ROBYN RE­PORTS The Nutty Neigh­bour­hood Block Party

Chap­ter 6: Time to Spit

The Hamilton Spectator - - LIVING - STORY BY STACY TORNIO IL­LUS­TRA­TIONS BY ROEL WIELINGA

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!” To be con­tin­ued Wed­nes­day. Next Time: A Spit­ting Dis­pute

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