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The 411: Youth

Robyn Reports: The Nutty Neighborhood Block Party

Robyn Reports: The Nutty Neighborhood Block Party

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July 31, 2013
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Story By Stacy Tornio
Illustrations By Roel Wielinga

Chapter 6: Time to Spit

The story so far: Lots of things have gone wrong at the block party. Robyn’s reporters have been covering each story. Now it’s time for the seed-spitting contest.

“Spitters, I need you to line up over here,” Mrs. Rogers says. She points to the top of the deck.

“Everyone else, please sit in the lawn chairs down here.”

I hurry to the rows of lawn chairs. I want a good view of the contest.

“Logan reserved you a seat over here,” Mrs. Rogers says to me.

I go to the front row. There’s a blue chair with a sign taped to the back. It says PRESS in large, black letters. I am impressed. Logan is always thinking ahead. Sarah’s older sister, Madison, sits next to me.

“How come you don’t compete?” I ask her. “Doesn’t spitting run in the family?”

“Nope,” she says. “I train Sarah, but I can’t even spit two feet. I guess I’m a better coach than I am a spitter.”

I look at the contestants on the deck. There are 10 spitters in the contest. They are lined up across the deck. Mrs. Rogers explains the rules.

There will be three rounds. In the first round, everyone spits at the same time. They get three chances. The five who spit the farthest move on to Round 2. In the next round, the spitters get three chances again. The two who spit the farthest go to Round 3. In the last round, the final two are in a spit-off. They take turns and spit three times each. Whoever spits the farthest is crowned the winner.

Mrs. Rogers looks at the crowd.

“Now, I can’t make any promises,” she says. “You might get spit on, especially if you’re in the front row.”

A couple of people move out of the front row. I do not want to get spit on, either. But the first row has the best view and, as a reporter, I need to see it all up close. I stay where I’m sitting. It’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make.

Mrs. Rogers begins to hand out watermelon seeds.

“Do not put these in your mouth until everyone has one,” she instructs the spitters.

I watch Sarah take hers. She looks like she’s concentrating. She takes this very seriously.
I survey her competition. No one looks as serious as Sarah.

“Does everyone have a seed?” Mrs. Rogers asks.

They all nod.

“OK, then,” she says. “You may place the seed inside your mouth. You will have one minute before the spit.”

Everyone pops a seed in their mouths. They start moving their tongues around in weird ways. I lean over to Madison.

“What are they doing?” I ask.

“Saliva,” she whispers.

This means nothing to me. “What do you mean?” I ask.

“They are trying to build up saliva,” she says. “It helps the seed go farther when they spit.”

Now I know why Mrs. Rogers said we might get spit on. Soon, everyone is lined up in a row at the edge of the deck. There are blue tarps covering the grass. I lean over to Madison again. She must know what I’m going to ask.

“The tarps are there so we can see the seeds,” she says. “Otherwise, they would get lost in the grass.”

They really think this thing through.

“Ready. Set. SPIT!” Mrs. Rogers shouts.

The 10 spitters lunge forward, holding on tight to the deck railing. Seeds fly in great arches through the air. It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen. I never realized you could concentrate so hard on spitting. And I never knew watermelon seeds could travel so far.

Sarah makes it to Round 2 easily. The five spitters left are Sarah, Henry, Jake, Carlos and Alexander. Mrs. Rogers calls a five-minute break before the next round. Sarah comes over to her sister.

“How am I doing?” she asks.

“You’re doing well,” she says. “I can tell Henry has been practicing, though. He might be hard to beat.”

Sarah looks around to find him.

“But don’t worry about him,” Madison says. “You’ve practiced, too.”

Sarah heads back to the deck for the second round.

Secretly, I hope she will win the contest. But I’m not sure it’s OK for me to have a favorite. My mom says you have to be fair when you’re reporting. I decide I will be fair, but Sarah is still my favorite spitter. I never thought I would have a favorite spitter.
It’s almost time for the second round when Henry walks up and faces the crowd.

“Attention, everyone,” he says. “I think everyone should know that Sarah is a cheater!”

A Hot Topics Hot Serials Story
Copyright © 2006 Stacy Tornio

Teacher guides available upon request. Email nie@wcn-online.com.

Watch for Chapter 7: “A Spitting Dispute” next week.

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