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Tales from a not so tale.., p.7
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       Tales From a Not-So-Talented Pop Star, p.7

           Rachel Renée Russell
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  We barely had eight days to select a song and learn it well enough NOT to make complete FOOLS of ourselves.

  Otherwise known as


  Theodore plays cello in the school orchestra, and his best friend, Marcus, plays violin. They are both “first chair,” which means they are the best at their instruments.

  I was really impressed how they had gone from playing classical music to Top 40 tunes. Although it probably wasn’t that hard, considering the fact that the two of them have a combined IQ higher than the rest of the entire school.

  These guys make ME (a self-proclaimed dork) seem like a social butterfly.

  Their idea of a stimulating conversation is debating whether the Star Wars lightsaber or the Star Trek phaser is the more technologically advanced weapon.

  Violet is pretty much a loner who spends hours and hours practicing classical piano pieces. I’ve heard she has played in competitions all over the nation and won.

  But playing pop music on the keyboard is a whole different thing, and I was a little worried she’d make Bieber sound like Bach and Miley sound like Mozart.

  Our biggest problem, however, was that we didn’t have a drummer, and that really worried me. How could we have a good chance at winning without one?!

  By the time I got to the band room, everyone was already there and warming up.

  I was totally surprised to see the back of a guy stooped over, adjusting a drum set. Did we actually have a drummer??!!

  Then he turned around and smiled and waved at me, and I practically FREAKED!

  Theodore had recruited BRANDON?!

  I didn’t even know Brandon played the drums!

  I just stood there like an idiot staring at him and then the other band members, and then at him and then the other band members, and then at him and then the other band members, and then at him again.

  This went on for what seemed like FOREVER!

  And then Brandon kind of shrugged and said, “Um, Nikki, are you okay?! You kinda look like you’re having a seizure or something.”

  I was like, “Who, ME? Nothing’s wrong! I mean, why would you think something’s WRONG? I’m totally fine!”

  But mostly I was in SHOCK because I could NOT believe that I FINALLY had my very own band and my CRUSH, Brandon, was actually there playing drums.

  I was like, “SQUEEEEE!!” ☺!!

  Then we started talking about music, and I learned a lot of new stuff.

  Like, musicians can play “by ear” or from sheet music.

  The really supertalented ones can just listen to a song and figure out how to play it in a few minutes.

  Otherwise, you can use sheet music and read the notes for the songs, which is a lot easier to do.

  Well, guess what? My band is SO talented, they didn’t even need sheet music!

  I suggested the old-school song “Don’t Stop Believin’,” because it’s one of my dad’s favorites. I thought it was funny how everyone was into it again because it was on a TV show.

  Each of them quickly figured out their own part, and within ten minutes they were playing it together.

  It was absolutely AMAZING to see and hear!!

  Then Theodore told me they were finally ready for me to sing along and handed me a microphone.

  I was shaking so badly, I thought I was going to drop it.

  Of course I muttered, “Testing, one, two, testing, one, two! Um, is this thing on?” like a total idiot.

  It was on, and my voice was really loud and clear.

  Just like the butterflies in my stomach.

  After they played the intro to the song, I closed my eyes, took a deep breath, and started singing along.

  We actually sounded really, really good. Well, really good for a band that had only been together for, like, thirty minutes.

  When we finally finished the song, Theodore, Marcus, Brandon, and Violet raved about how well I sang, especially without having practiced or anything.

  However, my little secret is that I’ve sung and danced to that song a million times.

  In front of my mirror, using my hairbrush as a microphone.

  The most surprising thing to me was that Brandon is SUCH an awesome drummer!

  But he made me supernervous because he was, like, STARING at me the entire time.

  I blushed and smiled at him. And then he blushed and smiled at me.

  And when he thought I wasn’t looking, he stared at me AGAIN!

  So I blushed and smiled AGAIN! And he blushed and smiled too!

  All of this staring, blushing, and smiling went on, like, FOREVER!!

  Now I’m starting to wonder if Brandon actually likes me as MORE than just a friend!!

  And if he DOES, I’ll seriously just DROP DEAD from severe shock and extreme happiness!

  I even wrote a poem about him.

  Before I knew it, the hour had passed and it was time to leave for our first-hour class.

  Since the talent show is next Saturday, we decided to practice one hour before school and one hour after school every day for the entire week.

  Which means I’ll be spending a lot of time with Brandon ☺!! SQUEEEEEE!!

  Being in this talent show is one of the most exciting things I’ve ever done in my entire life.

  I was really happy and in a supergood mood the rest of the day.

  Even when I saw MacKenzie and Jessica whispering and giving me the evil eye during lunch.

  I was like, WHATEVER!

  My new band is beyond FABULOUS!!

  And now I have a really good shot at winning that scholarship.



  I planned to spend the entire evening brainstorming ideas for my band.

  The show is less than one week away, and we still need to come up with a name, select a song, and figure out what we’re going to wear.

  Unfortunately, my parents announced that it was Family Movie Night and insisted that I come down and watch a rented movie with them.

  My inner child screamed, “NOOOOOOOOO!!”

  OMG! Talk about pure TORTURE!!

  It’s ALWAYS a SUPERold movie that’s already been rerun a million times on TV like Raiders of the Lost Ark, Star Wars, or The Lord of the Rings.

  My dad says he loves renting them to see all the scenes that were cut out of the original movie release.

  What he FAILS to realize is that the directors cut those scenes for one of two reasons.

  Reason number one: They were BAD. And reason number two: They were BORING.

  I was like, “Dad, are you kidding? Making us watch these movies for the seventh time is AWFUL enough. But we also have to see two additional hours of really BAD and BORING scenes. Personally, I’d rather get a big bowl of popcorn and watch the kitchen faucet drip.”

  But I just said that inside my head, so no one else heard it but me.

  And my mom’s favorites are oldies like Honey, I Shrunk the Kids; Freaky Friday; Legally Blonde; and 13 Going on 30.

  Which I HATE slightly less than Brianna’s favorites: Princess Sugar Plum Saves Baby Unicorn Island! parts 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5. Princess Sugar Plum’s voice sounds like a chipmunk on helium….

  “Please don’t worry, all you cute, liddle, adorable baby unicorns. I, Princess Sugar Plum, am here to save you all! AGAIN! For the fifth time! All because I’m CUTE, LIDDLE, and ADORABLE, just like all of YOOOU!!”

  Family Movie Night movies are SO LAME, I’d love to borrow Princess Sugar Plum’s pink candy-cane magic wand and transport myself to the moon.







  That’s why!!

  I’m just saying …!!



  Tonight my parents went out to dinner and asked me to babysit Brianna.

  At first I was like, NO WAY ☹! Bu
t I finally agreed to do it after they offered to pay me.

  I need the money to make some supercool T-shirts for all my bandmates.

  We’re going to look AWESOME wearing matching T-shirts with jeans when we perform in the talent show.

  Am I NOT brilliant ☺?!

  Anyway, the worst thing about babysitting Brianna is that she always takes TOTAL advantage of the situation.

  And since I’m getting paid, she acts like I’m her little PLAYMATE-FOR-HIRE or something.

  Which means for the past two hours I’ve valiantly suffered through a very off-key live performance of Brianna and Miss Penelope singing the hit “Single Ladies”! …

  “Nikki, I’m gonna be Miss Penelope’s backup singer when she goes on her world tour!”

  AND I’ve attended a Princess Sugar Plum tea party dressed like someone’s great-grandmother, with a doll and a motley crew of stuffed animals….

  You would think that after I suffered through these playtime indignities, Brianna would have appreciated it and NOT given me such a hard time at dinner.

  But NOOOO!!

  Mom left me specific instructions that Brianna could NOT leave the dinner table until she’d eaten ALL her broccoli.

  So Brianna just sat there pouting and slapping her broccoli around on her plate with her fork like she was playing miniature golf or something.

  I told Brianna she was going to have to either eat that stuff or sit there another forty-five minutes until her bedtime. Of course she got an attitude about the whole thing.

  I left the table to put my dishes in the dishwasher.

  And when I got back, I was shocked to see that Brianna’s plate was completely clean and she had this angelic smile on her face that went from ear to ear.

  You could practically see her halo.

  I was more than a little suspicious.

  “Brianna, are you SURE you ate all your broccoli?!”

  She nodded and just kept smiling like an insane clown. But I was NOT about to be outsmarted by a six-year-old.

  That’s when I demanded that she open her mouth. Well, not HER mouth, exactly …Miss Penelope’s mouth.

  But surprisingly, Brianna had not stashed her broccoli in there.

  So I gave her a big hug and told her how proud Mom was going to be of her.

  She didn’t say a word and just continued to smile like she was in a Miss America contest.

  Unfortunately, NOW I know why!

  I had tucked Brianna into bed for the night and was feeding the fish in Dad’s aquarium when I spotted these strange chunks of green gunk floating around in the water.

  At first I thought it was some kind of deadly, flesh-eating algae or something.

  But upon closer examination it looked exactly like … Wait for it…. Wait for it….


  I almost lost my meat loaf right there on the living room carpet.

  I screamed at the top of my lungs:

  “BRIANNA! You SPIT broccoli in the fish tank?!! Get down here and clean up this mess! RIGHT THIS MINUTE!!”

  I was so MAD, I could have STRANGLED her!

  I knew she was just pretending to be asleep.

  Which meant I was the one STUCK cleaning HER slimy broccoli gunk out of the aquarium.

  It was the GROSSEST thing EVER!

  Babysitting that evil little munchkin is such a humongous PAIN!

  As a matter of fact, the next time my parents ask me to watch her so they can go out to dinner, I’ll pay THEM $30 to STAY HOME and ORDER a [email protected]#$% PIZZA!!

  I’m just sayin’!

  At least I have the money for our T-shirts.

  All we need to do now is come up with a really cool name for the band and select our song.



  Today my

  WORST NIGHTMARE came true ☹!

  After an insanely boring morning at school, it was finally time for lunch.

  I grabbed my lunch tray and was making my way over to table 9 when I noticed the strangest thing.

  The ENTIRE cafeteria seemed to be staring at me and whispering and snickering.

  At first I thought maybe toilet paper got stuck to my shoe from my trip to the bathroom.

  Or maybe a humongous booger was dangling from my nose.

  But then I spotted MacKenzie across the room, glaring at me all evil-like with this huge smirk on her face.

  And right next to her were a bunch of CCPs crowded around her superexpensive hot pink designer notebook computer laughing their … um … behinds off.

  That’s when I got this really, really BAD feeling.

  My thoughts were racing as I collapsed in my seat at the lunch table.

  Could she have …?!

  Would she have …?!

  Did she DARE …?!

  Well, I finally got the answers to my burning questions when Matt looked at me and yelled …

  Of course the whole cafeteria cracked up laughing.

  My stomach was churning, and I had totally lost my appetite.

  I kept thinking, OH. NO. SHE. DIDN’T!!

  But MacKenzie HAD!!

  I was SO humiliated! I blinked back my tears and tried to swallow the huge lump in my throat.

  I wanted to run away, but at that moment I was too upset to move.

  So I just stared at my tuna noodle casserole.

  I was about to dump my tray and leave when MacKenzie sashayed over to my table.

  “I heard you and some other DORKS from SuperFreaks started a new band. What are you calling yourselves, DORKALICIOUS?!”

  “MacKenzie, why did you tell everyone about the Queasy Cheesy video?! I kept my part of the deal,” I said, still fighting back tears.

  “So what if you did! Now that Chloe and Zoey are on my team, I just have to make sure I don’t have any major competition. And since I heard your little band was half decent, I figured now was the perfect time to let the world know what a talentless loser you are. SORRY about that!”

  WHY in the world had I EVER trusted that girl?!

  “Hey, Maxwell, I wanna see you do your Queasy Cheesy dance!” Matt continued to taunt me from the jock table.

  “Matt, I wanna see YOU do some personal hygiene,” someone retorted. I whipped my head around and was stunned to see Chloe and Zoey standing on the other side of the table. When had they gotten there?

  Chloe slammed Matt with yet another insult as she slid into the seat to my left. “Dude, even your flies are starting to drop dead from the odor!”

  “Yeah! You’re SO nasty I wouldn’t slap your face with somebody else’s hand,” Zoey huffed as she took the seat to my right.

  I almost fell over from shock. It seemed like we hadn’t sat together at lunch for ages.

  “Are you okay?” Chloe asked, and gave my shoulder a squeeze. “We heard about that YouTube thing.”

  “We actually thought you and your sister were adorable!” Zoey said, smiling.

  I didn’t believe that “adorable” part for one minute.

  I looked like a total idiot in that video. And it was VERY obvious that Chloe and Zoey were just lying through their teeth to try to make me feel better.

  Which was one of the NICEST things they have ever done for me!

  They are the sweetest BFFs EVER! I don’t deserve friends like them.

  I was just about to apologize to Chloe and Zoey and try to explain everything when MacKenzie started shrieking like a lunatic.

  “Chloe! Zoey! WHAT are you two doing? I specifically instructed ALL my dancers to sit together at table four!!”

  “Um, you guys don’t have to sit with me. We can talk later, okay?” I muttered.

  MacKenzie rolled her eyes at me. “Besides, Nikki is about as talented as a toilet plunger! OMG! That video was painful to watch.”

  “Well, at least I’m not a shallow, fashion-obsessed diva like you. If your brains were dynamite, you wouldn’t have enough to blow your nose!” I shot back.

OH, PUH-LEEZE! You’re just jealous because you’re not in MY dance group. Everyone knows we’re going to win!” MacKenzie spat. “Chloe! Zoey! It’s either Nikki or ME! You better decide right now.”

  Slowly they both stood up. I felt HORRIBLE that they were choosing MacKenzie. But I really didn’t blame them.

  I was the biggest DORK in the school, and she was the biggest DIVA.

  “Well, I’m glad to see you girls have finally come to your senses. At least you know a phony friend when you see one,” MacKenzie said smugly.

  “It wasn’t a hard choice at all,” Chloe said.

  “I agree. There’s so much phony baloney that if I had bread and mustard, I could make a sandwich!” Zoey exclaimed.

  I just stared at my two friends. I felt like I had been kicked in the stomach.

  Then Zoey placed her hands on her hips and took a step toward MacKenzie.

  “We heard every word you said to Nikki. And you know what? You REALLY need to get over yourself! It’s hard to breathe up in here with your stank attitude!”

  I could NOT believe Zoey had just said that!

  Chloe folded her arms and nodded.

  “Yeah, I’ve had quite enough, chica. You can’t treat our friend like that and get away with it. Oh, and one other thing…. I QUIT!!”

  “ME TOO!” Zoey said.

  “What?! You CAN’T quit!” MacKenzie screeched.

  “WE JUST DID!” Zoey said.

  “Yeah, what part of ‘I quit’ do you NOT understand?!” Choe asked.

  MacKenzie trembled with rage, and the water from the bottle in her clenched fist sprayed everywhere!

  “FINE! I don’t need you, anyway! Just stay out of my way, or you’ll be sorry!” MacKenzie snarled. Then she stomped back to the CCP table.

  I was SO happy my BFFs had chosen me over MacKenzie. And they had stood up for me too!

  We did a group hug right there at table 9.

  “Oh, well. I guess we won’t be in the talent show after all,” Zoey said.

  “Yep! That’s showbiz!” Chloe quipped, and gave us jazz hands.

  “Hey, I have an idea!” I said. “Why don’t you guys join our band? We’re practicing after school today. We could use two more singers!”

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