The R13s had a different activity planned for each day of Mr. Cherches’s visit. His second day on Mars, Mr. Cherches went to school with Tiffany.
“Class, I’d like you all to say hello to our visitor from Earth, Mr. Cherches,” said Tiffany’s teacher, Ms. GL-H52.
“Hello, Mr. Churchill,” said the class, and they all giggled.
“Now I’d like to begin our math lesson,” said Ms. H52.
The class all paid attention as Ms. H52 read them the math problem. “Mother VB-M35-T88 is preparing meat loaf for her family. There are five members of the T88 family, two adults and three children. If a Martian adult eats 12 ounces of meat loaf, and a Martian child eats 8 ounces of meat loaf, how many pounds of meat loaf does Mother T88 prepare?”
Tiffany was the first to raise her hand. “Yes, WZ-R13,” said Ms. H52, “do you think you know the answer?”
“Yes,” said Tiffany. “Mother T88 makes 6 pounds of meat loaf.”
“And how did you arrive at that solution?” asked Ms. H52.
Tiffany explained. “Two adults eat 12 ounces each, which is 24 ounces. Three children eat 8 ounces each, which is another 24 ounces. Together that’s 48 ounces, which is 3 pounds.”
“Go on,” said Ms. H52.
“But Mother T88 always makes enough for leftovers, so that makes 6 pounds.”
“That is correct,” said Ms. H52. “But how did you know about the leftovers?”
“Because the T88s are our neighbors,” said Tiffany.
After class Mr. Cherches held Tiffany’s hand as they walked back to the shelter unit. “I was very proud of you when you answered the math problem,” said Mr. Cherches. “I would never have known that Mother T88 always makes leftovers.”
“Thank you, Mr. Churchill,” said Tiffany.
“By the way, Tiffany,” said Mr. Cherches, “what are the secret ingredients in Martian meat loaf?”
“I don’t know,” said Tiffany. “Only full-size Martians know the secrets of meat loaf.”
Drat! Mr. Cherches thought to himself. He felt like a worm for trying to wangle the secret ingredients out of a little kid, but he just had to know how to make Martian meat loaf.
* * *
The following day Bud, Max and Mr. Cherches went to the ball game. As they settled into their seats a food vendor came around. “Get yer hot meat loaf on a roll,” he called out.
Bud raised his hand and said, “Yo! Three meat loaf.”
The food guy handed him three sandwiches and said, “That’ll be forty-two marsnitzes.” Bud handed the guy a fifty and got eight marsnitzes in change.
Mr. Cherches couldn’t figure out the game. The field had orange turf on which were painted what looked like random numbers. A guy threw a green basketball at another guy who held a big tennis racquet. The guy with the racquet swung and missed. Then he started running around the field like a chicken with his head cut off. A guy from the other team tackled him as the crowd cheered.
“I don’t understand this game,” Mr. Cherches said to Bud. “Could you explain it to me?”
“I’m afraid not,” said Bud. “We can’t make any sense of it either. We just come out for the meat loaf sandwiches.”
While Bud and Max chomped on their sandwiches, Mr. Cherches ran after the meat loaf vendor. Mr Cherches pulled up right behind the vendor and said, “Hey guy, I forgot what the secret ingredients in meat loaf are. Can you remind me?”
“Sure,” said the meat loaf guy, “first there’s–” Then he turned around so he could see who had asked the question. But when he saw Mr. Cherches he changed his tune. “Wait a minute–you’re not a Martian. I could lose my job if I told you the secret ingredients. And what’s worse, I wouldn’t be able to eat no more meat loaf for the rest of my life. Now get out of my face!”
Curses, thought Mr. Cherches, foiled again.
* * *
On the fourth day Mr. Cherches went with Maggie to her office.
Maggie was a web page designer. She worked for the most popular website on Mars, allaboutmeatloaf.com.
Maggie showed Mr. Cherches around the office and introduced him to her co-workers. A female named GG-O22 shook Mr. Cherches’s hand and said, “I’ve never met an Earthling before. I’ve seen pictures, but they’re much better looking in person.” Mr. Cherches blushed.
Maggie took Mr. Cherches to her cubicle. She logged on to the computer and brought up the All About Meat Loaf home page. All of a sudden Mr. Cherches smelled the most wonderful aroma. “Is somebody cooking meat loaf?” he asked.
“No,” said Maggie, “that’s the odor module you’re smelling. All websites on Mars are odor-enabled.” Mr. Cherches was glad Maggie didn’t work for All About Bathrooms.
Maggie gave Mr. Cherches a tour of the website. “We have a ‘History of Meat Loaf’ page, a recipe section, and a series of pages about meat loaf on other planets.”
“Oh, is there meat loaf on other planets besides Mars and Earth?” Mr. Cherches asked.
“Of course,” said Maggie. “Martian explorers introduced meat loaf to Jupiter and Saturn ages ago. We’ve tried to bring meat loaf to Venus too, but those Venusians are so primitive. All they’ll eat is pot roast.”
Just then a female voice came over the intercom: “VB-B42-R13, could you please come to my office. I’d like to go over the latest updates.”
“That was my boss,” said Maggie. “I’ll just be gone a couple of minutes. Make yourself at home, Mr. Cherches.”
This was Mr. Cherches’s lucky break. While Maggie was gone he could look up the Martian meat loaf recipe on the website. He sat down in Maggie’s chair, grabbed the mouse, and clicked on the “Recipes” link. When he did that, a box popped up that said: “Restricted area. Please enter password.” Mr. Cherches didn’t know what to do, so he typed some random characters and clicked “OK,” hoping for the best. Unfortunately, he got the worst. A loud, screaming siren went off and all the lights in the office started flashing.
Maggie came running back to the cubicle, along with her boss and a security guard who had his laser gun pointed right at Mr. Cherches. “What happened?” Maggie asked.
Mr. Cherches was sweating bullets. He had to think of something pretty quick. “Ahem,” said Mr. Cherches, “I was trying to get my e-mail. I must have pushed a wrong button.”
* * *To be continued . . .