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February 19, 2024

Dinner with Henry 7: The Celebration

By Bruce Memblatt

Glasses clinked, silverware clanked, in the background cocktail music tinkled on a piano. A bottle of champagne sat on a checkered cloth table.

"Oh, what a nice celebration and I am not used to eating out. It is always I who does the cooking. More wine, Shakespeare?" Andre said folding a napkin over his gray flannelled lap.

"A toast to Shakespeare, Happy birthday!" Henry said, holding his glass high.

"I like toast," Diego whispered as she held a glass to her lips.

"Oh gee, I don't know what to say." Shakespeare half-smiled, just giving a nod, not giving too much because if there was anything that made Shakespeare feel more dolorous than displays of affection he could not name it.

"Oh my, it is an occasion! Shakespeare speechless!

Shakespeare is quiet! Oh such bliss!
This must be my day,
I must shout hooray,
And blow you a kiss.

"Aw, put a lid on it," Shakespeare said, pointing his fork at Andre.

"I don't have a lid you silly kid!

"See how he goads the little man," Diego said, staring at the dish in her hand.

"Shhh, Diego don't get in the middle of it," Henry whispered.

"I'm so glad we all came here to quietly celebrate my birthday." Shakespeare snapped.

"Goad? Goad? When do I goad? He is always with the wise cracks! All day, all night, all the time. And Andre makes one leetle remark, one leetle song, and suddenly he is a goader. I am not a goader!"

"You're not much of a singer either," Shakespeare chortled.

A tall waiter with a short mustache approached the table and said "Is everything okay?" His eyebrows rose, "I'm about to serve the meal. Who ordered the veal Marsala?" He said holding a dish of veal Marsala.

"I did, I did!"Andre said pointing at himself excitedly.

The waiter placed the plate in front of Andre.

"Oooh this looks good, but you know the mushrooms look a little limp, don't you think? Not that I would tell another chef what to do. But I am a chef and I always make sure the mushrooms are firm, you know if you cook them too long they lose their zing."

"Sir," the waiter said, "I assure you these mushrooms are perfect. Have a bite."

"Oh, of course, I will have a taste!" Andre put his fork into a mushroom and raised it to his mouth and said "Hmmmmm?" scrunching his nose, and then he paused and said "Okay," and sighed looking down at the plate.

"Sir," the waiter said, his lips quivering,"if you don't like these mushrooms I can return them to the kitchen and bring you back some firm zingy mushrooms."

"No," Andre said sheepishly, "it's fine." And then the waiter grabbed Andre's plate and took it back to the kitchen.

"Well another fine birthday surprise thank you, Mr. Trump."

"Oh, Shakespeare, do not worry -- you work in a kitchen, you know how it is! He knows what to do. This man is a seasoned professional, a waiter at a fine establishment. This is nothing!"

"I am going out for a cigarette," Diego breathed and then she reached for her small black patent leather pocketbook sitting next to her plate on the table.

"I'll come with you," Henry said and he stood and pulled out Diego's chair.

"Where is the door?" Diego said as they walked away.

"See Shakespeare," Andre whispered loudly, "I think we're playing this right -- we shouldn't make too much of a fuss over the baby. I am sure they don't want a fuss! You know it is not a baby they've planned. This is a child of love. Amour. It is a delicate situation don't you think? And still they have a nice celebration, a nice meal here.

Oh look at this fine wine! Isn't it sublime!
And look at the cheese. It's the bee's knees!

"The bee's knees?" Andre, I don't know. They look kind of miserable." Shakespeare said, adjusting his pillow.

"Of course they look miserable, they are getting married!" Andre said with a smile.

The waiter returned with Andre's plate. As he was placing it down on the table he looked at Shakespeare quizzically and said, "Sir, would you like another pillow, or a phone book?" Without taking a breath he continued, "Here are your zingy mushrooms." He set the plate in front of Andre. And then without missing a beat, "Who ordered the hamburger?"

"That must be Diego's," Shakespeare sighed.

"And who ordered the Greek salad with extra lettuce and a side of sherbet?"

"That must be Henry's. Right over there," Andre said pointing to Henry's seat.

"That would leave the shrimp scampi for you, sir," the waiter said placing the plate of shrimp scampi in front of Shakespeare.

"Oh do you have any salt? I think this just needs a dab of salt!" Andre said, holding his fork in the air.

"Oh, sir for you we have salt, pepper, chicory, chives, coriander, garlic, thyme, tarragon, basil, saffron, cilantro, capers and paprika."

"Oh, you are a funny man, isn't he funny, Shakespeare...?"

In the meanwhile, outside, in the front of the restaurant ...

"Diego, I don't think they're very happy about us, or the baby. I can hardly blame them. Just what they need, more confusion in the kitchen, and well, Andre, he's usually so full of support, but they haven't even mentioned the baby once over dinner." Henry said leaning on a lamppost, his wing hanging down towards the ground.

"Do you think Andre is gaining weight?" Diego said taking a drag from her cigarette.

"Umm, I hadn't thought about it but now that you mention it ..." Henry said, gazing in the air.

"Don't worry, Henry the baby will come. You know we have to start planning the wedding? Do you like white?"

"For your dress?

"No for the walls."

And in the meanwhile back in Her kitchen Simpson turned on the light and swiftly scurried to Shakespeare's locker and removed a small black book, and rushed out of the kitchen. When he was halfway down the hall to his office he remembered he left the light on in the kitchen and again scurried swiftly back to the kitchen and turned the light off.

And in the meanwhile back at the table:

"So, Henry anything new?" Andre said taking a sip of wine.

"Um, not that I can't think of, can you think of anything Diego?" Henry said hoping a fire alarm, or something would go off.

"No not a thing." Diego said hoping a fire alarm, or something would go off.

"What about you, Shakespeare?" Andre said crossing his eyes.

"Um ... yup. Did you remember to turn the light off in the kitchen?"

"Oh, gee, I don't remember! I wonder what I did. Did I leave them on, or turn them off? A little surprise when we get home. Oh the anticipation is spellbinding. How is your shrimp, Shakespeare?"

"Fine, but maybe it could use a little salt." Shakespeare cracked.

"Oh you're so funny, Shakespeare. How is your hamburger, Diego?"

"It's toasty like a baby."

"Huh?" Shakespeare sighed.

"Henry you are so quiet tonight, how is your salad? Would you like some mushrooms?"

"Oh I can't take it anymore -- what is going on, Andre?" Henry said, his eyes darting like his mother's.

"What do you mean, Henry? We are having a nice celebration for Shakespeare's birthday at this fine restaurant. Isn't it nice having someone else preparing the meal for a change? And look at the decor. Such beautiful fixtures! Is that a tiffany lamp next to you?' It's a lovely place, just lovely! We should come here more often. When is your birthday, Henry? What about you, Diego?"

"Where is the ketchup?" Diego said staring at the Tiffany lamp.

"My birthday is in June, Andre," Henry grumbled, playing with a piece of lettuce with his fork.

"Mr. Smarty Pants thinks you don't want us to talk about the baby because it would be indelicate." Shakespeare said holding his finger over his nose.

"Mr. Smarty Pants?" Andre said, getting excited, "listen, you little toad. You know nothing about these matters -- you are a plebian!

"A what? You off-key elephant!"

"Elephant? Elephant! This is the best you can do?"

"Well you have been gaining a little weight," Diego breathed.

"And another thing; thank you for letting the cat out of the bag, Shakespeare. You know we are having this nice meal. We are eating, drinking, talking about birthdays. And you have to open your mouth like a little worm and ruin your birthday dinner! I have tried to make this a pleasant evening: I picked a nice restaurant; I got all dressed in grey flannel. Such humiliation I have to go through in a public place, because you don't appreciate the finer things. Such woe, such grief ..."

"Um what made you think we didn't want to talk about the baby? Why wouldn't we want to talk about the culmination of our love?" Henry's wing fluttered.

"Isn't there ketchup anywhere?" Diego said, looking at the ceiling.

Andre turned beet red, and said "Well, that is a different matter, Henry." And he hung his head down toward the table.

"I told you so, Chubblehchunks!" Shakespeare snipped.

"Chubblechunks? I told you not to repeat that word Chubblechunks! But this is my entire fault, you are right Shakespeare. I am a buffoon, a clown. It was I who was indelicate! Why shouldn't Henry and Diego want to talk about their child? What was I thinking! And they were probably thinking we didn't care about the child. That we were heartless! Imagine! Oh, look at the mess I have created. I have ruined Shakespeare's birthday and Henry and Diego's evening. I shouldn't be allowed out of the kitchen. I am so sorry, Henry! Will you forgive me? I will sing a lament.

Oh woe ,oh woe, what have I done?
I've upset everyone.
Now the earth is bleak,
And the sky is dark,
And I am lament full, so lament full, and full of lament.

"You forgot how to rhyme too." Shakespeare smirked.

"This is a lament. Laments don't have to rhyme. The sorrow is so powerful the rhymes fade away into prose. And this is how I feel, like ..."

The waiter approached.

"A very vocal table we have here," he said, his eyes circling, "the woman in the next table wants to know if you take requests. Do you know Come Rugiada al Cespite?"

"Not offhand," Andre said quietly, lowering his head to the table.

"Well here is the check, I hope you all enjoyed your meal, we certainly found you people very entertaining."

"Hey, is that some kind of crack?" Shakespeare barked.

"Oh now the little one is fighting with the waiter." Diego grinned.

"Shakespeare, please let's just go," Andre said, putting his hand into this back pocket ... and then he quickly whispered to Shakespeare. "Hey Shakespeare, have you seen my wallet?"

"Well this is another fine mess you've gotten me into, Andre." Shakespeare snapped.

"I must have left my wallet at home. It is okay, Shakespeare, we're used to doing kitchen work, could you pass me another dish."

"So how many dishes do you think we'll have to wash till we've paid the bill?" Henry sighed.

"Oh I just know I am paying for something I did in some other life. When did I turn into such a feebe! Yes a feebe!I am a feebe! When did my luck take such a nose dive? But as Aldous Huxley said, 'My fate cannot be mastered; It can only be collaborated with and thereby, to some extent directed. Nor am I the captain of my soul; I am only it's nosiest passenger' and Henry and Diego, the two of you have made a joyful noise, congratulations on the baby!" Andre smiled.

"So where is Simpson?" Diego sighed.

"Honey, wrong kitchen," Henry grinned.

Article © Bruce Memblatt. All rights reserved.
Published on 2010-05-31
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