Keeping Up With the Joneses

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"Keeping up with the Joneses",
"Be Cool, For Your Sake!"
Background information
Participants Rocket Slug, TurtleShroom, Agent Meltie, Martha Meltissimo, Phineas34720
Date 2011
Location UNKNOWN

Chapter One: TS' Declaration[edit]

The old bell rang in the bell tower of the wooden Mattress Village Assembly Hall. (It looks like this: [1]) The clanging pierced the usual silence of the quiet land, clanging loudly and echoing all over.

It wasn't the normal meeting. The Censors had been called forth, because today, TurtleShroom, their presiding Censor for Life, was attending. Due to TS' schedule, the Censors had voted to allow him to leave when he so desired, but he couldn't vote when away.

The famous, Mason-like secrecy of the town's ruling body attracted a small crowd of tourists and conspiracy nuts, who watched with fascination the creatures filing in.

The forty Censors, all robed in the heavy black and red garments, waddled (or limped, some were ancient) down the center aisle from the front doors, carpeted red, and sat in the pews, which were old benches with red cushions on the back. The large, garage door-like gate was lifted up in the back of the Hall. From it, the Mayor, Baldurshroom, was wheeled in. He was a black, wispy wraith attached to a large, sinister-looking machine. An attempt to dress it up involved a red and yellow stole draped on it. The machine took up the entire area, except for the two red deacon chairs.

Then, the Censors rose as a teen penguin with long, brown scene hair (from the video game ratings division of the city government) rushed in carrying a large, ornate, thick rod with a red-and-white sphere on top. It was handed off to the seargeant at arms as the adolescent stood to the left.

TurtleShroom, wearing the elaborate costume (which, until a picture can be found, looks like this and Ness' clothes combined) reserved for his town's office and the special hat associated with it. Following him was the Chairman of the Cream Soda Destruction League.

Finally, wearing a ID badge reading "VISITOR", Hat Pop was escourted in and ordered to stand in the back of the building and remain totally silent. She was wearing a veil over her rabbit ears, as was required of female participants and VIPs in the hall.

These two penguins sat down and the doors were shut and locked. The Board of Censors had convened.

The ghastly wraith wrapped a tentacle-like portion of his gas-ish form on the old gavel and rapped it several times. From it croaked a raspy, otherwordly voice as disturbing as the wraith itself.

"By the... g...r...a...c...e... of the... sky... programmers.............. the Mattress Village Board....... of... c.....e.......n......s.....o.....r.....s...... hereby.... convenes and comes.... to...... o....r......d.......e.........r...... -and so... I hereby.... turn... the moderation of.... the meeting............. to the sergeant-at-.....a....r.......m.....s...... -and..... my.... great-grandson...."

The Sergeant nodded and took over.

"Year Two Thousand Eleven Anno Domini. Mattress Village Board of Censors, Emergency Session: no actual emergency. Censor for Life, Elder TurtleShroom, present and presiding. Meeting called by the Censor for Life for brief note in administration of the Board. As this is not a legislative session, no Minutes or other procedures will be conducted."

TurtleShroom nodded.

"Thank you, Saergeant at Arms. Fellow High Elders, I have convened a non-Sunday meeting to discuss with you an important decision in regards to my personal life. This would normally be excluded from the halls, but it's in pertinance to my capacity to preside."

The Censors looked at each other, and then back at TS.

"I'm decided to revoke my personal decision not to date nor consider a spouse in the deep future."

Faint gasps and murmurs began amongst the forty convened, as they looked at each other in shock. Some older Censors complained to each other while younger ones gossiped and gestured to each other. The Seargeant and the mace-bearer kid looked at each other with a look of surprise. The few more liberal Censors rested their beaks on their flippers and scoffed.

"In pertinance to the Board's bylaws, I must vacate the office of Censor for Life for the next two weeks. That is a-"

"Who's da woman, Turtle?" an old Censor asked, rising. TS looked at him, because he had not followed the procedure. He gestured for the Censor to continue.

"Her name is Rocketta Slugster-Meltissimo."

More murmurs. A censor raised his flipper.

"The chair acknowledges the Left Censor in Pew Two, Right. Elder?" TS inquired.

"Ain't she a little young fer ya? I mean, REALLY young?"

Snickers followed. TS blushed a bit around his beak.

"I have no idea what you speak of, Elder."

"She's a chick and yer old! Ya'll could be her pa!"

TS continued blushing.

"It's not as it seems. We are merely meeting for coff-"

"OBJECTION!" another Censor, one of the oldest, said, rising to his feet with his cane.

"It's just an attempt for ya to appeal to da youngsters! A peng-in as you shouldn't be lowerin' yerself to some immodest kid!"

"Elder, she is not.... that immodest."

The murmurs grew louder.

"She's socially inept, though."

"What's her opinion on morality?"

TS rubbed his flipper nervously on the back of his neck. "She's a good penguin, Elder. Would I gather with one who isn't?"

"I reckon that's true." the Censor responded. "...-but what's her general behave-ya?"

"Elder, I don't believe you have the authority to question such aspects of my personal life."


"I am not!"


"Elder, that is-"

"Rocketta, Rocketta, Rocketta!" the Censor shouted. "She's all ya mentioned last meetin' you came! You been thinkin' of her 'fore yer duties! I demand a full AUDIT of yer private life!"

The entire Board fell into absolute silence. TurtleShroom swallowed. The Censor had moved to investigate if TS was corrupt!

"The... th-.... Elder has moved to.... open an inquiry into the impurities of my personal and official life. All in favor of this audit, please rise."

One Censor rose.


Most of the rest rose, while the rest didn't vote. TS sighed with great relief. That didn't stop the crazy Censor.


The gavel was slammed several times.

"O...r.....d....e....r..........!" Baldurshroom hissed.

"Elder, you will observe regular order in this meeting!" TS said angrily. "Do not insult me or Miss Slug in such a manner!"

The elder ignored him and continued ranting furiously. He'd lost all reason and had switched to Insane Troll Logic.

"A penguin of your sort, hangin' out with that little kindergartner, ya'll disgracin' this great city and shamin' yer very family! Yer Ma, if she be here, she'd be screamin' at ya! ...-and I 'wanna slap ya fer it! Slap so hard yer Wookie-pedia minions be a-feelin' it fer weeks!"

TS furrowed his brow and gestured to the Seargeant at Arms, who raised the rod at the unruly Censor. TS hadn't taken such personal objection as to use the rod in years.

"How dare you!! Elder, you are completely out of order!"

"NO YOU ARE!" the Censor snapped back. TS had the Seargeant raise the rod at the Censor again, and keep holding it up. TS had, effectively, ordered the silence of that crazy old bird. The Censors all glared at the old man, who was behaving absolutely wretched.

The mace bearer made a "psst" to TurtleShroom. He sighed and looked at the teenaged penguin. He brushed his hair out of his eyes in respect and looked up at him.

"Sir, may I talk?"

TS nodded: "The Chair acknowledges the volunteer mace bearer."

"Elder Jones, while there ain't nothin' wrong with your friendship with this Slug gal... me and the rest of them down on the Vidya Game Ratin' Board know her a bit."

"You do?" TS asked, intriqued. "Please tell."

"She's an outcast, sir. A nut. A loony. She ain't all the way thar. Her cheese ain't always on her cracker. Loves games, course. As a kid mahself, I have to say from my knowledge. She ain't cool. Goin' around with her'll hurt yer already 'uncool' reputation."

TS looked out at the crowd of Censors. They shrugged, not really sure what was "cool".

"It has never bothered me if I was, to myself or the Masses, 'cool', young Rater of the Board. I care not about my reputation, for my character is what matters. What others think of me matters not when-"

The mace bearer cut off TS' growing filibuster.

"Elder Jones, have you ever, just once, wanted to try 'n be cool? Fer me, can ya try?"

TS paused for a moment and rubbed his beak.

"Well, I guess I can give it a shot, son. Sure. I'll try and be... cool... -but who do I know that's cool? Certainly, it'd be somebody young, beautiful, honorable, modest, graceful..."

A Censor raised a flipper.

"The Chair acknowledges the Right Censor in the back right aisle. Elder?"

"What about that there rabbit girl visitin' today? Is she 'cool'? Ask her."

The other Censors nodded in agreement.

"All in favor of permitting a female to speak in the assembled Board?"

Seeing the importance of this, a narrow majority of Censors stood.

"The Board has suspended its silence of the fairer gender. Miss Pop, please come forward and, in accordance with protocol, sit at my feet. Whisper to the Sergeant at Arms your wishes and he will repeat verbatim."

Hat Pop nodded, adjusting her bunny hat. She did so, finding the ceremony odd, and spoke to the Sergeant, who began shifting the rod from his left flipper to his right as he listened.

"The woman says 'I'd be available'."

The Censors nodded happily, but TS shook his head.

"Miss Pop, I think you are not the bird I seek in this situation. Let me think of another..."

There was a pause.

"Oh, yeah! Rocket's cool!"

Hat Pop let out a fake scream on cue. The Censors glared at her and the Seargeant pointed the rod a little close to her beak for comfort.

"No talkin' unless spoke to, girlie!"

"Okay. Great-Grandfather, take it away, please."

Baldurshroom adjourned the meeting as the Censors filed out, all chatting away about the odd meeting.

TS, meanwhile, had a friend to visit.

Chapter Two: Informality is a Better Read[edit]

RS, meanwhile, was in a study hall session, silently trying to calculate circumference and area from her math homework. The birds around her were loud and disruptive, as they cracked and popped their bubblegum (against study hall rules), flung paper footballs (against study hall rules), blew spit balls (against study hall rules), and just plain yelled and chased each other (DEFINITELY against the rules; worth a suspension from school). Irvins was poking her, a failed attempt to tell her that he could "totally own her in Super Sapie Bros. Brawl."

Rocket's phone went off on vibrate, a light buzzing on her leg. She was too busy to answer as she slapped her flipper across Irvins' chubby face. She finally got a good grasp on the Ice-Phone and answered it discreetly. "Hello? Uh-huh, yeah. Alright, I'll tell her. Bye!" She hung up. The bell rang, and she ran towards her locker, leaning against it as she called her mother. "Mom, change of plans. Instead of meeting TurtleShroom at the soda shop, we're gonna-"

Martha, RS' step-mother on the other line, practically had steam shooting out her earholes.

"TurtleShroom?!? That old bird is all you talk about. It makes you... lemme get a good grasp on what I'm gonna say... UNCOOL."

RS gasped. "What? I'm uncool only because TS is a friend of mine?"

"Yes, Rocketta. You, a twelve-year-old girl, paired with an old adult like him, causes nothing but trouble. By that definition, you're uncool, so me, as a PTO mother, am also uncool. YOU SEE WHAT YOUR PROBLEMS ARE CAUSING ME?!?" Martha breathed heavily.

"But we were just gonna go to-"

"UGH! Just be cool for once, and NEVER hang out with that dinosaur again!" Martha hung up angrily, and began to brew her fourth cup of coffee. She could not believe how irresponsible her daughter was.

"Be cool... Who's cool?" RS tapped her beak in deep thought. "TurtleShroom! He's pretty hip-on-da-fo-rizzle for being an oldster! He could teach me how to be cool!" She smiled and began to dial his number as the bell for her next class rang.

Chapter 3: Meet Me In Resisty[edit]

As TurtleShroom sat in the assembly hall's cafeteria eating a fish fillet, his cell phone began to ring. Being the old-fashioned bird he is, he bought his phone in 2007 and kept it in good condition. He would buy a new one, he decided, when this one reached a state of complete and utter decay.

TurtleShroom freed a flipper from his meal and answered the phone, which was held together with industrial-strength tape and had its buttons stuck back on with bubblegum. "Hello, this is TurtleShroom speaking. Please state your business."

"TurtleShroom, meet me in the alleyways of Resisty Circle. We've got plans," the voice on the other line said. TS recognized the voice; it was his good friend Rocket Slug!

"Rocket Slug," he replied. "Salutations. Or as the cool birds say, 'what is on the ceiling?'"

He could hear RS' annoyed grunt on the other line. "We say 'what's up', TS. What's up. Not 'what's on the ceiling'; what does that even mean?! Ugh. Anyway, I was hoping that we could hang out tonight. It is a Friday night, after all, and I was told by my mom to act -"

"Cool." TS was able to finish the sentence, remembering what he had heard before.

"How'd you know?"

TS groaned. "I just got the same lecture earlier. Believe me, it's hard to be good friends with someone so young."

"Okay. So, you know my neighborhood, Resisty Circle, right?"

"Rocket Slug, that's quite the long distance. I may not be able to make it by nightfall."

RS showed no hesitation in coming up with a dumb idea. "So? Meet me later in the night."

TS nodded. "Alright. And what will we do from there?"

"There's a rave tonight at the community center. It's a bit later tonight, I already bought the tickets, whaddaya say?"

TurtleShroom was confused, but he was looking forward to seeing his friend nonetheless. "Okay. I will try to get there as fast as I can tonight. I'll see you later, RS."

"See you, TurtleShroom." TS heard a click, the click of RS ending the call. TS put his phone down and finished his lunch, which had unfortunately turned cold.