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Tales from a not so tale.., p.8
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       Tales From a Not-So-Talented Pop Star, p.8

           Rachel Renée Russell
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  “I don’t know …,” Chloe said.

  “Yeah,” Zoey agreed, “I’m kind of sick of all the drama.”

  “Please!” I begged. “It would be just like our Ballet of the Zombies days! How FUN was that?!”

  “Yeah! That WAS pretty awesome!” Chloe conceded.

  “Even though we got a D,” Zoey added wistfully.

  “Well, before you say NO, at least come to our practice after school today,” I pleaded.

  “I guess that sounds fair,” Chloe said.

  “I can’t wait to hear you guys!” Zoey gushed.

  I could see MacKenzie staring at us from across the cafeteria and whispering to Jessica.

  But none of that mattered.

  I finally had my BFFs back!



  We had a BLAST at band practice yesterday!

  Chloe and Zoey were superimpressed. And since they already knew everyone, they fit right in.

  So now they’re official members and will be dancing and singing backup ☺!

  I can hardly believe my BFFs and I are actually going to perform onstage together.


  MacKenzie’s master plan to keep me out of the talent show had failed miserably. And now I was about to become her worst nightmare: stiff competition!

  So it was poetic justice when we agreed to call our band


  (courtesy of MacKenzie!).

  We even wrote an original song that was inspired by MacKenzie’s little insult.

  It all started when Violet crossed her arms and smugly announced, “Hey! I’m a dork and PROUD of it!”

  Then we started joking about which of us was the BIGGEST dork. The guys were like, “Can you please stop goofing around?”

  Then Zoey said, “Actually, we’re not goofing around. We’re doing … um … vocal warm-ups.”

  “Yeah, and vocal warm-ups are VERY important!” Chloe added as she playfully gave the guys the stink eye.

  That’s when Zoey started singing, “Tryin’ to fit in at my school, but kids keep telling me a dork ain’t cool.”

  And Chloe sang, “Whenever the teasing gets vicious …”

  “I remind myself I’m super DORKALICIOUS!” I chimed in.

  We burst into giggles and gave each other high fives!

  The guys just smirked and rolled their eyes at us. Then the three of them started whispering to one another.

  I knew they were up to something, and I figured they were going to try to outdo us.

  And I was right!

  THEY started clowning around TOO!

  The next thing we knew, they were dancing, singing, and frontin’ like hard-core rappers:

  “Dork, nerd, geek, freak

  Is all you see

  But just back off

  And let me be ME!”

  We all laughed so hard, our sides hurt.

  The WEIRD thing was that their song had a catchy melody and a really great beat. It was the kind of song that gets stuck in your head for the entire day.

  Even though it was supposed to be a joke, us girls actually LIKED it. Of course, the guys thought we were NUTZ!!!

  But they finally agreed to let us try to turn it into a real song. While Violet, Theodore, Brandon, and Marcus worked on the music, Chloe, Zoey, and I quickly grabbed a piece of paper and finished writing the words.

  By the end of our practice session, we had a very cool, original song about not fitting in at school, and being who you really are.

  I have to admit, it isn’t about superserious stuff like lost love or saving the world.

  But it’s OUR song, and it expresses how we feel. That’s the most important thing.

  Now that we finally have a name for our band, I was able to get started on our T-shirts.

  Blasting my fave tunes, I threw a one-person paint-’n’- glitter party that lasted until midnight.

  There is only one word to describe my designer creation: “DORKALICIOUS” ☺!


  With everything that’s been going on lately, I’ve been SO distracted. I’d probably forget my head if it wasn’t attached to my shoulders.

  Everyone in the entire school seems to know about DORKALICIOUS!

  Students have even started congregating outside the band room door to listen to us practice.

  It’s almost like we’re a real band with real fans.

  And NOT just a group of dorky friends who love music and have only been playing together for less than a week.

  The latest gossip is that MacKenzie’s dance group is no longer a slam dunk to win the talent show.

  Which I guess is good news for us.

  Especially for me, since winning the talent show scholarship is the ONLY way I can stay at this school.

  I thought about telling Chloe and Zoey about my dad and everything else, but I think it’ll just complicate matters.

  The last thing I need is them questioning my true motives AND our friendship AGAIN.

  But at the same time, keeping all these secrets feels really wrong.

  ARRGGH ☹!! I have to ask myself:


  Anyway, today is our last day of school before Thanksgiving break.

  The dress rehearsal for the talent show is on Friday, and then Saturday is the big day.

  PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE let me win so I can get that scholarship!!

  The good news is, even if I DON’T win, I probably WON’T have to worry about transferring to a new school.


  Because when my parents find out everything, they’re going to KILL ME!

  And it’s probably ILLEGAL to transfer a DEAD BODY to a new school….



  I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this holiday.

  Mainly because I get to eat enough food to feed the entire cast of Big Time Rush.

  Brianna and I helped Mom finish up the cooking while my dad drove to the airport to pick up my grandma.

  Having Grandma over for the weekend is a real treat because we haven’t seen her since we moved here last summer.

  She said there was NO WAY she was going to miss seeing me sing in the talent show, and she was coming even if she had to ride her Segway the entire three hundred miles.

  And she’s CRAZY enough to do it!

  Grandma says all her friends have Segways too. And for fun, they get together and ride around town like an elderly motorcycle gang swigging bottles of Pepto-Bismol and squirting denture cream on the door handles of parked cars.

  Grandma’s a little wacky! Actually … A LOT wacky!

  But Mom says that’s because she has an eccentric personality and a zest for life. Personally, I think all that’s just a polite way of saying she’s SENILE.

  But you GOTTA LOVE HER ☺!!

  Here she is with her three adorable poodles named Larry, Moe, and Curly.

  Anyway, our Thanksgiving dinner was WONDERFUL!

  After everyone had stuffed themselves, Dad lit the fireplace in our living room and we all sat around and played a game of charades.

  It was my brilliant idea to do famous singers, and we took turns drawing names out of a hat.

  When it was Grandma’s turn, we almost DIED laughing.

  OMG! She did a KILLER impression of Lady Gaga!

  After our game was over, Grandma gathered us around and hugged each one of us. Her eyes started to water as she announced that she had something really important to say.

  “I guess I should tell you the real reason I wanted to spend Thanksgiving here. I’m getting up in age, and one day soon I’m going to be leaving here and going on a VERY long trip. I know we’re going to miss each other, but I want everyone to know how much I love you all. So I’m giving you your Christmas present today. Mainly because I’m NOT going to be here with you physically for the upcoming holidays. But I WILL be here in spirit!”

bsp; That’s when Dad got really emotional, and tears started streaming down his face. “Mom, we love you, too. But please don’t talk about dying and leaving us!”

  OMG! It was SO sad, even I sniffed a couple of times.

  That’s when Grandma turned around in her chair and rolled her eyes at my dad like he was a COMPLETE IDIOT.

  “For Pete’s sake! When you were a baby, your dad must have dropped you on your head a few times too many. Who’s talking about DYING?! Gladys, Beatrice, and I are flying out to Las Vegas for two weeks, and we’re leaving next Wednesday. From there we’re doing a road trip to Hollywood to see a taping of Betty White’s show and The Price Is Right! We won’t be back until AFTER Christmas.”

  We all breathed a HUGE sigh of relief.

  Grandma continued, “Anyway, before I leave, I want to give you all an early Christmas present! It’s a priceless family heirloom that has been passed down through generations of Maxwells since 1894. Or was it 1984? One of those years. I forget which. Anyway, it’s my most prized possession.”

  She went to the closet and pulled out a large Christmas present topped with a shiny red bow.

  That’s when it occurred to me that if her heirloom was a superexpensive antique, maybe my parents could sell it on eBay, use MY portion to pay off my tuition, and STILL have thousands of dollars left over.

  Maybe Grandma coming to visit and giving us our present a month early was the answer to my prayer.


  When we opened the box, inside was a SUPERold iron bucket with a large handle on the side.

  My dad’s eyes lit up and then quickly filled with tears again.

  “MOM, you shouldn’t have!!” he gasped. “It’s Grandma Gertrude’s ice cream maker. She used to make me ice cream with it when I was a little boy!”

  I was like, JUST GREAT! So much for my idea of selling it to pay my tuition bill ☹!

  Our so-called priceless heirloom was basically a piece of JUNK!

  By next month we’d probably be using it as a makeshift recycling bin. Then during our annual spring cleaning Mom would pay the junk hauler to take it and a few other of Dad’s garage sale treasures (like his paddle-less canoe) to the city dump.

  Grandma handed my mom a piece of paper that had the Maxwells’ secret ice cream recipe written on it.

  “I’d LOVE some creamy, delicious, Maxwell family ice cream for dessert. Anyone else?” Grandma beamed proudly.

  Brianna got so excited, she started dancing around. “Yaaay! I scream! You scream! We all scream for ICE CREAM!”

  “What a great idea!!” Mom said as she herded us all into the kitchen. “I think making ice cream together would be a wonderful Family Sharing Time! Come on, everyone. FUN, FUN, FUN!”

  I was like, oh crud! Family Sharing Time? Again? Noooooo! ⋄!

  Making homemade ice cream sounds like a harmless, family-friendly activity. Right?

  But NOT with an antique, cast-iron, hand-cranked ice cream maker.

  Things got REALLY complicated when Dad showed Brianna what he used to do for fun when he was her age.

  When Mom wasn’t looking, he and Brianna tried to SNEAK a few licks of ice cream that had spilled over the sides.

  Who’d have thunk such an old-fashioned gadget like that could reach FUTURISTIC SUBZERO TEMPERATURES?!


  Can you find the TWO things very WRONG with this picture?! I’m just sayin’ …!!

  After this little fiasco, I now know for certain who Brianna inherited her LACK of intelligence from!

  I thought for sure their tongues were going to freeze solid, snap off, fall on the floor, and shatter into a million little pieces.

  Luckily, Dad and Brianna only ended up with a mild case of frostbite. And a severe, but temporary, lisp.

  I was surprised Mom’s ice cream was so DELISH!

  But every time that image of Dad and Brianna popped into my head, I’d start laughing so hard that ice cream would shoot right out of my nose and give me a really painful BRAIN FREEZE.

  Hey, I wonder if it’s true that if you take a hot shower right after a brain freeze, your brain will melt and you’ll turn into a CCP. Hmmmm …

  Anyway, we had a very HAPPY THANKSGIVING!



  Today was the talent show rehearsal at the WCD High School auditorium.

  It’s a fairly new facility that seats two thousand people. Just the thought of performing in front of such a large crowd gave me butterflies.

  The guys set up all our equipment while Chloe, Zoey, and I did vocal warm-ups.

  Violet hung out with us too and kept telling us how great we sounded.

  The high school student producer of the talent show was Sasha Ambrose, a supertalented senior who won the competition two years straight when she was in middle school.

  The butterflies in my stomach were quickly replaced by a cold, heavy lump of dread when I saw MacKenzie backstage, whispering to Sasha and pointing at ME ☹!

  All the talent gathered in the auditorium and waited excitedly for Sasha to assign dressing rooms and give us our order of performance.

  There was a total of eighteen acts, and she called them up one by one, EXCEPT Dorkalicious.

  After all the others were dismissed to go backstage, she finally motioned for us to have a seat in the front row.

  Of course we were all concerned about why we hadn’t been called up along with the others.

  Sasha pulled out our entry form, read it over, and slowly shook her head. “So, what’s the name of your group?”

  “Dorkalicious!” we all answered at once.

  “Well, unfortunately, I have some bad news. It’s been brought to my attention that the deadline for all entry forms was Friday, November twenty-second. And it specifically states here in writing that failure to submit a completed form will result in disqualification from the show.”

  I didn’t have the slightest idea why she was telling us all of this.

  I had personally completed our entry form right there in the school office and handed it in BEFORE the deadline.

  We all started to panic and talk at once.

  Sasha raised her hand, signaling us to quiet down. “Listen, people, I’m sorry, but the rules are the rules!”

  “I don’t understand,” I said. “I filled out the form and turned it in myself. How can we be disqualified?!” I was on the verge of tears.

  “Yeah, it WAS turned in on time,” she answered. “The problem is that it’s INCOMPLETE! It doesn’t say on here that the name of your group is Dorkalicious.”

  She handed the entry form to me, and everyone crowded around to read it for themselves.

  In the blank where it said “Name of act,” I had scrawled, “Actually, I’m not really sure yet.”

  My heart sank! Everyone shook their heads in shock and disbelief.

  I crumpled the entry form and jammed it into my pocket as tears flooded my eyes. “I am SO sorry, guys!” I muttered. “I guess she’s right. It’s all my fault. I don’t know what to say….”

  “I CAN’T believe it!” Violet exclaimed. “Nikki, how could you forget to do something so important?”

  I just shrugged my shoulders and stared at the floor.

  That’s when Brandon came to my defense.

  “Well, we have to remember that this whole band thing was kind of thrown together at the last minute. We hadn’t even picked a name yet.”

  Sasha started talking into a headset, and suddenly the house lights dimmed.

  The curtains opened to reveal the first act, which was a seventh-grade rap group dressed in fuzzy dog costumes. They were performing the song “Who Let the Dogs Out?”

  I hoped it was supposed to be a comedy act.

  “This is SO unfair!” Chloe groaned.

  “There has to be something we can do!” Zoey moaned.

  “That’s showbiz!” Violet said sarcastically.

  Sasha shot us a dirty loo
k and covered the mic on her headset. “In case you haven’t noticed, I’m trying to put on a show here. Take it out in the hall. Please!”

  We sighed and slowly shuffled out of the dark auditorium. Then the five of us threw a private pity party for Dorkalicious.

  Everyone looked SO disappointed. It was heartbreaking.

  I could NOT believe I had let them all down like that.

  I was the most horrible friend EVER!

  I didn’t know what to say, so I just apologized again.

  “Guys, I’m REALLY, REALLY sorry. I can’t believe we won’t be performing after all those long hours of practice. I wish there was a way to make this up to you….”

  Everyone gave me a small smile and shrugged it off.

  “Hey, so what! They only kicked us out of the talent show! It’s NOT the end of the world,” Chloe said, smiling goofily and doing her jazz hands.

  “And with the Dragon Lady running things, there’s no way we’re getting backstage to take down our equipment,” Theodore said. “I’m outta here! Pizza, anyone?”

  “Yeah, we can always get our stuff after the show tomorrow,” Marcus added. “Pizza sounds GREAT to me!”

  Everyone started to cheer up a bit and agreed to hang out at the pizza place across the street. Which was a good idea since our parents weren’t scheduled to pick us up from practice for another two hours.

  But I still felt horrible and my stomach was churning. Just the thought of pizza made me feel ill.

  “Sorry, guys, but I’m exhausted. I think I’m gonna head home.”

  “Come on, Nikki, don’t beat yourself up!” Brandon pleaded.

  “Yeah, we gave it our best shot!” Violet added.

  “But more than anything, we had fun hanging out and practicing together, right?!” Chloe said, giving me a hug.

  “I guess so. Listen, you guys go ahead. I’m gonna call it a night, ’kay? Eat a piece of pizza for me,” I said, smiling weakly.

  Finally they gave up trying to talk me into going with them.

  Even though everyone was disappointed by our disqualification, they were trying to be good sports about it.

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