The Importance of Being Ernie

A student accidentally submits their Wattpad fanfiction as their English final.

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Cover Image
By Ori Mermelstein

It’s 2:39 a.m. Your final English assignment is due later today. Unfortunately, you only started it about four and a half hours ago. As you write your conclusion, the words on your computer screen begin to blur together, and it takes every fiber in your body to keep your eyes open. Just a few more sentences and then I can sleep, you tell yourself as you check the SparkNotes on The Importance of Being Ernest for the 27th time. You continue stringing together words until you’ve finally formed a somewhat comprehensible English sentence. At last! The essay is complete! You contemplate waiting until the morning to proofread it before submitting but decide that you don’t want your fully-conscious self to have to look at the atrocity you’ve just written, so instead, you open Google Classroom, attach the file, and click “Turn in” before immediately falling asleep over your keyboard.

The following day during lunch, after finding a cozy bathroom stall to eat your Lunchables in, you eagerly open your laptop to continue your 19-chapter Wattpad fanfiction, The Importance of Being Ernie, a friends-to-lovers story about Bert and Ernie from Sesame Street. After spending the past two and a half years working on it, you’ve finally reached the last chapter, in which Ernie dumps his rubber ducky to marry his one true love, Bert. You feverishly type away as a tear trickles down your cheek: “Ernie helped Bert put on his paperclip engagement ring before sweeping him off his feet and kissing him. The two puppets then proceeded to [REDACTED].”

All of a sudden, your spidey senses begin to tingle and you get the feeling that something isn’t right, so you go back to Google Classroom and open your final English assignment. However, instead of your analytical essay on The Importance of Being Ernest, attached to the assignment is a copy of your steamy fanfiction.

You scream. This was it. These were your final moments on earth.

How could you make such a foolish mistake? Now your English teacher will never speak to you again! You frantically try to unsubmit the assignment, but your computer crashes (too much storage was used on Bert and Ernie fanart). Before you can restart the device, the bell rings, signaling the start of English class.

It’s impossible to focus for the entirety of class. Every time you look away, you can sense your teacher’s judgmental eyes boring into you. You pray that he hasn’t read your paper yet, but you know that can’t be true—the man once entered your quiz grade onto Jupiter less than 30 seconds after you took it. After what feels like centuries, the bell rings, and you rush to leave the classroom in order to unsubmit your assignment. However, an instant before you reach the doorway, the teacher calls your name, requesting to speak with you privately. Your heart stops. Your knees buckle. The air deflates from your lungs. Miraculously, you don’t drop dead. You slowly walk to the teacher’s desk. Please, God, I’ll never open Wattpad again as long as I live, just don’t let me fail English, you pray.

“Yes, sir?” you finally mumble, not daring to look him in the eye.

He sighs. “I just wanted to let you know that I look at your final paper and, well, it’s quite unlike anything I’ve ever received in all my years of teaching. I was especially taken aback by your rendition of the ‘Rubber Duckie’ song…”

“Look, sir, I can explain—”

“I absolutely loved it! What an insightful commentary on Oscar Wilde’s life! Why, I don’t think I’ve ever read anything so thought-provoking. I’m telling you, son, if you keep writing, you are going to go places in the future.”

You quickly thank the teacher and leave the room, utterly speechless as you contemplate your teacher’s words. Who knew he was into fanfiction? Under any other circumstances, you would probably judge him, but now you can only be grateful that you haven’t been expelled. Eventually, you find a bench, sit down, and open your laptop. You log back on to Wattpad and begin a new story, with a newfound motivation: Spongebob and Squidward: A Tale of Enemies to Lovers.