Eating Fool's Day Game Night
Professor Edgar Eyrie flew through the Neopian skies, his majestic wing span stretched wide, the smallest shift in body weight creating a graceful curve, a spectacular view to onlookers below. Close behind, the aeronautically challenged Pete Pteri struggled to keep up with his companion, wings flapping frantically in an irregular rhythm, the left wing a hairbreadth’s timing behind the right.
Pete would never complain, of course, being honored to share the friendship of his esteemed companion. Nonetheless, he was relieved when the Eyrie’s course headed downward, the two landing almost simultaneously in a grassy patch on Roo Island. The Professor threw his head back, fluttered his wings and exclaimed how he enjoyed a refreshing afternoon’s flight. In contrast, the Pteri huffed and puffed, his little round chest pounding as if it might explode.
It was an idyllic afternoon on Roo Island, the waves gently lapping on the shore, the rainbow bridge to Neopia Central creating a kaleidoscope backdrop, and the sweet melody of the Merry-go-round calliope in the distance, perfect for enjoying a snack of Hubrid’s Hot Dogs. Soon refreshed, Pete was able to turn his attention back to their earlier conversation.
“PULL-EZE, PULL-EZE, please, please, please.” The Pteri’s whining had a rhythm, long and loud, long and loud, short, short, short. The Professor, almost always even-tempered, was getting irate.
“No begging in Neopia. It’s against the rules. And no whining. We should add that rule, no whining.” He got out his notepad and jotted a note to himself. No Whining Rule.
“We’ll talk about it later.” The Professor gave Pete the look, a slight raise of one eyebrow and a tightening of the muscles around the beak. Pete knew the discussion was over.
Deep breaths, deep breaths, the Pteri reminded himself. The Professor was most likely to agree if he could just keep himself from becoming annoying. He would check into the Lodge. A good Shenkuu Massage would calm him down and most certainly be beneficial after such a strenuous flight.
“Next week, same time, same place?” Pete asked nervously. The Professor nodded and smiled, then flew off in a daring display of somersaults and barrel flips, creating oohs and ahs from below.
# # #
Pete was prepared the next week. He had worked out to exhaustion, stretches and crunches, pull ups and flapping jacks. He changed his palate from Pizzaroo to the Health Food Store and found the menu surprisingly tasty although not nearly as filling.
Always in the lead on their weekly flights, the Professor was unaware of quite how much the Pteri had struggled in the past; nonetheless he intuitively noticed a difference and took an extra lap around the island before starting his descent.
They landed, each eager to share, Pete ready to ask for a game night in his most grown up voice, and the Professor ready to tell Pete he had planned one. They both spoke at once, laughed, harmonized in a chorus of you firsts, laughed again, then lapsed into an awkward silence, finally broken by the Professor with his deep authoritative professor voice.
“I’ve been thinking about your request for a game night, Pete. It’s an excellent idea. I thought we’d hold it the first Tuesday of each month. That would make the first one the first of Eating. Some Neopians have the peculiar habit of calling it Eating Fool’s Day.” The Professor paused briefly. “Let’s have it in my library. Perhaps you and your friends Hallie, Lem and Spike would like to attend; also I’ll invite a friend of mine, a Mynci named Junior. That makes six of us. I’ll handle the schedule of games and puzzles for our first game night.”
Pete was excited. “I can hardly wait, Professor,” he said, getting the words out quickly before all he could utter was a squeak. “Can I help? Can I bring anything?”
The Professor shook his head and patted Pete’s.
“I’ll arrange everything,” yelled the Professor as he flew off into the distance, his voice trailing off.
# # #
Pete told Hallie the Xweetok, Lem the Ixi, and Spike the Uni the good news later that day. They sat in Pete’s room, eating pizza slices and giggling, the way they had done when they were classmates at the Lenny Conundrum School of Puzzles, class of Year 07 (pronounced aught seven). Pete had the unimpressive accomplishment of finishing at the bottom of the class, but there were only eight enrollees so he didn’t really consider that an embarrassment.
Their excitement grew as the day got closer. They checked with each other to make sure they had each gotten their Month of Running freebies. Hallie and Lem spoke of which customisables they’d wear while Pete and Spike made faces at them.
The first of Eating, Eating Fool’s Day, Pete and his friends could hardly believe it was here. They all paraded around Neopia in their Novelty Glasses and Wearable Piles of Dung, and played silly annoying tricks on each other until it was time to head over to the Professor’s.
When Pete and his friends arrived, Junior the Mynci ushered them into the library. It was an attractive room, done all in bone with Osiris pottery accents. The bone table in the middle was highly lacquered until it shone with a glossy patina, smooth to the touch. Six bone chairs surrounded it, one at each end and two on each side. The walls were covered with bone bookshelves filled with books. All the vertical spaces were taken and several shelves had additional books lying horizontally across the tops.
The Professor was already seated at the far end of the table. His chair was pulled up close to the table and his face seemed unusually expressionless. Junior, the Mynci, went directly to the seat on the Professor’s right. Pete chose the seat to the Professor’s left. Hallie sat next to Pete. Spike and Lem took the remaining seats.
“We’ll start off with a puzzle,” the Professor began. “I’ve taken the liberty of filling Junior in on this one. Junior, start us off and we’ll proceed clockwise.”
“My number is 222,” said the Mynci.
“My number is 1010,” went Professor Edgar Eyrie. He turned to Pete. “What’s your number, Pete Pteri?”
The Professor’s voice sounded peculiar. Pete turned to his mentor. “Are you okay?” he asked.
“Ahem, ahem,” the Professor cleared his throat, “Just a little mortog in my throat, go ahead.”
Pete was confused. How could the numbers be so different? He couldn’t see a pattern.
“Take a guess,” the others urged.
Pete decided to try 1829. It was the solution to Lenny Conundrum number 250. Surely that was a good number. Maybe he’d be lucky.
“My number is 1829,” Pete tried, his voice cracking with uncertainty.
“No Pete, that’s not your number,” said the Professor and the Mynci. “Hallie?”
Hallie was equally confused. “Can I use paper and pencil?” she asked. The others nodded. She turned the cover of her notebook and opened to a fresh page, laying it in between Pete and herself. Neatly she wrote:
JUNIOR MYNCI 222
EDGAR EYRIE 1010
Hallie couldn’t see a pattern either. She shrugged her shoulders indicating she didn’t know. The Professor insisted she take a guess. “Oh, okay,” she hauled out her ‘lucky’ number. “29, my number is 29.”
“That’s wrong,” said the Mynci, “but you’re close, very close.” He winked.
That was a big clue for Hallie. She thought about why 29 was her lucky number and she had an idea for the next round.
It was Spike the Uni’s turn next. He had already figured it out and confidently stated, “My number is 32.”
“That’s correct, Spike,” said the Professor, nodding in approval.
It was Lem’s turn next. She thought about the ease with which Spike had answered. It must be a number he’s very familiar with. Rather than looking for a pattern, she thought about the numbers she, herself, had memorized. Suddenly she had an idea, she turned to Junior and asked, “Is it significant that you say two, twenty-two instead of two hundred twenty-two?”
The Mynci nodded. “Possibly.”
“Then my number must be 711.” She pronounced it seven eleven.
The Professor, the Mynci and Spike all nodded in approval.
“You are all sharper than an Altadorian Sword,” said the Professor.
The Mynci repeated, “My number is 222.”
The Professor repeated, “My number is 1010.”
It was Pete’s turn again.
Pete was confused. How could the numbers be so different? he wondered. He couldn’t see a pattern. He picked up the pencil and piece of paper Hallie had started and added:
SPIKE UNI 32
LEM IXI 711
This time Pete tried 250 unsuccessfully. His face fell as they all replied, “No, Pete, that’s not your number.”
“My number is 1129,” guessed Hallie. “You’re right! You’re right!” the others shouted. Hallie smiled.
Pete was feeling even more uneasy, Spike and Lem had gotten it in one guess, the cerebral Hallie had guessed in two tries, and he still had no idea. This time as they went around the table repeating their numbers, Pete became edgy. He leaned back in his chair until it was resting on the back two legs. This gave him a clear view under the table. He noticed the Professor’s legs looked unusually long and skinny. The Professor’s legs aren’t that long and skinny, Pete thought to himself. That was as confusing to him as the puzzle at hand.
It was soon his turn again. “C’mon, Petey, take a guess,” the others were coaxing him.
“I give up. I give up.” Sadness and frustration could be heard in his voice.
“That’s okay, Pete,” the Professor interrupted. “You can think about it for a while. Meanwhile we’ll go on to the next puzzle, Nellie Nimmo. Some of you may have heard this one before. We’ll see. I’ll start.”
“Nellie Nimmo likes Cybunnies but doesn’t like Krawks.” He turned to his left. “Pete, tell us something Nellie Nimmo likes and dislikes.”
Again Pete had no idea. Not wanting to hold up the game, Pete tried, “Nellie Nimmo likes games but doesn’t like puzzles.”
“Just the opposite,” corrected the Professor, “Nellie Nimmo likes puzzles but doesn’t like games.” He turned to Hallie. “Hallie, you try.”
Hallie had caught on already. “Nellie Nimmo likes Puppyblews but doesn’t like Spyders.” The professor nodded.
They continued around the table, some right, some wrong and some half right and half wrong. When the Professor turned towards Lem and Junior on the other side of the table, Pete noticed a tuft of yellow hair sticking up at the back of the Professor’s head, like a giant cowlick.
Everyone was catching on.
“Nellie Nimmo likes villains but doesn’t like faeries.”
“Nellie Nimmo likes galleries but doesn’t like shops.”
“Nellie Nimmo likes Sneezles but doesn’t like Kikoughela.”
Poor Pete. He stumbled every time it came around to him. Finally they decided to move on.
“I thought we’d play a game of Cheat next,” announced the Professor. Some games of Cheat are long and some are longer. This was one of the longer ones. Finally Pete was down to three cards, 5, 5, 8. He breathed a sigh of relief as the Professor played two 4s in front of him. Pete played his two 5s. It went around the table a 6, two 7s, an 8 and a 9. No one challenged. Play an 8 or a 9, Pete wished as the Professor fingered his full sized hand. Play an 8 or a 9.
“Three 10s,” the Professor announced. Pete looked at his card, an 8. If he played his last card, he would certainly be challenged, so reluctantly he challenged the Professor. The top three cards were turned over, one by one, 10, 10, 10. Pete had to pick up the pile and was now sitting with thirteen cards.
The game continued for another half hour with the Professor finally winning.
The evening was turning into a disaster. Pete reflected on how he had begged the Professor to hold a game night. Now he questioned what he had wished for. He was the only one who couldn’t figure out the first two puzzles and was left with the most cards in his hand at the end of Cheat.
Their evening ended with a snack. The Professor treated everyone to a chocolate shaped in his or her species. Even a White Chocolate Pteri couldn’t cheer up Pete.
“This has been a fun evening,” announced the Professor. Spike started to stand up. The Professor motioned for him to sit down. “Before you go, I’ve played a little Eating Fool’s Day prank on all of you. Does anyone know what it is?” Everyone looked blank.
Suddenly Pete’s observations added up, the unusually expressionless face of the Professor, the changed voice, the long skinny legs he had noticed under the table and the yellow tuft of hair sticking out at the top of the Professor’s head. Pete started to tremble at the depth of his realization.
“I’ve solved it. Call the Neopian Times.” He stood up, looked directly at the Professor, then bowed to him with a flourish. “You’re not the Professor. You’re the wonderful... you’re the almighty... you’re... you’re... you’re the magnificent Lenny Conundrum!”
With that the Professor pushed his chair back away from the table. He stood up, uncharacteristically tall, and slowly removed the Plushie Eyrie Mask from his face. Yellow feathers started peeking out. There was a communal gasp as it was revealed that the great Lenny Conundrum had been impersonating the Professor all evening.
Everyone gathered around the Lenny, gushing their admiration and seeking autographs, but eventually turned to Pete, asking, “How did you figure that out?” Pete happily shrugged and explained.
What had started out as a disaster had turned into a moment of glory. Next year at Eating Fool’s Day, no one would remember what games or puzzles they played or who won but they would all remember the year Lenny Conundrum impersonated Professor Edgar Eyrie and Pete Pteri was the one who figured it out!
# # #
Pete’s number is 118 (Pteri Day is November 8).
Nellie Nimmo likes words that have consecutive double letters.