the museum of americana

a literary review

Guidance Counselor’s Notes: The Marten School for Mustelids Mid-Year Evaluations—Fiction by Laura Jackson Roberts

Name: Mink (Neovison vison)

Year: Sophomore

Notes

Mink transferred to The Marten School for Mustelids from Water Weasel Academy after her freshman year. At first, she seemed to be successfully integrating herself with her classmates—she is not the first aquatic weasel to attend The Marten School—but unlike the otters who have matriculated through our program, Mink’s diminutive size and initial timidity made her an atypical student.

As Mink has established a social circle, it has become apparent that she holds strong beliefs about fur farms. She regularly works the subject into classroom time, often redirecting the topic of discussion. While the administration encourages student activism and decries the wearing of fur, Mink’s rhetoric has become a distraction for other students. Instead of forming adolescent friendships, Mink has organized a militant arm of students who engage in potentially dangerous extracurricular activities with a group of sables from UC Berkeley. Mink  was recently arrested after chaining herself to the counter in the fur department at Burlington Coat Factory.

College

Though Mink is still in her sophomore year of high school, she has expressed a keen interest in obtaining a bachelor’s degree. Given her strong dedication to activism—she was recently dismissed from social studies when, according to Mr. Stoat, she stood on her chair and began to shout about mass chinchilla electrocutions—it is my recommendation that Mink consider a career in academia.

 

Name: Honey Badger (Mellivora capensis)

Year: Junior

Notes

Honey Badger is a transfer student from Wisconsin, where he attended an exclusive academy for young Honey Badgers. His education until now has been limited to digging and foraging. Thus, his integration into the Marten School’s curriculum has not been as smooth as the administration had hoped. Though he excels in sports such as track and field, his limited attention span has been a problem in the classroom where instructors find him to be hostile and belligerent. He has been sent to detention several times for telling his French teacher that he “doesn’t give a shit.”

We have tried to engage Honey Badger in a variety of academic pursuits, but his attitude is disruptive. He was recently discovered in the computer lab during fifth period lunch biting the heads off the power cords, causing over $2,800 in damages. The department budget lacked the funds to replace the wiring, so the junior class volunteered to have a community car wash to raise money for their computer lab. Honey Badger attended the car wash, mauled the water hoses, and bit a nun.

The administration has spoken with Honey Badger’s parents, who report similar behavioral issues at home. At first, they thought it was transitional stress, but his aggressive tendencies persist. They suspect he may have eaten the family cat.

At this time, we have altered Honey Badger’s class schedule to include fewer academics and more physical education. He spends seven out of eight hours in the gymnasium.

College

Honey Badger may not be suited for college. Our assessments indicate a proclivity for the destructive arts; when he has achieved a more advanced level of maturity, he may wish to consider a career in demolition. If Honey Badger aspires to higher education, he should remember that he ate his Scholastic Aptitude Test and will need to retake the examination.

 

Name: Skunk (Mephitis mephitis)

Year: Junior

Notes

When Sunk arrived here, the administration had its doubts about her ability to assimilate. All weasels find themselves at an olfactory disadvantage among the general populous, but Skunk faced social challenges even here at The Marten School, all of which she overcame. She maintains a 3.9 GPA and has become an active member of the local performance art community, beginning in her freshman year when she gave an effluvious performance as Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. More recently, Skunk wrote a one-woman show in which she delves deeply into society’s ideas on self-worth and shame, earning her statewide recognition. She was invited to the governor’s mansion but was ultimately forced to meet with the governor outside so he could stand upwind.

It is with deep regret that I file Skunk’s transfer paperwork. We have been notified by the Journal of Mammalogy that skunks are no longer considered members of Mustelidae, the weasel family. Recent genetic evidence indicates that Skunk should be classified as a member of Mephitidae, the stink badger family.

We are sorry to see her go. Skunk was not only accepted here but well-liked. Moreover, she served as a role model for some of our more pungent freshmen who struggle with their self-image and anal glands.

College

Though Skunk will not earn her diploma at the Marten School for Mustelids, I believe she should look to the Ivy League in her future academic pursuits. She would be a feather in the cap of The Yale School of Drama.

 

Name: Ferret (Mustela putorius furo)

Year: Freshman

Notes

Ferret matured in his “growing year” as he repeated eighth grade. He no longer gets up from his desk to dig in the trash can or crawl through HVAC ductwork. However, Ferret still struggles with impulse control and kleptomania. He continues to hide other students’ keys, pens, and eyeglasses in his locker.

Recently, Ferret’s homeroom teacher observed his classmates teasing him about his ear tattoo. The teacher explained to the class that domesticated ferrets receive this tattoo when they are born, but it seems to have rattled Ferret’s confidence. He now asks his instructors and peers to refer to him as a European Polecat. His grades have begun to slip and he has withdrawn from his social circle. Twice in the last month Ferret was caught stashing the school’s AV equipment in the back of a janitorial supply closet. Rather than scruffing him and telling him, “No!” in a sharp voice, we have removed him from the stressful homeroom situation and given him extra exercise time.

College

The college application process is a long way away, and Ferret must continue to resist his pilfering urges. He will not be permitted to move on to tenth grade until he has accounted for the stolen items, in particular the custodian’s floor mop and the lunch lady’s hairnet.

 

Name: Fisher (Martes pennant)

Year: Junior

Notes

During Fisher’s fall semester she participated in the social studies fair, for which she prepared an interactive presentation about her mother and uncle, who as children were orphaned and subsequently rescued and reared by wildlife expert Marty Stouffer. The Fisher family was featured on an episode of Stouffer’s Wild America in the 1980’s. Fisher arranged for Mr. Stouffer to come and speak to the students about his experiences with wildlife rehabilitation. He was so impressed with the caliber of our student body that he established the Stouffer Scholarship here at Marten.

Fisher has enjoyed some notoriety as a result of her famous family, and several students have questioned her role as the lead soprano in the school’s upcoming production of The Pirates of Penzance. As is common with her species, Fisher is a strong screamer, but her instrument lacks finesse: during practice, she shattered the southwest window in the music room. Parents have accused the department of preferential treatment and, at this time, it’s unclear whether Fisher legitimately earned her role.  

College

While Juilliard’s Marcus Institute for Vocal Arts has never accepted a soprano weasel (the Class of 2016 graduated two belugas and a beagle), Fisher was admitted into their summer program without even an interview. Her parents have indicated a preference for Julliard, Berklee College of Music, or the Oberlin Conservatory and expressed a willingness to do whatever it takes to help their daughter succeed. The Office of Advancement has asked me not to contact Mr. Stouffer regarding my concerns.

 

Name: Wolverine (Gulo gulo)

Year: Senior

Notes

When Wolverine arrived as a freshman, he was a wild animal. True to his nomenclature, Gulo gulo, “the glutton,” he spent his time scavenging the cafeteria leftovers and picking fights with the seniors. His behavioral issues came to a head in tenth grade when he became stuck in a bathroom stall and tried to gnaw his own leg off to escape.

Wolverine has since made an effort to improve himself. His wrestling coach offers Wolverine the highest praise for his efforts on the mat. He has led the varsity team to two state championships, although the school received a fair amount of negative press when his opponent, a bobcat from Rufus Park High, had to undergo facial reconstructive surgery. No one was more surprised than Wolverine when he was elected Homecoming King, and I believe it cemented in him the notion that he is more than just a frightening face.

College

Last year, Wolverine was scouted by the wrestling coaches of the University of Michigan, but they felt that Wolverine might have territoriality issues with school’s mascot and did not make an offer. With the possibility of placement on a college team eliminated, he seems to have lost interest in schooling of any sort. Instead, he has expressed interest in moving to Canada. For now, I am encouraging Wolverine to go out into the wilderness to find himself.

~~~

Laura Jackson Roberts is an environmental writer and humorist. Her work has appeared BrevityBrain Child Magazine, Animal, Matador Network, Defenestration, Halfway Down the Stairs, and the Erma Bombeck humor site, among others. She lives in Wheeling, West Virginia and holds an MFA from Chatham University. Visit her online at www.laurajacksonroberts.com.