back to school with judy blume: tales of a fourth grade nothing

Dear Judy,

I started talking about Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing to my girlfriend last night while we were sitting at the dinner table. Dinner was delicious — mashed potatoes topped with chicken breast, broccoli, onions, and parmesan slivers — and I was expressing my displeasure at feeling pretty blocked with what to write about this one. I read it in about an hour and a half on Thursday morning, set it down on the side table next to our couch, and forgot about it immediately.

This isn’t to say it’s forgettable, Judy! Not at all. Quite the contrary, I learned, as my dinnertime conversation devolved into me screaming, “He ate the turtle! He just ate it! He just swallowed his brother’s turtle and no one cared. It was all ‘Poor Fudge!’ and ‘We have to save Fudge!’ and no concern that this sociopathic animal child just ate his brother’s pet!” I could say it’s unlike me to dissolve into outraged screams over fiction, but it’s really, really not.

I recounted Fudge’s many and sundry sins to my girlfriend as we were finishing up our meal and grew more and more outraged by the utterly dreadful parenting going on around these kids. They are so permissive of Fudge’s abominable behavior that it ends with him eating an animal alive! I wish you could hear me screaming through the internet, Judy, because I am that outraged. And then, once the drama of Fudge passing the turtle through his digestive tract has ceased, these atrocious parents buy the kid a puppy and joke that they made sure it would get too big for Fudge to eat.

Judy, can we stop and address the absolute terror you’ve inflicted on the world here? Fudge eats his brother’s pet! A tiny, helpless, living creature with whom his big brother Peter has formed a bond and with whom Fudge has been told time and time again not to touch. I am so traumatized!

I’ve never been a parent and, barring a large seismic shift in the universe, will never be, but even all other behavior aside, I can assure you that if my three-year-old ate someone’s pet, I’d at least be taking him in for psychiatric observation. This is not a cricket or a caterpillar or dirt. This is someone’s beloved companion. This will be the only thing I ever think about ever again in my life.

I am going to be screaming about this turtle being eaten by a three-year-old until I die. My last words are going to be, “He was just a little turtle! How could you?! How could you?!” and then I’ll expire in a great gust of breath and unanswered questions.

Judy, I love you, but gawd save you. Gawd save us all.

– Ash