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September 25, 2023

Dinner With Henry 18: The Anxiety of It All

By Bruce Memblatt

Henry was uptown at a tailor shop on Canal Street getting his suit altered for the big day. He stood in front of the mirror waiting for Mr. Mushkin to return with his measuring tape. Growing anxious watching his reflection in the mirror, because it was the first time his impending wedding took on a physical manifestation, he started fidgeting. When Mr. Mushkin returned he could sense Henry was getting the willies.

"Henry, Henry, vat are you vorried about?"

"Vat am I vorried? I mean what am I worried about? Everything, Mr. Mushkin."

"There is not a ting to vorry about, Henry. I've been married for forty years, imagine? And I never vorry."

"Why don't you ever worry?"

"I'm too scared to vorry, no really, Henry, you and Diego vill be fine. I promise, here pull in you tummy, I mean, thorax. See I'm going to make a special hole for your ving. Mr. Munchkin thinks of everyting," he sang.

"But it's not just the wedding -- we're having a baby, too," Henry said pulling on his shirt sleeve.

"So, vats the problem? You'll be taking care of everyting in vun shot."

"I guess, I just thought it would never really happen for real."

"Vell, what did you tink vas going to happen? Henry, when you play footsie you're gonna get ah bootsie."

"Ah bootsie?"

"Listen, Henry, vork wit me, I'm trying to help you. Ooh, I think I have to take the sleeve in just a leetle," he said pulling on Henry's sleeve.

"There, you're all set, look at yourself, Henry."

He stood behind Henry, patting him on the back, pointing him toward the mirror.

" Henry you are going to get married."

In the meanwhile in the kitchen, Andre was struggling with the new food processor.

"I detest this thing, look I pressed the chop button and it turned the strawberries into soup! And it is such a chore to clean this -- processor! There must be a million parts to scrub, inside, outside, between the crevices, that little cover that never fits right! Why must there be processors? Why is it even called a processor? It should be called a destroyer, a destroyer of desserts! Oh, what is an old chef to do? What, what, what?"

"This must be my cue." Shakespeare snapped.

"Oh quiet, you shoe."Andre snapped back.




"Can we stop this now, before we run out of rhymes? You know, Shakespeare I was trying to share my difficulties with my work equipment with you, but all you do is joke and joke and joke! Mr. Smarty Pants, I think you have a kind of deep-seated anxiety, something inside you, perhaps a childhood memory that causes your rage!" Andre said as he fiddled around with the processor.

"Unfortunately, it's not a memory. It's standing right in front of me," Shakespeare smirked.

"Do you see what I mean, Shakespeare? I think we need to explore your past. Let us delve through the highways and tunnels and windmills of your mind and try to uncover what could be the cause of this stress. Perhaps you suffered some terrible childhood trauma you would like to share with me. Tell me, little Shakespeare?"

"Um , if you haven't noticed I'm kind of short and I can't see?"

Diego suddenly popped up and said, "Oh, what is the little one doing now?"

"See what I mean?"Shakespeare said pointing at Andre's leg.

"But we say little as a term of endearment, Shakespeare, not to mock you."

"Okay, fat one," Shakespeare snapped.

"Does anyone have a stick of gum?" Diego breathed.

"Well actually, in fact, I do, Diego." Andre said, pulling a package of gum out of his pocket.

"Since when do you chew gum?" Shakespeare grumbled.

"Well, I don't really, but beause Diego is always looking for gum since she quit smoking, I thought I would keep some handy. That is just the kind of person I am!" Andre said and he tipped his hat.

"Oh brother."

"Thank you, Andre, at least there are still some gentlemen left in the world. Oooh!" Diego said and she grabbed her stomach.

"What's the matter, Diego?" Andre said, staring at Diego.

"Nothing, Andre." A strained look appeared on Diego's face and she cried, "Oooh," again and grabbed her stomach tighter.

"Are you sure, Diego -- is everything all right? Maybe the baby is coming?"

Diego turned quickly and said, "It's too early for the baby, Andre, everything is all right."

"Are you sure, Diego?" Shakespeare asked and he started walking in Diego's direction.

"Yes, everyone, I am fine," Diego insisted while she started walking toward other end of the kitchen.

Andre cried, "Come back, stay over here, Diego! Where is Henry?"

"He's getting his suit fitted for the wedding. Oooh." Diego grabbed her stomach again and began to keel over. Andre ran over to her and held her up. Then he walked her over to the chair by the stove.

"Here, sit down, Diego."

"Someone should call a doctor," Shakespeare said.

"No!" Diego shouted.

"Diego, I think Shakespeare is right, please, it couldn't hurt. Okay, that is it! I am going to call a doctor! Do we know any doctors? What's your doctor's name, Diego?" Andre stood in front of Diego, waving his hands and pacing.

"You don't need his name; really, I'll be fine in a second." Diego bent over. "Oooh. It's Doctor Lumitz."

"Who is Dr. Lumitz?" Andre asked, holding his hands on his head.

"Einstein, just grab her cell and call Lumitz." Shakespeare said as he walked around in circles.

"Yes, hurry, fat one," Diego cried, holding her cell phone out. "Call Henry, too."


"Henry!" Diego cried.

"Oh yes, of course, I will call Henry, I'm so sorry, Diego, I am in such a state. Shakespeare, will you stop walking around in circles!"

At that point Andre called Dr. Lumitz who told them to get right to the hospital. Then Andre called Henry who was just about to enter the subway.

"Henry," Andre said, "There's nothing to worry about, but Diego has stomach pains so we called Dr. Lumitz and he's sending an ambulance to take her to the hospital."

Henry's thorax sank. "My god, what's happening?"

"She will be fine, everything will be fine, Henry it is just a precaution."

"I'm on my way!" Henry shouted into the phone and then hailed a cab. On the long ride over to the hospital he thought about only two things: Diego and the baby. (Traffic was pretty heavy that afternoon due to a Presidential visit at the UN and a World Series Game in the Bronx.)

When Henry finally arrived at the hospital and got out of the cab he saw Andre waiting inside the lobby. He could tell it was Andre immediately by his hat. Walking briskly past the security guard, Henry shouted, "Andre, Andre!"

Andre turned around and shouted, "Henry, Henry!"

Then the security guard said, "Stop shouting, this is a hospital."

"I am so sorry, Mr. Security Guard," Andre said, "we are just very excited -- surely you can understand?"

The security guard sipped the cup of coffee he was holding and said, "Don't worry, everything will be fine."

"That is what I've been trying to tell Henry. See, Henry?" Andre said, pointing at the security guard.

"Um, that's swell, Andre, when does Dr. Security Guard over here start making his rounds? Oh, never mind! Where is Diego?"

"She's upstairs on the fifth floor."

"Well, what are we waiting for?" Henry said. His wing darted up and down. "Where is Shakespeare?" "Oh, he is standing outside Digeo's room. I told him to wait there so he doesn't get lost. And I think it will also keep intruders from entering Diego's room."

Henry and Andre walked down the hallway and got on the elevator after a brief wait that seemed like hours to Henry. When the elevator doors opened on the fifth floor and they began making their way towards Diego's room they heard Shakespeare yelling.

"Listen, little girl, I am not am not a singer with any band, I am not a Disney character, nor am I a circus midget! Go away!"

The little girl stuck her tongue out at Shakespeare and started screaming, "Mother!"

"I'm not your mother, either," Shakespeare barked just when Henry and Andre approached, out of breath.

"Shakespeare, leave the nice little girl alone," Andre said and the little girl scooted down the hallway.

"Nice? She's a ball buster." Shakespeare snapped, pacing back and forth in front of Diego's doorway.

"Never mind all this!" Henry shouted, "What about Diego?"

"Henry, we have to wait out here. The doctor is in the room with Diego now. As soon as he's finished, we'll know more -- just try to remain calm, Henry. Would you like a stick of gum?" Andre said, holding a stick of gum out toward Henry.

"No, I would not like a stick of gum, Andre. I would like to know what on earth is going on with Diego. If anything has happened to her or the baby I will never forgive myself."

"Henry, you know you might benefit from Transcendental Meditation," Shakespeare said just as the door to Diego's room swung open. Dr. Lumitz, a small bald man with curly red sideburns stood in the threshold.

"You can all come in now, even you," he said pointing at Shakespeare.

"Everyone's a wise guy," Shakespeare cracked.

"Just go in," Andre said.

Henry pushed his way quickly past them.

When they entered the hospital room, they saw Diego lying in bed smiling and sipping a glass of diet coke while playing with the ice cubes in the glass with her tongue. Henry suddenly felt a sense of relief as he approached her bedside.

"Hi, Henry," Diego said cheerfully.

Henry grabbed her hand anxiously and said "Are you all right? I was so worried, Honey!"

Dr. Lumitz walked to the end of the bed. "You must be the husband."

Andre waved his hands. "Yes, he is and I am the Andre and this is the Shakespeare."

"Oh brother," Shakespeare snapped.

The doctor continued. "Well, I've got good news for you -- mother and baby are doing just fine. It seems Diego's stomach pains were the result of the normal stress of pregnancy ... and acute indigestion caused by excessive gum chewing. See, what happens is in some cases, the chewing motion allows for extra air to enter the esophagus and form bubbles of gas in the tummy."

"So you're saying?" Shakespeare said.

"The biggest one I've ever heard."

Then Diego started laughing.

Henry shrugged and slapped his hands over his head.

Article © Bruce Memblatt. All rights reserved.
Published on 2010-11-08
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