Jiffy Jess

It all started when Jess decided he didn’t have time to change clothes. He was in a hurry to get out to the playground where his friends were waiting. So he put on his playclothes right over his school clothes and went outside to play.

Now that wasn’t too bad, but the next morning …

“Remember to put on a clean undershirt,” Mother said when she woke Jess up.

“Yes, Mother,” Jess answered. And that is what he did. He put it on, but he didn’t take the old one off.

Jess smiled in the mirror. “That’s very smart of you,” he said to his reflection.

“Just think of the time you’re saving. Soon they’ll be calling you Jiffy Jess!”

And then he got another idea. “I can save even more time if I just put my clothes on over my pajamas.” He smiled proudly at his reflection. “Then at night I’ll only have to take off my clothes and hop into bed.”

And that’s what he did. His school clothes went on right over his two undershirts and his pajamas. It was quite warm, but if it would save time, it was worth it, Jess decided.

That afternoon he ran home and hurried to get ready to go outside to play. He pulled on his old shirt and pants over his school clothes, his play socks over his school socks, and then his shoes. It was a tight fit, but he made it.

As he went out the door, Mother stopped him. “Are you all right?” she asked.

“I’m fine,” Jess answered.

Mother took a step backwards and looked very carefully at Jess. She looked up to his head and down to his feet and then she shook her head.

“You seem to be putting on weight,” she said. “Gaining that much weight so fast isn’t good. Are you sure you’re all right?”

Jess was laughing inside, but he didn’t let Mother know. Somehow he knew she wouldn’t approve of what he was doing.

“I’m fine, Mother,” he said, trying not to smile. “May I go out now?”

“I guess so, but I’m worried about you.” Mother seemed bewildered.

“Don’t worry,” Jess shouted over his shoulder as he went out the door. “I’m just fine.”

He tried to run out to the baseball field where his friends were waiting, but with all those clothes on he could barely trot.

“It’s about time you got here,” Jonathan said, hitting his fist in his baseball mitt. “You’ve been holding up the game.”

“Throw me the catcher’s mitt and let’s play ball!” Jess shouted.

Jess got behind the batter and tried to squat, but his knees wouldn’t bend.

“Come on! Come on!” Jonathan shouted from the pitcher’s mound. “Let’s get going!”

Once more Jess tried to bend over, but it hurt! His knees felt as if they were wrapped in giant bandages, and he could barely breathe. He stood up straight, took a deep breath, and again tried to squat down. But with pajamas, two pairs of pants, two undershirts, two shirts, and two pairs of socks, he could barely even bend. He looked around to see if anyone had noticed. They had. Eight pairs of glaring eyes were moving in on him from the field.

“What’s wrong with you?” David asked in amazement.

“Well … well … ah …” Jess stammered, trying to figure out how to explain. He knew everyone would laugh at him. He could feel his face growing red with embarrassment.

“Here, Joel,” Jess finally said as he threw the mitt. “You catch. I’ll be right back.”

Jess trotted as fast as possible to the house. He took off all his clothes. Then he put his playclothes on again and started out the door.

“I thought you had gone,” Mother said without looking up.

“I forgot something,” Jess said.

“Oh,” Mother smiled at Jess. Then her eyebrows knitted in wonder and she shook her head.

“My, oh my,” she said. “You seem to have lost at least ten pounds! Are you sure you feel all right?”

“I feel better than I’ve felt all day!” Jess said as he ran back out to the playground to play ball.

[illustrations] Illustrated by JaNeanne Webster