Choose Your Own Freaking Adventure: Just 4 Kidz Edition!

By Veronica Toone

An excerpt from “Nonsense 4 Kidz”


Well howdy there, boys and girls! It’s time to GO INSIDE OUR NOGGINS and create a wonderful adventure before we’re inevitably thrust into the CRUEL AND UNFORTUNATE SET OF CIRCUMSTANCES AND PAIN we’ll call the rest of our lives!

Are you ready to get started? No? Tough! Life is hard, Timmy, and the sooner you come to realize that, the sooner you’ll appreciate the flickering light of your DYING IMAGINATION! So get ready, kids, and STRAP IN, because this week’s fun-tastic adventure is:



START RIGHT HERE: Your name is TIMMY JOHNSON. You’re an eight year-old with the intelligence level of the average comic book eight year-old. You live with MOM AND DAD, two confused caricatures of generic middle-class adults with a child smarter than they are combined. You like SpongeBob SquarePants and Minecraft.

It’s a Tuesday afternoon. You’re sitting in a classroom full of your friends and they all love you. You’re wearing your favorite Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles shirt, and you’re happy as can be! Your teacher calls on you to answer the question, but oh no: you weren’t paying attention! “Timmy!” she bellows, with the force to bring an elephant to its knees, “don’t make me ask you a third time: what is seven plus two?”

If you decide to answer correctly because you’re a good boy who never touches his no-no square, go to PARAGRAPH 2.

If you can’t remember, go to PARAGRAPH 3.


PARAGRAPH 2: “Nine,” you retort, slouching back in your uncomfortable plastic chair. The teacher nods, satisfied (which means she’s happy! Good job! Gold star! Big sticker!), and moves on to harrow some other prey. You pull out your CRAYONS and begin to color a super duper fantastic picture of something totally wicked cool, like you as a superhero or something. “Attention, class,” your ambiguous teacher calls, “there will be a D.A.R.E. meeting today after snack time. Be sure to be ready to ask some questions!” A collective groan rises from your peers, but you’re excited about this news. A D.A.R.E. meeting? They have all kinds of helpful know-how. The bell rings, and the sound of fourteen plastic chairs scooting across linoleum echoes through the room.



PARAGRAPH 3: You can’t remember what seven plus two is? It’s in the paragraph right above this. Golly gee, you’ve been chowing down on those “special” gummies, haven’t you, Timmy?

Aww, darn: you’re in TIME OUT! Go back to PARAGRAPH 1.


SNACK TIME: You reach into your Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers lunch box and retrieve one WARM TUBE OF GOGURT, one bag of CRUSHED-UP GOLDFISH CRACKERS, and one POUCH OF CAPRI SUN (now equipped!). Nice. After a brief trade of with a sad-looking boy named Matt, you get a pack of DUNKAROOS in place of your warm GoGurt. Sucker. You finish your snacks and throw out your garbage like a good boy who never touches his no-no square. “Line up, boys and girls!” shouts your teacher, spraying spit across the room like a damn sprinkler. You jostle your way to the front of the line, standing like a general leading his foul-smelling, poorly-dressed kid troops into battle, and make your way to the GYM.

To pay attention, go to PARAGRAPH 5.

To zone out during the meeting, go to PARAGRAPH 6.


PARAGRAPH 5: After what seems like the rest of the school year’s worth of shushing and whispered scolding from more ambivalent teachers, a MAN walks onto the stage. He’s dressed in a nice suit, and has powdered sugar under his nose. “Hey, kids!” he says, and his voice is very loud. “You wanna know about drugs?” He pauses and wipes his nose. “I was born in the back of a van in 1978. My mother was a taxi driver and my dad was unemployed. I had big dreams of being a musician—” he stops for a second to wipe the sweat off of his hands, “—but that never happened.” He lets out a shrill laugh. “So, I’m here to talk to you today about why drugs are awful and you shouldn’t do them. For example: cocaine! Cocaine is a drug that costs a lot more money than it used to, believe me. But cocaine is a white powder that you snort up your nose.” He wiped his nose again. “And it makes you high. Does anyone know what high is?” A few precocious children that are still trying to feebly grasp at their innocence raise their hands. “Well, getting high is when you feel really really good for a little while!” He glances offstage quickly before turning his attention back to the audience. “But it feels bad after! So you shouldn’t do it, or something.”

Continue to PARAGRAPH 7.


PARAGRAPH 6: It’s always stifling in the gym, but you try to make it work. You make eyes at Susie Barnes, sitting about three rows to the right of you. She’s fine as hell and you know it. You turn your head to the front, and don’t pay attention.

What’s wrong with you? Pay attention, you rascal, you! Go back to PARAGRAPH 4!


PARAGRAPH 7: You put your hand up and wait patiently for him to call on you. “What?!” he suddenly says in your direction, turning dilated pupils on you. “Mister,” you ask, “do you buy cocaine with money, or can you trade it?” There’s a moment of silence, and then he laughs harshly. “Kid, you can get cocaine by doing lots of stuff. You can buy it with money, or sell other drugs, like a trade, or you can sell yourself!” There is a murmur off-stage, and he suddenly changes the subject. “Does anyone want some stickers?” Everyone around you cheers, and you decide you’ll wait until the end of the meeting for any further questions. He talks some more about a sad man he knew that took lots of cocaine, and now he drives around in a beat up 2007 Ford Fusion – whatever that is – and goes around to schools all the time, and that it’s a horrible job. After that, he finishes by tossing stickers into the crowd to the small, eager hands that awaited below.

To ask the man more questions, go to PARAGRAPH 8.

To grab at the stickers and never ask questions, go HOME.


PARAGRAPH 8: You make your way through the crowd before the D.A.R.E. man can leave and tug on his sleeve. He smells like old milk and fire smoke. “What is it, kid?” he asks. “Do you like your job?” “Yeah, it’s great,” he says off-handedly, and reaches into his pocket to pull out a CIGARETTE. Your teacher always says that cigarettes are bad. “Is that a cigarette?” you ask dumbly, and the man turns his attention to you. “You ever try sherm?” You make a note to ask MOM what sherm is, and shake your head no. He waves a funny-smelling stick thing in your face. “This is what grown-ups do when they’re bored. ‘S called a joint. Your Mommy and Daddy probably use this when they’re at home, after they’re done…” he thinks for a moment, then says, “doing their taxes.” “What’s in it? Did you buy it from your friends?” You don’t mean to annoy him; you just have so many questions! Frustrated, the man reaches into his pocket and pulls out a TWENTY DOLLAR BILL. “Here, kid, if I give ya twenty bucks, will you get lost?” You’re fairly sure you could buy France with that kind of money, and he just shoved it into your hand like it was disposable. You take off with the money and jump onto the bus.

Continue HOME.


HOME: You jump onto your familiar yellow friend the school bus, amidst the harsh words slung around by careless children and the broken eyes of today’s youth. You take your seat next to your AMBIGUOUS FRIEND, and the bus rumbles away from the school. You stare out the window and talk to no one, thinking about all of the video games you’re gonna buy with your twenty dollars. You hop off the bus and go to YOUR ANTIQUATED HOUSE, and you’re greeted by your confused caricature of a middle-class generic white woman. She is wearing a bathrobe. “Timmy!” she says with surprise, “you’re home early!” “Yeah! There was a D.A.R.E. meeting, and school got out early because the meeting was over, and I got twenty dollars!” you tell her. She nods. “Right, honey, but why don’t you wait outside? Dad and I are doing our taxes—can you play with the dog for another forty-five minutes?” You nod and obediently and go to the backyard. It was a great day.

THE END. Super job, or something!