"Waxing somebody's legs can be painful," Carmel Elementary School Principal Chris Mauger said Friday, addressing a cafeteria full of students at Juniper Elementary School. "You know what: I'm not worried about it at all, because we're not going to lose."

If the WWE's Vince McMahon ever became the Secretary of Education, public education would look a lot like this.

The Juniper Jaguars had about as much chance of out-reading Mauger's students as "a giant meteor [has of] coming crashing through the roof" of the cafeteria, he said.

It began with a friendly wager: Mauger bet Juniper Elementary School Principal Stephanie Poindexter that his students could earn more Accelerated Reading points than her students could. If he lost, he'd have his legs waxed at a Juniper assembly in the spring. If she lost, she would get duct-taped to the wall of the Carmel cafeteria for an hour.

"I'll send you guys pictures," Mauger told the assembled Juniper Jaguars, eliciting a chorus of boos. He taunted them by showing off a distinctly unwaxed hairy calf.

The points are based on the difficulty of the book, from half a point for the simplest below reading level books up to 26 points for the thickest of the Harry Potter novels. Students input the books they read into computers at each site.

"I want to encourage you sixth graders to forget about the AR books. Watch TV, play videogames," he grinned. "Because you're just going to lose anyway!"

The Juniper students howled in outrage.

"Like Mr. Mauger said, we are great friends and great buddies, and this is a friendly competition," Poindexter told her students. The two have been friends for 9 years, ever since he served as summer school principal and she as his assistant principal. "That's why he's willing to have his legs silky smooth. ... We'll still be friends, even after we beat him."

But still, a bet is a bet.

At an assembly at Carmel afterward, Poindexter played on the sympathies of the Cougars, pointing out that she had taught 4th and 6th grade there years before.

"Nice people don't tape other people to walls!" she said. However, if the Cougars did the unlikely, and actually beat the Jaguars, "I will get up on that wall for you and go like this."

She posed like an ancient Egyptian painted figure, and screwed up her face a moment, to peals of laughter. A figure has already been taped to the wall of the cafeteria, with a sign reading "Reserved for Mrs. Poindexter" above it.

"Work hard, do all your reading -- because Juniper is going to win anyway!" she crowed.

While the Jaguars had seemed outraged at the idea of their principal being humiliated, the Cougars thought Mauger getting his legs waxed sounded intriguing at first, forcing him to more clearly frame the challenge to them.

"Let me reiterate: It would not happen here," he said. "Only you guys have the right to see me look stupid!"

And then he broke out the biggest bribe of all:

"I'm not going to tape you to the wall," he told Poindexter, "They are!"

And the Cougars began to chant in unison: "Wall! Wall! Wall! Wall! Wall!"

The reading contest between the two schools will conclude in April.

Beau Yarbrough can be reached at 956-7108 or at beau@hesperiastar.com.