Fan Fiction - Written by Doug Fowler - Television Universe

Big Shoes To Fill
Written by: Doug Fowler

In "To Joey With Love," why does Joey have the egg for the experiment at the end? Why didn't Michelle and he make up till then? This explains that first and alludes to what "would have happened" in the actual episode (Michelle just takes the timeout and cops an attitude.) This is likely what really happened, as I think they'd make up that day. But, if Missy is absent that day on TV, the principal would have no time to handle things, she'd be so swamped, as tons of students would also likely be out. As I say with other stories, there are a few episodes where something different does happen in the "real Tanner universe." This is a sequel of sorts to "Principal Stephanie and the Dinosaur." Missy is the PA in RKORadio's Sam Series & he let me use her here.

Melissa "Missy" Saunders grinned broadly as she hugged her mother and got out of the car. Several weeks into the school year, she'd gained quite a bit of experience in her job as Principal's Assistant.

There would only ever be one Stephanie Tanner, though.

She'd heard the comments - "You're just like Steve Young following Joe Montana," her soon-to-be stepfather, Thomas Andrews, had said, referring to the San Francisco 49ers quarterbacks, both first ballot Hall of Famers. He always had good advice and was very encouraging. And, normally, she would have believed it.

But, today? "I think half the school is out with the flu," Missy told her best friend, Katie.

"Look at it this way. That means only half the troublemakers," Katie answered with a smile.

"They always find a way to get here," Missy mourned. Missy was Principal's Assistant at Fraser St. Elementary. Stephanie had begun the position in 4th grade, after she'd helped her younger sister Michelle her first day of Kindergarten - and helped her later to settle down a few times, like when she was tap dancing so much at school. Michelle was generally quite good now, though.

Eventually, the school decided to start experimenting with an Australian style position on a permanent basis, where a very mature fourth of fifth grade girl - usually fifth, though Missy was in fourth - helped with discipline and other problems so the principal could focus on administrative duties.

"I just saw Joey Gladstone - he's the comedian who's helping raise Michelle - along with their Uncle Jesse - since their mom died, isn't he?" Katie told Missy.

Missy explained, as they walked into their own classroom and the bell rang. "He's teaching Michelle's third grade class since the teacher's absent." The other third grade teacher was there, but because of a special project they were working on, they felt it wasn't fair to combine the classes. So, Joey had been pegged as a sub. "Michelle and Stephanie's oldest sister, D.J., had to handle Michelle sometimes when she was younger because their dad's so lax. But, she's usually pretty good now." Missy had heard Joey was not very firm himself most of the time, though.

"Missy, we only have seven students today," her fourth grade teacher told her after taking attendance. "I doubt we'll do anything important. If you want you can just stay down there helping."

"Thanks, I'll think abut..." Missy's eyebrows rose as a boy came up to the teacher. "At least it can't be someone sent to the principal already - it's been five minutes since the bell rang," she told herself, a little puzzled And, it took a minute to get there, so the person haad to have come four minutes after class began! She figured it had to be a playground dispute that broke out just after she entered.

"Who's doing announcements?" was the first question on Missy's lips. Another fifth grade aide handled those, but he hadn't been heard or seen yet. And, this boy not only wasn't that office aide, he was only in third! "Jeff, right?"

"Yeah, I was in the school nurse's office getting my knee washed and a bandage," Jeff said, pointing to where he'd skinned it on the playground. "The principal looked out her door and asked me to get you. Michelle Tanner's kinda mad, she just walked there."

"After four minutes?" He nodded as they walked. "Well, don't put any snakes down girls' backs, this day will be crazy enough as it is."

"I've only ever used spiders," Jeff said defensively. Missy rolled her eyes as she walked Jeff back to the other third grade classroom, then entered the office.

The principal looked regretfully at Missy. "Sorry, it's way too hectic for me to help. And Mr. Gladstone didn't make things any easier; he didn't even send a note about why she was here," she complained, throwing up her hands. "She just says he sent her." Actually, Michelle said he sent her for making a peep - but the principal didn't mention that. Let Missy handle this, she told herself, I have more than enough problems without teachers who don't know how to make children move their desks outside for five minutes.

"Okay, thanks, Ma'am," Missy said with a sigh before entering the small anteroom she used as an office. Michelle was in the timeout chair but not facing the wall or with her head down or anything. "What are you doing here; nobody's ever been sent after only four minutes. Even Calvin's record is fifteen minutes in the funnies, and he's so hyperactive he makes our worst look like an angel. I figured if anything it was some playground dispute."

Michelle stunned Missy by saying, "Joey's just a big dummy!".

Missy sat in her chair and looked Michelle straight in the eye. "Michelle, we can't solve this problem if I don't know what it is. But more importantly, that is no way to talk about a teacher!" She lectured for a moment on how important it was to respect others. "I'm sorry, but he deserves it. He's not telling any jokes."

"This is a school, not a comedy club," Missy said, holding out her hands. "Now, please, tell me exactly what happened." As Michelle explained, Missy groaned inwardly, knowing it was something the teacher could easily have handled by making her sit outside for a couple minutes, or even by talking to her. Making her write sentences would also have worked well. Sending her to the principal right away made no sense. "He should have been acting funny. That's his job," Michelle concluded.

"So, am I to assume he's never put you in timeout - not even when you were little?"

Michelle shook her head. "That was always D.J. before my dad started. And, sometimes after that."

"So, is this about him punishing you? Or, is it about him not being funny?"

"It's him not being funny, I guess. I mean, my friends and I were all really looking forward to a day of laughs. Then we wouldn't have to learn anything."

"But, isn't learning fun, too?" Michelle sighed. It was, but not like what she wanted. "So, is this about you, or more about what your friends wanted?"

She fidgeted a little, and finally muttered, "I guess both. I mean, I didn't like being sent here in front of my friends." She didn't admit it, but she would have been upset even if he'd just talked to her at his desk and given her sentences to write or made her sit outside. But, Missy assumed that after Michelle's next comments. "My other teachers make learning fun. He wasn't even gonna try to have fun!" she complained.

Missy asked if he'd ever taught - he hadn't. "So, he's a little new to it - give him time."

"If he can't teach right then he shouldn't be here!"

Missy racked her brain, trying to remember that name her mom's fiance had told her. Wasn't it Joe something, too?

She ad libbed as she thought. "Look, everyone has to start somewhere. There are lots of teachers who are just winging it today..." Her eyes brightened. "Joe Nuxhall, that's it!"

"Can we get him to teach?" Michelle asked expectantly, her eyes brightening.

Missy chuckled a little. "No, Michelle, Joe Nuxhall was a big league pitcher for Cincinnati at age fifteen. He pitched two thirds of an inning, and gave up a few runs, before being sent back to the minors."

"Fifteen? My dad says nobody could play in the majors at that age!" Danny Tanner had been a sportscaster once.

"Not normally. But, this was during World War Two. My mom's fiance told me last night; Nuxhall was brought up, got only a couple outs, then didn't make it back for 7 or 8 years. Now, I think we both agree, giving up four or five runs in less than an inning is pretty bad, even if you don't follow baseball like he does." Michelle agreed.

"But, what if he'd never pitched again? Wouldn't he still have been a major leaguer?"

Missy was proud of herself as Michelle clearly started to see the light. She'd practiced this very discussion the night before, expecting that at some point, she'd need to use it. She was so glad to know someone who could help like that.

"You're right. He was still a big leaguer," Michelle finally confessed.

"Michelle, Mr. Gladstone is probably closer to Nuxhall than you want. But, you still have to respect him, and do everything he says, because he's a teacher, just like Joe Nuxhall was a big leaguer."

Missy thought perhaps her peer mediation training would be best here - it was very helpful in other cities where the program had begun. Once she'd been selected to replace the outgoing fifth grader last spring, she'd taken some course to learn how to help others settle disputes by aiding them in learning to talk to each other.

However, there was a discipline problem, too, albeit a small one. "Normally, he should have made you sit outside or write sentences before even thinking of sending you here; just like Nuxhall messed up with the pitches he threw back in 1944. But, your attitude is making it seem necessary for me to put you in the corner anyway. However, you could write a note to Mr. Gladstone instead, telling him you're sorry. It doesn't have to be long. Just a few sentences promising to be nicer."

Michelle was torn. She really didn't want to write anything nice to him - but Missy had a very good point. If Missy had been absent that day, the principal would have just told her to sit there for a few minutes and then told her to go back - but then, Michelle and Joey might not have made up till the next day. Danny would have sent her to her room to think about it for a few minutes, then let her come down, and she would have faked being nice, but still been quite upset.

Now, she had a chance to make up with him. "What if he doesn't do anything fun, though?" she asked.

"Well, you say the whole class was in an uproar. Do you think he should?"

"Well...maybe not for a little while," she admitted. She asked for a pen and paper. "But, I'm signing it 'To Joey, With Love.'"

"You can sign it 'From the halls of Montezuma, to the shores of Tripoli,' just write it," she said, a little tired as she looked outside and saw a couple first graders who were arguing. It was going to be one of those days.

Once Michelle was done, and Missy done with the other students, she appraised the letter. "Very good, Michelle. Let's take it back together and talk with Mr. Gladstone."

Joey liked the letter, too. After Missy suggested that they step outside and talk, she instantly tried to get Michelle and Joey communicating. First, she got Joey to understand how Michelle had felt.

"Well, I'm sorry, Michelle, but don't you think it would have felt worse if I'd made you sit out in the hall or write sentences myself?"

"Do I have to answer that?" she asked Missy.

"I'll take that as a 'yes.'" Joey whispered; he hadn't liked sending her, but he knew that was, oddly, the least problematic option since he'd never punished her himself. He vividly remembered the problem when he'd grounded D.J. the first time six years earlier. "You know what? You might not believe this, but I actually came prepared for some fun stuff - if everyone was good."

"Cool, like what?"

He held a finger to his lips and spoke lowly. "If I told you, would you all rush up to see it and not try to learn, or would you wait and be patient while we learned some stuff that's maybe not as enjoyable?" Michelle wasn't sure. "Let's put it this way - the class is pretty mad at me right now. I can't do anything fun at all till tomorrow unless you support me. Now, we can maybe get some fun stuff done after lunch, if everyone's good till then."

"Like what, Joey..I mean, Mr. Gladstone?"

Joey decided to simply tell Missy. He whispered in her ear, "I brought an egg and a jar, they're in the desk. One of the things I planned to do was show them how to make the egg drop into the jar."

"Oooh, they'll love that," Missy said with a broad grin, remember seeing that herself once. To Michelle, she advised, "You guys better be good. I want to hear all about the egg."

"And, that's not the only one. But, we have to mix serious learning in here, too. There's a time for each, and even the fun stuff isn't going to be rolling on the floor laughing kind of fun. It's 'Teacher, that was so cool!' fun. Now, if you're ready to let me teach, we can announce to the class how we're going to do things, and we can have some serious and some 'That was so cool' stuff. Is it a deal?"

"It's a deal," Michelle promised as they shook hands.

Missy smiled proudly, then announced, "Well, my work here is done." They chuckled as she asked, "Do I sound like Stephanie?" Stephanie had said that after helping Michelle make friends that first day. She hoped she did, at least somewhat - Stephanie was almost a legend to some, and had done a super job in helping solve some major problems, such as the kids who went wild in a museum, and the time Stephanie had helped a boy named Charles get out of an abusive home, when Charles hadn't felt comfortable confiding in anyone since he'd moved into the district.

Now, it was Missy's turn. She faced a challenge even Stephanie never did - it seemed like everyone was out, including her assistants. The principal was swamped with figuring out who was sick, how to organize music, art, and other classes not taught by regular teachers, and so on.

"You act just like she did - I think you're gonna be a great one."

She beamed at Joey's comment. "Thanks! We still haven't had morning announcements, I guess I'm going to have to do those..." Missy noticed a teacher bringing a student to the office out of the corner of her eye. "Well, sometime."

The class had just come in from lunch and recess to watch Joey make an egg get pulled down into a jar when it normally would have been too big. After the expected "oooh"s and "aaaah"s, Joey said "Okay, back to your seats, let's learn why that was possible."

Michelle stayed at his desk, and whispered, "I'm sorry I was so mad at you. I should have known you'd have something good."

"Hey, I understand. Even if you didn't start acting good today, I still would have brought it tomorrow, just in case. And, you know you wouldn't have gotten in really big trouble. In fact, by not even sending a note, I was assuring you'd only get timeout or, in this case, a nice note you had to write."

"I guess you're right," she admitted. "I was just too mad at you to think about that. Of course, I could have wandered the halls, and not even gone - but I figured D.J. would find out," Michelle said warily. "Dad says he's really protective, so if things got bad enough the principal wouldn't handle it - he's told them to let D.J. or Stephanie." She wanted nothing to do with that prospect - she knew they'd be much madder.

Michelle then asked, "Are you gonna tell Dad what happened?"

"Well...tell you what. You've been really good since then. So, you can tell him, and we can show him the note and say it's all settled, or you don't have to. Because, I can tell your attitude's changed. I guess Steph's had a pretty good influence on you, too," Joey concluded. "I'm sure Missy will be just as good"

At that moment, her voice came over the PA. Wearily, she said, "We're sorry this slipped our minds. It's 12:15 in the afternoon, and here are your morning announcements...."

The class chuckled. Once Missy was done, Joey said, "Well, at least she managed to get those in. I wouldn't be surprised if she had to help teach a class or two."

"I'm glad she didn't take this one. You're a pretty good teacher after all," Michelle complimented him.