Share Button

Professor Bumbly's Instant Suntan

It was raining again. The sun had not shone on State College for more than two weeks now. Professor Bumbly was annoyed. He had come back from his vacation with a nice tan. Now it had faded away.

"I think we'll work on that suntan lotion again," he told his assistant Oscar. "We almost had the right formula last spring. I have an idea." The two of them worked all night. Finally, Professor Bumbly said, "Well, let's see how this batch works. Here, Oscar, try it out on that mouse."

Oscar squirted a medicine dropper full of the brown liquid into the mouth of a little white mouse. In a few minutes, the shaved patch of pink skin on the mouse's back turned brown. The mouse scampered about its cage and nibbled at its food. It looked quite well.

"Now it's your turn, Oscar," Professor Bumbly said.

Oscar looked a little worried. "Are you sure it's safe?"

"There's nothing poisonous in it," the Professor assured him. So Oscar shrugged and gulped down a test tube full of Professor Bumbly's new suntan formula.

In a few minutes he had a beautiful suntan. "It really works!" Oscar shouted.

Just then the bell rang. It was time for the first morning class. Students came into the chemistry lab. "Hey, Oscar, where did you get that beautiful tan?" one of the girls asked.

"Professor Bumbly just invented a new suntan lotion. It's really great!" Oscar explained.

"Why don't we sell the stuff?" a student suggested.

"We can help raise money for the new Student Center." All the students agreed this would be a wonderful idea. So Professor Bumbly wrote out the formula on the blackboard. That morning the class made gallons and gallons of the formula. They poured it into bottles and labeled them "Professor Bumbly's Instant Suntan."

That afternoon, at the entrance to the main building, Professor Bumbly's chemistry students sold bottles of the suntan formula. They demonstrated how well it worked by drinking some themselves.

Oscar was helping. He handed a bottle to a student. The student was so anxious to take the suntan formula that he grabbed the bottle. Oscar did not let go fast enough. As the student pulled, Oscar's arm stretched out like putty. It was more than six feet long now!

Suddenly there was silence in the hall. Everybody stared at Oscar. One of the students who had just drunk some of the suntan formula pulled on her finger. It stretched and stretched. When she let go, it was two feet long.

Now the other students tried pulling, pushing, and pinching. Soon the campus was full of people with long necks and noses, drooping ears, and legs like stilts.

Hundreds of bottles of Professor Bumbly's Instant Suntan had already been sold. Around the town, shopkeepers and housewives and policemen were suddenly finding parts of their bodies stretching.

Oscar rushed up to tell Professor Bumbly about the strange effects of his new invention. But before he could say anything, the professor held up his hand to stop him. He had a test tube to his lips and gulped down the last drops of his suntan formula. "I might as well enjoy a suntan too," he said.

Oscar held out his six-foot arm and told the professor what had happened.

"We'll have to do something about that," said Professor Bumbly. He tried soaking Oscar's arm in water. But nothing happened. He mixed some chemicals together. But when Oscar drank the new formula, his arm was still six feet long.

Just then the telephone rang. It was the president of the college. "Get over to my office right away!" His voice sounded strange.

When Professor Bumbly opened the president's door, he found that the President had a nose as large as a banana. "You'd better find a cure for this, Bumbly," he boomed, "or you're fired!"

On the way back to the chemistry building, Professor Bumbly tripped over the President's dog, which was sleeping on the bottom step. The dog woke up and growled. It snapped at the Professor's leg. It tore his pants, stretching his leg out like a snake.

"Oh, dear," mumbled Professor Bumbly as he dragged his bare, seven-foot leg across the campus yard. Just then the sun came out. As the warm sunshine shone down on him, he suddenly discovered that it was getting easier to walk. His leg was shrinking. Soon it was back to its normal size. But his suntan was gone.

That night Professor Bumbly worked in the lab again. The next day all the students and townspeople who had taken the Instant Suntan formula shivered outside in bathing suits. The sun shrank them back to their normal shapes, and turned them pale again.



©1972, 2013 The Silversteins