It’s Christmas, 1982 and Miss Mussel is 13 days in to 4 years old. That morning, she received a new purse, a notepad with alternating pages of pastel blue, pink, yellow and green and a pencil. The paper is coarse and the pencil doesn’t show up well.
It’s annoying but this is her first day on the job. Less-than-optimal equipment is not an excuse to bail on a story. Neither is not yet having the fine motor skills to form even vaguely legible letters. She is, after all, a professional.
For her first piece, Miss Mussel needs something original; a hook that no one else has. Christmas is the most cliché time of year and she wants to make her mark right out of the blocks.
Most of the day is disappointing. Everyone spends time with their family at Christmas.
Just as she was about to sink into a pit of despair, our intrepid cub hears a commotion in the kitchen. Her sidekick Frere Mussel comes along in case things get dicey.
There is no doubt her shoes mean business — Kidde Kobbler saw to that — and no one objects as Miss Mussel boldy pushes her way to the front of the scrum.
A man identifying himself as Uncle Tim approaches but immediately something seems out of place. Although she is not entirely familiar with all holiday customs, Miss Mussel is reasonably sure turkey is the traditional Christmas meal.
This man clearly has a fish.
Miss Mussel glances quickly at her calendar to make sure she hasn’t mixed up Christmas and Easter. It is definitely the 25th. Excitement bubbles and then overflows. The hook she has been looking for all day finally appeared — NOT EVERYONE EATS TURKEY AT CHRISTMAS.
Immediately she starts scribbling notes. What kind? how long? how heavy? from where?…every detail is carefully recorded in her unique shorthand. Frere Mussel does a thorough inspection and confirms that it is indeed a fish. Corroboration: check.
In order to be thorough, Miss Mussel insists on tasting the fish once it is cooked. She deems it equally satisfactory to a turkey but sneaks away before dessert. There is a story to be filed and she can’t afford to linger. It may be her first day, but the presses won’t wait for another slice of pumpkin pie.