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July 15, 2024

Dinner With Henry 14

By Bruce Memblatt

The kitchen looked different that day.

"Ouch!" Andre cried as he knocked into the counter. "What is the counter doing here? The counter is supposed to be in back of the kitchen. Where is my stove?"

He looked around the kitchen. "My God! The stove is in the back! How did the stove get in the back of the kitchen?" Andre continued, scratching his head. "Am I having a flashback? It looks like someone turned the kitchen around. Oh hello, Sincere. What are you doing in the front of the kitchen? Aren't you usually in the back?"

Sincere lifted her can. "The front is the back the back is the front."

"What is this, riddles now? Where am I? I suppose a talking Cheshire cat is going to appear next? Where is the looking glass? Actually, that is how the kitchen seems. Like everything is reversed, like one is looking at through a mirror! This is so strange and suspicious," Andre said slowly, while his eyes bulged and his lips quivered.

At just that moment Simpson came through the door. When he saw Andre he picked up his pace. Catching his breath, he said. "I'm so sorry, Andre, I tried to get here before you this morning to explain."

"Explain what? I don't see anything unusual. It's not like the kitchen is turned upside down!" Andre said holding his hat in the air.

"Yesterday, when I closed the kitchen down ..."

"Oh please, do not remind me about Macy's!"

"Ahem, anyway, a few changes have been made. I had the kitchen remodeled. Isn't it lovely now? All new and ..."

"Wait just a second, Simpson, so that was that, how you say, a ruse -- a RUSE." His lips quivered again. "Henry's mother didn't have a tummy ache. You were up to something devious and nefarious."

"Andre, you seem to be forgetting who the boss is and who the employee is." Simpson said tapping his shoes.

"Oh, I am so sorry, Mr. Simpson, you are right, you are the boss! I am just the chef. A mere worker -- like you big shots say, human capital. How nice the kitchen looks, so new and shiny! I am sure we will all get used to everything being backwards in no time at all. Oh, and what is that contraption I see over there?"

"Ah, yes, Andre, that reminds me, I threw out your clunky old blender and got you a brand new processor. It does everything. It chops it grates it cubes it purees it slices it dices it shreds it pits it whips it pares."

"It pares? Well, isn't that something," his eyebrows rose," I am so happy to see you take such an interest in the kitchen appliances! I am surprised. I didn't think you cared about such things. I'm sure the new processor will bring me hours of untold joy and make life so much easier. I can't wait to use it. And look, I see there are instructions sitting next to the box. Oh what fun! I love to learn new things. There is nothing like learning, is there? Like Oscar Wilde once said, "Everybody who is incapable of learning has taken to teaching". Ha! I joke around like I like to do now and then, as you may have noticed, but I love that quote. So you have thrown out my ratty old blender?" Andre said, gritting his teeth.

"Yes, I've disposed of your old blender ..."

"Just a second, Simpson I've just thought of something, what about Shakespeare? How will he find his way around the kitchen with everything turned around! Oh my goodness!"

"Don't worry," Simpson said and quickly turned around and walked out of the kitchen.

Andre threw his hands in the air. "He is gone. Thank God! Oh, my poor blender. I'll have to find it. I love my poor old blender, I have had it forever. I love its little top, its little whistle, its little wheels. It knows exactly how I like my food blended. It is my friend.

"It is my friend it used to glisten.
Now it is dead and buried somewhere so far away.
Where is my friend? My blending friend?"

"It probably ran away when it heard you singing," Shakespeare said right before, "Oh shit!" as he tripped.

"What's the matter, Shakespeare is something out of place?" Andre giggled.

"What's so funny, Chubblechunks?" Shakespeare said, pulling himself from the floor.

"Nothing is funny. Nothing at all is funny! Simpson rearranged the kitchen. Oh, forgive me -- remodeled it," he said raising his eyes, "now everything is backwards! The counter is here, the stove is in the back! Can you imagine? Oh, it is just impossible!"

"What did he do, watch Memento, or something?" Shakespeare snapped.

"Shakespeare, it is crazy. Oh, and Henry's mother wasn't sick yesterday -- it was a ruse to get us out of the kitchen!" Andre said, his eyebrows quivering.

"Hmmm ... very interesting ... well, let me see, if everything is backwards then all I have to do is do everything I did before forward? Or is that backwards? Sideways?"

"Forwards, backwards, who knows! I' m so confused. I will help you!"

"Great, I'll be inside out by the time you're through." Shakespeare said, leaning against the counter.

"Or is that outside in? But Shakespeare, he also threw out my blender, my favorite blender, and he bought that monstrosity sitting there. Some fancy processor that chops and flops, or whatever. Santa Maria. Now I have to read directions. Why do these tragedies always happen to me!"

"Um you're doing it again."

"What what am I doing?"

"Projecting yourself as the only victim of every problem that arises here."

"When did you become such a fancy-schmancy thinker, Shakespeare? I know things happen to other people too. I'm aware of that, Shakespeare but they seem to happen to me mostly."

"Ugh." Shakespeare said as he slowly searched for his locker.

"What are you looking for?"

"My locker."

"God, why did Simpson do this? What is wrong with him?" Andre said as he held the new processor in his hand, turning it from side to side, inside out and upside down, inspecting it closely. "Ah, so where does the food go in? WHERE DOES THE FOOD GO IN?"

"You just lift the little lid on the top," Diego breathed.

"Oh my goodness, I didn't see you, Diego! Have you noticed the kitchen is backwards?"

"What are you talking about?" Diego sighed as Henry walked over. "Never mind, Henry. Henry, the kitchen is ..."

"I can see it's backwards, but everything looks so new and ..." Henry said, his wing shooting back and forth.

"Don't say it ..."


"He said it." Diego murmured.

"Oh, how those words sting. I hate new and shiny I like old and comfortable that's me old and comfortable -- like a shoe. Oh dear, what is that? What kind of freezer is that, Henry? It's so thin, how we will fit any food in there?"

"That's not a freezer, Andre, that's a fancy new broom closet." Henry said, "I saw one at Macy's yesterday."

"Oy, Macy's again! So then where is the freezer! We need a freezer for the food!"

"The back wall, they've recessed it into the back wall." Diego said, staring at the back wall.

"It is funny -- she never could find anything before, but now she knows where everything is!"Andre said and then he slapped his head. "Henry was this your mother's idea or Simpsons?" His eyebrows quivered yet again.

"Um, I haven't the foggiest."

"I'll bet it was Diego's" Shakespeare smirked.

"Henry, will you help me find my blender!"Andre said with his hands clasped like they were in prayer.

"Andre, it must have gone out with the trash."

"But they don't pick up the trash until today. Please come outside with me and help me look, Henry. I will be so upset if I can't find it. I hate that food processor. I don't even like the name processor -- phooey! It sounds so mechanical! 'Blender' sounds so much nicer, doesn't it? "

"You better go with him; he's going wear you down till you do, anyway." Shakespeare said, reaching for the sugar.

"Henry, go with him." Diego hushed.

"Okay, honey." Henry smiled.

"I have him trained nicely, don't I?" Diego said, staring at the door as Andre and Henry walked through the doorway.

Andre and Henry walked down the steps in front of the warehouse. The sun was shining and there was a garbage truck just one block away. Before them, a row of trashcans with assorted bottles and scattered debris overflowing from their lids sat on the curb. Andre nudged Henry as they were coming down the stairs. "Henry, hurry, the garbage truck is right around the corner!"

They ran to the edge of the curb.

"Andre we'll never be able to go through this stuff in time."

"Don't worry, Henry I will stall them." Andre slowly said, as his eyebrows budged, his eyebrows quivered.

They began sorting through the cans.

"Oh look, Henry this is my old rolling pin! He threw that out too, the monster!"

"It's just a rolling pin, Andre." Henry said lifting the lid off a pail.

"It's not just a rolling pin, there is a history in this rolling pin. I made my first crepe with this very rolling pin. It is like an old friend.

"It is my friend, it is my rolling pin.
See how it sparkles when you hold it to the light.
My rolling pin ..."

Meanwhile, back in the kitchen. Shakespeare was cleaning the sink out. He had just located the detergent with Diego's help when Simpson walked in.

"What is it Simpson?" Diego sighed.

He walked past her and straight over to Shakespeare by the sink.

"Ahem." He said.

"Ahem." Shakespeare said.

"Shakespeare, when we were remodeling the kitchen yesterday a phone call came in, someone wanting to place a wager. What did I tell you, Shakespeare?" he asked, his lips pressed together.

"But ..."

"What did I tell you?" Simpson said angrily.

"But ..."

"I'm sorry, Shakespeare, I have to let you go. It isn't as if you weren't warned."

And in the meanwhile, back in the street in front of the warehouse.

"Do you want to hear another song? I can tap dance too."

"No!" A man yelled from the driver's window of the garbage truck.

"We've heard enough." Another man yelled as he threw a can of garbage into the back of the truck.

"Andre, I don't think they're going to listen." Henry said tugging on Andre's sleeve.

"But my blender. Oh please, garbage men, oh please."

"We aren't garbage men, we are sanitation workers, buddy." The driver yelled.

"Oh, I am so sorry SANITATION workers. Is that better? Everyone is so touchy nowadays. You can call me a cook, or a chef , or a kitchen worker I don't care! "

"Listen, pal, us sanitation engineers get a lot of grief."

"Oh now they are engineers. Henry did you know he is an engineer!" Andre said pointing to the man as he got back on the truck.

"Well, whatever we are we ain't looking for your blender, weirdo!" The man shouted as the truck took off.

"'Weirdo!' Can you believe it, Henry? That GARBAGEMAN called me a weirdo! Of all the nerve. Look at them rolling down the street like big shots. And now ... and now..."

"And now?" Henry said, waving his hands in the air, frustrated.

"And now I am a weirdo without a blender!" Andre said as tears fell down from his eyes.

"Andre, I will get you a new blender." Henry said twiddling his fingers.

"It won't be the same, Henry but I suppose it will be better than a PROCESSOR."

"You'll see, Andre, before you know it your new blender will have its own history." Henry said as he started walking up the stairs.

"Ah you are so wise, Henry," Andre said, and he put his arm around Henry. Wait till we get back inside and I tell Shakespeare I am getting a brand new blender. He will want you to get him something too, Henry."

They walked through the hall and into the kitchen. As they walked through the doorway Andre called, "Shakespeare! Shakespeare ... where is Shakespeare?"

His eyebrows quivered.

Article © Bruce Memblatt. All rights reserved.
Published on 2010-09-06
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