the exterior wall of the pantry three houses down from us?"
"You mean Dumb Wrapper, don't you?"
"Daddy," Satin protested. "That's mean. Gumford G. Wrapper comes from a fine nest."
"That's right," Mother Whickers pointed out to her husband. "And, too, we all know no mouse will ever be good enough for either of your daughters. You must remember, Mr. Whickers, that my father thought the same of you, and look how successful you've turned out to be."
Despite his concern, the patriarch was inclined to agree since it was the truth. "Yes, you're correct about that. Being the proprietor of Martha Bear's General Store certainly puts me in good standing with the entire critter community." He straightened his bow tie and smoothed his center-parted hair. He had a reputation to uphold.
Mother Whickers inquired, "Have you finished the inventory?"
"All but Nancy's jewelry," Mr. Whickers replied. "That's next on my list of things to do as soon as I make a final check of our own line of baby bibs, hooded sweatshirts, infant creepers and T shirts featuring Teddy O™" He added sarcastically, "Everyone's favorite character."
Teddy O™, the Senior Ursine Editor and chronic mischief-maker at greenlightWRITE.com / GraciousJaneMarie.com, could certainly be classified as a scalawag, Mother Whickers decided. Good hearted, yes, but still a scalawag.
"If you're not doing anything in particular, Mother, I could use your help," said Mr. Whickers as he winked at her once again. Any chance to flirt with his wife was a better thing in his book. Putting on his best business style in front of his daughter, he continued, "Come along Mother. I'd like to finish before supper. If you would be so kind as to hold the clipboard for me while I count ..."
"I'll be along in a moment. I just want to find out what Satin will wear on her date and then gather some fresh corn kernels."
Mention of sweet yellow corn stirred Mr. Whickers' ever present appetite. His path to the general store workroom suddenly deviated toward the breadbox in case a snack of crumbs might become available. But calling out over his shoulder, he cautioned, "You had better not wear one of those skimpy outfits where your furry tummy shows, Satin. I mean it."
"Oh, Daddy," Satin protested.
Her mother put a claw to her lips to quiet her daughter until the patriarch was out of earshot. "Don't start a ruckus unless one is needed. But don't think you're off the hook so easily, little miss. What will you wear?"
"I thought I'd borrow your new peach print blouse and Capri pants, if it's ok with you."
Personally thrilled she still wore size minutia-minus-3, the same as her two girls, Mother Whickers answered, "Certainly. What's mine is yours. I'll run along now to help your father. You know how he sometimes gets ahead of himself and looses count of things."
The work day passed and as Satin dressed for her outing, she came running out of the mouse family's powder room, located behind the hamper in Nancy's master powder room. "Mother! Nancy said I could wear the prototype of her choker if I wrapped it around my neck several times so I don't trip on it. You know, the one with the clear rock crystal points and the iridescent blue glass beads? Anyway, it's gone! And not just that choker, but all the chokers Nancy' has handcrafted are missing! Where could they be?"
Mother Whickers pulled her brows together and frowned. "Hmm. They can't have gone far, what with Nancy's cacti plants in front of every window to ward off burglars. They've got to be here somewhere because Nancy wasn't going to take them back to the bank until tomorrow. You go look around the living room, kitchen and laundry room. I'll check out the bedrooms."
Just then, Satin whispered, "Mother. Where are all the dogs?"
And Mother Whickers suddenly realized there was peace and quiet surrounding them, a thing that was truly rare in the extended Kamp household. "That's an excellent question. Let's just listen for a moment, shall we?"
Their large pink-interiored ears perked as the mice slowly walked this way and that, craning their necks as they sought answers. And then they heard a muffled, "Attention!" The recognizable voice was none other than that of Teddy O™.
Mother Whickers and Satin softly crept in the direction of the kitchen, the place from which the military order had come. But no one was in the kitchen.
"You dogs can do better than that? Come on, everybody. Help a bear out, would ya?" Teddy O™ pleaded.
The mice now knew the commands were not coming from the kitchen, but from the garage just beyond it. It took both long tailed rodents to push the garage door open, but they accomplished their task and slipped inside, hugging the garage wall to observe the goings-on unnoticed.
What they saw was quite peculiar. Teddy O™ faced away from the mice and before him were all of Nancy's dogs, General Dogsbody, Blondee and Haggis. Forming a perfect horizontal line in front of the small bear, the dogs had their backs to Teddy O™ and their tails all pointed straight up in the air.
"Alright then. Shall we try this one more time?" Dog heads nodded in agreement as Teddy O™ removed one of several of Nancy's handmade chokers hanging from his left arm and tossed it at Dogsbody's tail. He continued to the next dog in line, trying to encircle her tail with the round necklace. Missing two but snagging the third, Teddy O's voice sang out, praising himself, "Good job, Teddy. You're a genius, you are!"
At that point, all the canines turned and faced him, wearing greedy looks on their expectant doggie faces. As they advanced on the little bear, he pulled a string of weenies from his trouser pocket. Breaking them into bite size pieces, he tossed one chunk at a time at them, laughing as the dogs leapt high into the air to grab for their treats. "Are you sure you guys aren't part rabbit?" he teased. When the weenies were devoured, he again called, "Attention!"
Beside herself that Nancy's jewels should be treated so shamefully, the matronly mouse advanced, and stationed herself toe to toe in front of Teddy O™. She declared, "We've had just about enough of this, young man!"
"Huh?" Momentarily, Teddy O™ wondered where the small voice was coming from. He looked down to see Mother Whickers, all four inches of her, not counting her tail that is, standing erect, her paws parked on her hips, waiting for the bear to give her his full attention.
"Ah, alright. Alright," complied the rascally bear. "I was out of weenies anyway."
When the dogs heard this, they spun round to face him, glared and went back to the kitchen, leaving the bear to face the wrath of Mother Whickers.
"You have some explaining to do, mister."
"You're right about that. I can tell I'm hooking my shots to the left. I think I'd do better if I aim more ... Oh, you mean about using Nancy's necklaces?"
At this point, Mother Whickers was nearly out of patience. She pursed her lips so as not to emit anything unseemly. Then she simply nodded, knowing full well that Teddy O™ recognized her displeasure.
"Oh, I know I should have asked Nancy if I could use her jewelry for practice, but I figured she'd just say no."
"And you'd be right about that, I'm sure," Mother Whickers agreed.
"What in the world kind of practice are you taking about?" asked Satin.
"Hey there, Satin. I'm talking about ring toss practice. What else?"
"Ring toss?" Mother and daughter asked in unison.
"Sure. Haven't you heard my local chapter of The Thundering Teddies, you know, Teddies that try to do the right thing, but don't always succeed, anyway, we're having a ring toss contest to raise money for Helen Keller Worldwide, our company's chosen charity."
Mother Whickers shook her head and looked everywhere except at the bear, trying to remain stern. Addressing Teddy O™, the older mouse said, "Well, I must admit it's difficult to remain miffed with a teddy whose heart is in the right place. Just next time, please ask permission, won't you? It's not right to use other peoples things without them knowing it."
"Oh, I planned on telling Nancy, just after I was done, is all. She'll be so pleased with me that I'm trying to make money for charity, she won't care that she may have to remake or restring or rewire, whatever it is she does, some new necklaces. Nobody wants used merchandise, now do they?"
Teddy O™ departed with a swagger leaving the two mice standing in the cavern of the empty garage. "I guess he's probably right about that," Satin agreed. She picked up the choker she wanted to wear on her date and blew off the dog hairs. "Nobody much likes used merchandise."
"Aargh! Uurgh!" Mother and daughter mouse recognized Nancy's squeals of frustration coming from the living room.
"I guess Teddy O™ told her," Mother Whickers determined. "We'd best be going back inside to help our dear bear-beleaguered friend, Nancy. I'm just glad we mice are flexible, Satin."
The thoughtful rodent envisioned her husband's disappointment at his unfulfilled expectations of the corn, she'd promised earlier. "Well, most of us are anyway," she said, half to herself. Perhaps he and she could go for a late night forage for the corn. Yes, he'd like that. She bit her lips and pinched her checks to look her most fetching and, thereby, her most convincing because her husband was a romantic mouse - and that was, after all, the best of better things.
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