Chapter 3: "Just Dance"
"And now it is time for the first ever penguin dance-off. This is trule history in the making. I am Marlene, your host today and with our contestants, Kowalski, Rico, and Private who are having a stand-off to see who gets to be Skipper's replacement!" Marlene announced and leaped over to the left to the long judging table. "And now to introduce our three judges. Mort, Maurice, and King Julien!"
From behind the rock the penguins couldn't see what was going on, but they could hear every word of it. They waited eagerly for Marlene to call them out. Kowalski knew he would win this competition. His opponents knew nothing of the ancient human art of dancing. They wouldn't stand a chance!
Rico was thinking about his victory also until he saw a butterfly flutter past and tried to chase it.
Private on the other hand was thinking of how well he would look behind Skipper's desk. He also wondered what Kowalski and Rico were doing for their dances. All of them had had five minutes to rehearse their routines in secret so neither of them knew what their opponents would be doing on stage.
"I am going to be called up first because I am the best," Kowalski said. "I calculated it."
"I don't think the pythagoroen theorum is a dance," Private retorted. "Or explosions. You two don't stand a chance."
"Oh yeah? What are you doing? The roly-poly?"
"Grrrrrr," Rico growled.
Private looked down at his feet, which he could barely see. "Stop making fun of my weight. It is hurtful. At least I don' ttuck a calculator to bed each night."
"Our first contestant is Private!" Marlene called out and Private had an excuse to leave before Kowalski could say another stingingly nerdy comment. He stepped out to an adoring crowd, clapping their appendages eagerly.
"Thank you all. You are too kind. I will do a dance I made myself. Maurice, radio please." Private squared up in the center of the ring, preparing to blow the crowd away with his incredible dancing skill. Whatever Kowalski said about his weight, he would sill win even though apparently the odds were 52: 1 according to the matermind genius.
A funky 70's dance mix blasted out on the radio and Private began. Almost instantly the crowd fell silent.
From behind the rock, Kowalski and Rico watched eagerly, and their hopes brightened when they saw Private's funky disco.
"Bleh," Rico gagged and coughed up a bucket of popcorn, gulping it back down as he watched Private dance.
"You are right. That is bleh. Private is failing! Isn't it delightful?" Kowalski said cheerfully. "He clearly doesn't understand that the 70's version of that song is way out of date and those iregular body shakes and foot movements are not compatible with the musical rhythms presented in the song." He sneaked a handful of Rico's popcorn and enjoyed every moment of it.
The song ended and Private ended the dance, smiling to the crowd and raised a flipper to encourage the uproar that never came. He waited in the silence, feelig very awkward.
"All right. That was a wonderful performance by Private. Now we will see what our three judges have to say about this excrutionating routine." Marlene stepped off stage and all eyes turned on the first judge, Maurice.
"Well, to tell you the truth it lacked the basic structures of a good performance. You looked like you were trying to play Spider Stomp," Maurice explained, reading word for word off the comment paper.
The tiny mouse lemur giggled and clapped his paws approvingly. "Yay! Yay! Heeheehee!"
"There you have it. Julien?"
The lemur king leaned over the rock to emphasize the moment. "You call that dancing? My royal booty can shake much more than that, and your silly penguins feet are so fat and clumsy. And another thing, the dance was burn-your-eyes-out awful. My eyes are still stinking of you," Julien said.
Private walked off stage, moping back to where Rico and Kowalski were waiting.
Kowalski cocked his head, faking the symphony he couldn't feel and Rico quickly hid the popcorn behind his back before Private could see it. "So sorry the judges didn't like your dance. Don't feel bad. When I am leader I will only make you do 40 push ups each morning."
"Our next contestant is Kowalski!"
"Allow me to show you two how many years studying human culture pays off," Kowalski told them before approaching the center stage. Almost instantly "Boom Boom Pow" by the Black-Eyed Peas started jamming on the radio and Kowalski began to do what he was never born to do: rap. Kowalski started doing the worm and rapping about math and the Yiddish language, and even did some funky sliding.
"Oh no. Kowalski got good!" Private wailed and sheilded his eyes from Kowalski's awesomeness.
The dance ended, and once again the judges presented their opinions.
"That was snappin'!" Maurice informed Kowalski enthusiastically.
Mort nodded earnestly with agreement.
"By the power of my kingliness I decree that it was totally awesome in all levels of awesomeness. Peace out!" King Julien announced and threw Mort off the table.
Oh no. They liked it.I still have a chance though. Rico can't even talk. Maybe he can't dance either, Private thought, trying to believe that it wasn't all over.
"That was one thrilling dance, Kowalski. Now our last contestant competing here today is Rico." Marlene clapped her paws together and the crowd did the same. The name of his dance will remain shrouded in silent mystery so we will just let the dancing do the talking."
Rico pulled out his doll and began a slow dance, spinning around and around with the lifeless doll and the crowd fell silent, lost in the moment.
"Oh no. How are we supposed to compete with that?" Private moaned, watching the crowd watch, captivated. "We're finished."
"You are at least," Kowalski added.
"Okay, my dance stunk. Insulting me isn't making Rico any less great." Private gasped when Rico pulled off a sneak attack and seemed to have pulled a rose out of mid-air. "We're doomed."
"And now for our final results. Judges, whose dance is the best?" Marlene asked.
This time Kowalski, Rico, and Private waited on stage, awaiting for the lemurs to announce the results to their dance competition. Whoever won was obviously the right choice to be leader of the team.
"The winner is...Kowalski!"
"NOOOOOOO!" Rico and Private wailed together to the sky spirits.
"All right, team. I guess we all know who the leader is."
The three penguins were back at the base now, and Kowalski stood up on the top bunk, feeling very superior indeed.
They were about to go under the grueling 40 push-up rule under Kowalski's reign when Private thought of an idea that just might save his skin.
"Maybe dancing isn't the way to determine a true leader," Private said.
"Too late for that now, Private. My research is never wrong. Dancing is how you pick a leader," Kowalski answered, beaming.
"Well, do you ever see Skipper dancing on duty? No, so that probably means that isn't how Skipper became Captain. Dancing isn't required on duty, that's why," Private continued.
Kowalski scribbled something dow on his notebook before looking up at Private again. "Perhaps you do have a point, but if not dancing, then what? Don't make me set you up with sit-ups, soldier."
They thought about this and even Kowalski had to admit that a dance-off could have been the wrong way to do this. After all, the human race did some pretty weird things like work for a living and putting their elderly in retirement homes. So the three began to think of a new plan. Clearly being Skipper's replacement meant more than just running fast and having dancing skill. They would just have to figure out what that was.